A Little History of Camp John Hay
By Jun Ventura
PHILSTAR.COM Publish Date: [Saturday, April 13, 2002]
Baguio used to be a native Ibaloi hamlet called "kafagway" which means "a wide open space." The name later became "Baguio," which comes from the abundant moss called "bagiw." The Americans only accidentally discovered Baguio while in pursuit of Filipino revolutionaries in November 1899. With an average temperature of 20 centigrade (the lowest recorded temperature is 6.3 centigrade on January 18, 1961), the American colonizers found the perfect place for their troops to escape the tropical heat and in the process save money (they would have otherwise sent them back to the mainland). With its March weather almost like San Francisco, Baguio became the Americans’ summer capital and Camp John Hay became their rest and recreation base. By the way, the camp was named after a US Secretary of State, John Milton Hay, who is credited for negotiating the construction of the Panama Canal. In the Second World War, this peaceful vacation camp was ironically the first to be bombed by the Japanese. Fittingly, the surrender of all Japanese forces by General Yamashita, known as the "Tiger of Malaya," was held inside Camp John Hay. After the Americans left, the Filipinos took control and in a public bidding in September 1996, the Fil-Estate group won the rights to develop this vast 300-hectare camp. People may gripe over the American presence in the Philippines, but you have to hand it to them for leaving Camp John Hay in a very beautiful condition. It is, in fact, the only place where thick pine forests stand. Fortunately Fil-Estate’s Bob Sobrepe�a understands his company’s responsibility. For every pine tree that they have to cut, Fil-Estate plants 100 new pine trees (exceeding what the government requires)....