Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Wandering Around Baguio City: Camp John Hay, The Mansion and Wright Park

On my second weekend in Manila, my high school classmate Pastor Mike, invited me to go with him to Baguio City. He intend to visit a fellow pastor and since I've never been to Baguio, I decided to go with him. Aboard Pastor Mike's Toyota Innova, we left Manila shortly before 5 AM and breezed through the express highways of NLEX, SCTEX and PCTEX. Our road trip slowed down due to traffic and road repairs along Pangasinan and La Union. Upon reaching the town of Pugo, it was uphill all the way to the Summer Capital of the Philippines.

Baguio is a higly urbanized city of Benguet Province in Northern Luzon. As I observed, plenty of commercial establishments congregate along its main streets. The city is very populated as residential dwellings occupy even the slopes of some hills. It's terrain are mostly uphill and downhill with only a few flat lands in between. The number one tourist attraction of Baguio is its cool weather which I immediately felt the moment I stepped out of the Innova during a brief stop in a gasoline station. It was already 11 in the morning when we arrived but the cool air can still be felt despite the heat of the sun.

Our first stop was Camp John Hay, a hill station which used to be a rest and recreation center of the U.S. Armed Forces. It was first established in 1903 for the exclusive use of U.S. Military and Department of Defense in the Far East. Its official name is John Hay Air Station, named after President Theodore Roosevelt's Secretary of State, John Milton Hay. It was turned over to the Philippines in 1991 upon the expiration of the R.P.-U.S. Bases Agreement.

Facilities inside Camp John Hay include a golf course, picnic grounds, an eco-trail, hotels, restaurants and shopping centers.

After Camp John Hay, we went to The Mansion along Leonard Wood Road. The Mansion is the official vacation residence of the President of the Philippines. According to its National Historical Institute marker, The Mansion House was constructed at the instance of US Governor General William Cameron Forbes follwing the design of William E. Parsons as part of the Burnham Plan for Baguio in 1908. It was destroyed during the war in 1945 and was rehabilated in 1947. It was the summer residence of American Governors-General from 1908 to 1935 ad later of Philippine Presidents, from Manuel L. Quezon up to the present.

The Mansion is off limits to the public. Tourists can have their photos taken only up to a few meters inside the gate.

Fronting The Mansion is Wright Park, built in honor of Governor-General Luke E. Wright. Its main feature is a shallow elongated rectangular body of water known as the "Pool of Pines". Horseback riding is one of the most popular activities offered in this park.

Special thanks to Pastor Michael Tampo for bringing me from Manila to Baguio and back. Thanks also to Pastor Gippy Gabinera Palma for the free accommodation.


  1. Baguio City is indeed the Summer Capital of the Philippines! Camp John Hay and The Mansion are wonderful places that during the summer can be a great place for people to come and relax, to escape from the routine.


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