Past Cities

Baguio, Cordillera, Philippines

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Nestled within the lush mountains of the Cordillera region in the Philippines, Baguio City has a rich and vibrant history that intertwines with its unique political environment and stunning geography. From its humble beginnings as a remote village to its rise as the "Summer Capital of the Philippines," Baguio has evolved into a bustling metropolis while still maintaining its natural charm.

Baguio's history dates back to pre-colonial times when indigenous tribes, particularly the Ibalois and Kankanaeys, inhabited the region. These indigenous peoples embraced a communal lifestyle, subsisting on agriculture, hunting, and weaving. Their harmonious relationship with nature and the land laid the foundation for the city's cultural heritage.

Baguio's transformation began during the Spanish colonial era when the Spanish authorities recognized the city's strategic location as a potential hill station due to its cool climate and breathtaking scenery. In 1900, the American colonial government, following the footsteps of the Spanish, established Baguio as a summer retreat for its officials. This led to the construction of Kennon Road, which connected the city to the lowlands.

Under American rule, Baguio experienced rapid development and urbanization. The colonial government introduced various infrastructure projects, such as Camp John Hay and Teachers Camp, which were vital in transforming Baguio into a modern city. Additionally, Baguio became the site of the annual Philippine Commission, attracting politicians and dignitaries from across the country.

Baguio's geography played a significant role in its urban planning and growth. Situated approximately 1,540 meters above sea level, the city boasts a temperate climate, making it a popular destination for tourists and settlers seeking respite from the lowland heat. The verdant mountains, scenic valleys, and the iconic Burnham Park further enhance the city's allure.

The tranquil atmosphere of Baguio was abruptly shattered during World War II when the Japanese forces occupied the city. Baguio became the headquarters of the Japanese military, resulting in significant destruction and loss of lives. The city's infrastructure suffered immensely, and many residents endured hardships during this tumultuous period.

Following the war, Baguio underwent a process of rehabilitation and reconstruction. The United States, as a form of reparation, helped rebuild the city, leading to the revival of its tourism industry. In the subsequent years, Baguio's population steadily increased as people from various regions migrated to the city, seeking employment and educational opportunities.

Throughout the 20th century, Baguio became a hotbed of political activism and cultural preservation. The city witnessed protests and demonstrations, with residents advocating for social justice, environmental protection, and the preservation of indigenous cultures. Baguio's unique blend of political consciousness and environmental stewardship set it apart from other Philippine cities.

As Baguio enters the 21st century, it faces new challenges brought about by rapid urbanization and increased tourism. The strain on its infrastructure, coupled with environmental concerns, has necessitated a shift towards sustainable development practices. Efforts are being made to strike a balance between preserving the city's natural beauty and meeting the needs of its growing population.