Baguio then

Ever wondered what Baguio was like before the influx of people and big establishments? 

Old Baguio landscape

Baguio was developed by the Americans as the retreat and recreation abode of U.S. armed forces during the 20th century. Before that, however, Baguio was one of the most coveted regions in the Philippines during the Spanish colonization because of the intense lure of gold. The natives were strong and defiant against the Spaniards who invaded their home and for a time they were able to keep the colonizers away. Still, after how many attempts, one commander was successful in pursuing the region. He first built a military garrison in the land area that is now called “La Trinidad”, named after his wife, and later created ranches and camps, also known as rural settlements. Baguio was called “Kafagway” then.

Session Road in the 50’s

When World War II broke, the Japanese targeted Baguio due to the fact that the Philippines was the only colony of the Americans in Asia at that time. They bombed Baguio and occupied the city for four years even invading Camp John Hay as their headquarters until General Yamashita surrendered in 1945. Rehabilitation occurred thereafter under American rule and eventually, the Americans turned Baguio over to the national government.After the Philippines was liberated from Spanish colonial rule, the Americans started to develop Baguio as their ideal place for retreats. They built Kennon Road to connect Baguio to the lowlands and established the city as a mining town and recreational facility. Later on, a provincial government was formed to lead the designing of Baguio as what they called, “the virtual heaven on earth”. The development of Baguio continued until eventually, it was declared as an independent city in 1909. During this time, Baguio was already given the moniker “Summer Capital of the Philippines” because of the establishment of Camp John Hay for the American soldiers and the Mansion for the Governor-General’s residence during the summer. American missionaries also came to introduce Christianity to the natives and teach English. Not for long, English became the common language of the people.

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