I was born in the mountains. The mountain city of Baguio in the Philippines, to be exact. Although I was only there for the first decade of my life, it has indelibly stamped itself into my psyche as home. When people ask me where I’m from, this is the first city that comes to mind before I realize they really meant where do I live now as opposed to where I was born.
On September 1st, Baguio will celebrate its 100th year as a city and various celebrations are being planned to commemorate this event stretching into the end of this year.
For a short history of the city, here is the condensed version from the Baguio Centennial website:
Baguio city, Benguet prov., NW Luzon, the Philippines. Baguio is the summer capital of the country. Originally settled by the Spanish, Baguio developed only after the American occupation, when a modern city was laid out (1909) by Daniel H. Burnham and roads were built (the first in 1913) to connect it with the main highways. The city was captured early (Dec., 1941) in World War II by Japanese land forces. Baguio City was established by Americans in 1900 at the site of an Ibaloi village known as Kafagway. Baguio City was designated by the Philippine Commission as the Summer Capital of the Philippines on June 1, 1903 and incorporated as a city by the Philippine Assembly on September 1, 1909. There is a presidential mansion, as well as supreme court and legislative offices in Baguio. Baguio is the seat of government of the Cordillera Administrative Region. The name of the city is derived from the word bagiw in Ibaloi, the indigenous language of the Benguet Region, meaning ‘moss’. The city is at an altitude of approximately 1500 meters (5100 ft) in a moist tropical pine forest conducive to the growth of mossy plants and orchids.
The region around Baguio was first settled by the Cordilleranos, primarily the Kankane-y, Ibaloi, and Itogon tribes. In nearby La Trinidad, Spaniards established a commandante or military garrison, although Kafagway, as Baguio was once known, was barely touched. In 1901 Americans in an engineering built Kennon Road, the first road directly connecting Kafagway with the lowlands of Pangasinan. Before this, the only road to Kafagway was ? Naguilian Road, now known as the Quirino Highway . In September 1, 1909 Baguio was declared a chartered city. It was planned according to the American architect Burnham, but his plan was used only to a small extent, primarily due to the hilly terrain. Americans declared Baguio the Summer Capital of the Philippines and The Mansion as the residence of the American governor-general to escape Manila’s Summer heat. Americans further developed Baguio, building parks and public structures such as Wright Park , Burnham Park, Governor Pack Road , Session Road, Assumption Road.
Baguio is also best known as the surrender venue of General Tomoyuki Yamashita and Vice Admiral Okochi, where they also gave up the entire Imperial Japanese Armed Forces to American authorities at the High Commissioner’s Residence in Camp John Hay on September 3, 1945, marking the beginning of the end of World War II.
With Philippine independence in 1946, Americans settled in the city and English became the primary lingua franca. Ilocanos joined the Cordilleranos in Baguio, and the population of Americans, Dutch, Belgians, and Germans soared. Baguio was relatively quiet from 1946 to July 16, 1990, when an earthquake destroyed most of Baguio. The city was quickly rebuilt.
Here is also a video of scenes from Baguio from the past to the present.
And here again I share with you some photos taken a few years ago when I took my daughters to Baguio for the first time.