Dubbed as the Summer Capital of the Philippines, Baguio City is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Northern Luzon. Americans established this Ibaloi village as a hill station in the 1900s. At 5,200 feet above sea level, Baguio enjoys a cold climate that is ideal to the American soldiers recuperating from homesickness and the scorching heat of the lowlands. It was gradually transformed into a summer haven—complete with parkways and recreational fields—through the architectural genius of Daniel Burnham. With the unprecedented economic growth brought by tourism, the city has become the center of business and commerce, as well as the center of education in the entire Northern Luzon.
Points of Interest:
Burnham Park is a recreation space spanning 32.84 hectare at the heart of Baguio. It was named after Daniel Hudson Burnham, the American architect and urban planner who laid the plans for the city. Covered with towering trees, flowering plants and velvety grass, the park was built to provide locals and visitors a peaceful escape from the daily hustle and bustle of the city. It has various clusters such as the Rose Garden, the skating rink, the Melvin Jones Grand Stand, the Children’s Park and the Orchidarium. The park is also famous for its biking area, where bike rental will only cost up to 50 pesos per hour. A lagoon is also situated inside the park where boat rentals are available.
The main thoroughfare of the city, Session Road is also known as the Baguio Central Business District. A leisurely walk along this road will lead you to malls, boutiques, banks, hotels, bakeries, restaurants, newspaper stands, bookstores, cafes, and studios. The road also leads up to the old Baden-Powell Hall, where the second Philippine Commission held its sessions from April 22 to June 11, 1904 and officially instigated the use of Baguio as the Philippine Summer Capital.
Located east of downtown Baguio along Leonard Wood Road, this now-famous tourist destination started out as a vacation camp for teachers during the American settlement in the Philippines. Teachers from all over the country flock the camp to enroll in different education courses. However, only tents were set up to accommodate the teachers during its inception. It was only a few years later when additional funds were allocated to construct actual classrooms, dormitories, cottages, dining areas, administrative offices, and assembly halls. Today, these same dormitories and cottages are also rented out to tourists for an affordable price.
Located along Leonard Wood, between Teacher’s Camp and Wright Park, the Botanical Garden is one of the tourist destinations closest to the city proper. Littered with endemic trees and plants, it does not only serve as a short respite for the locals and tourists, it is also a re-greening zone for the fast developing city. Mini-parks are scattered around the garden, as well as greenhouses and nurseries that are designed to propagate various plants and trees that will be used in other parks and gardens around Baguio.
Wright Park and The Mansion
Wright Park was named after Luke Edward Wright, the American governor-general who was part of the commission that initiated the use of Baguio as the Philippine Summer Capital. It features a riding circle where you can rent horses and ponies for a reasonable price. With an accompanying guide, you can ride the horses as far as South Drive, the Mines View Park area and Outlook Drive. Wright Park is located across the Mansion—also a popular tourist destination in the city. During Wright’s term, the Mansion was his official summer residence. Since then, it has been the home of various Philippine presidents during their official visits and engagements in the city of pines.
Camp John Hay
Camp John Hay was the rest and recreational facility for the Department of Defense and military personnel of the United States during the 1900s. In 1991, the 690-hectare property was turned over to the Philippine government. Today, the camp serves as a major tourism and recreation resort open to everyone. It features various tourist attractions such as a world-class golf course, a shopping center, a convention center, as well as hotels and restaurants. However, some of the more famous attractions within the camp includes the picnic grove laden with towering pine trees and verdant grass, the cemetery of negativism, an eco-trail for trekking and off-road biking enthusiasts, and the Tree Top Adventure near the Historical Core, at the back of the Statue of Liberty.
Mines View Park
A 20-minute drive from the city proper, Mines View Park is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the city of pines. A ridge located at the extreme northeast side of the city, it features an observation deck that unfolds a panoramic view of Itogon’s gold and copper mines, as well as a glimpse of the Amburayan Valley. In addition to the breathtaking view, tourists flock the park to shop for souvenirs and try grilled delicacies at the rows of commercial stands found inside and outside the park. A small museum of Cordilleran artefact is also located in front of the park. The Good Shepherd Convent, famous for its delectable jars of lenguas, peanut brittles, strawberry and ube jams, is also located about 100 meters from the park.
Philippine Military Academy
Boasting over a century of illustrious history, the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) is the country’s premier military institution. PMA traces its history back to the Academia Militar, a military school established in October 1898, during the Aguinaldo administration. Originally located in Intramuros, Manila, it started as a school for the Philippine Constabulary. The academy was relocated to Baguio City in 1908. Facilities and infrastructures were first developed at Camp Henry Allen, however the institution was later moved to Fort Gregorio Del Pilar in Loakan. Today, aside from a prime military institution dedicated to train the best Filipino men and women for military service, PMA is also considered a popular tourist attraction where visitors can explore the stalwart history of the Philippines.