Baguio, officially the City of Baguio (Ibaloi: Ciudad ni Bagiw; Ilocano: Ciudad ti Baguio; Pangasinan: Siyudad na Baguio; Spanish: Ciudad de Baguio; Tagalog: Lungsod ng Baguio) and often referred to as Baguio City, is a highly urbanized city in northern Luzon in the Philippines. It is geographically within Benguet, serving as the provincial capital from 1901 to 1916, but has since been administered independently from the province following its conversion into a chartered city. The city has become the center of business, commerce, and education in northern Luzon, as well as the seat of government of the Cordillera Administrative Region. According to the 2015 census, Baguio has a population of 345,366.
Baguio was established as a hill station by the Americans in 1900 at the site of an Ibaloi village known as Kafagway. It was the United States’ only hill station in Asia. The name of the city is derived from bagiw, the Ibaloi word for ‘moss.’ The city is situated at an altitude of approximately 1,540 meters (5,050 feet) in the Luzon tropical pine forests ecoregion conducive for the growth of mossy plants and orchids.
Because of its cool climate, Baguio was designated by the Philippine Commission as the “Summer Capital of the Philippines” on June 1, 1903. The government was transferred to The City of Baguio to escape the lowland heat during summer. It was incorporated as a chartered city by the Philippine Assembly on September 1, 1909, as authored by former Philippines Supreme Court Justice Atty. George A. Malcolm.
During the Spanish occupation in 1846, the Spaniards established a comandancia in the nearby town of La Trinidad, and organized Benguet into 31 rancherias, one of which was Kafagway, a wide grassy area where the present Burnham Park is situated. Most of the lands in Kafagway were owned by the Ibaloi chieftain Mateo Cariño. The Spanish presidencia, which was located at Bagyiw at the vicinity of Guisad Valley was later moved to Cariño’s house where the current City Hall stands. Bagyiw, a local term for “moss” once abundant in the area was converted by the Spaniards into Baguio, which served as the name of the rancheria.
During the Philippine Revolution in July 1899, Filipino revolutionary forces under Pedro Paterno liberated La Trinidad from the Spaniards and took over the government, proclaiming Benguet as a province of the new Republic of the Philippines. Baguio was converted into a “town”, with Mateo Cariño being the presidente (mayor).
Shortly after in November 1899, the Philippine–American War ensued. American forces led by Capt. Robert R. Rudd arrived in La Trinidad searching for Pedro Paterno, Mateo Cariño and other rebels, but failing to do so, proceeded to Baguio, setting camp in what is now Camp John Hay.
On November 22, 1900, the Americans established civil government in Benguet with the passage of Act No. 48, converting the rancherias into townships. The Act likewise made Baguio the capital of Benguet, and Sioco Cariño, Mateo Cariño’s eldest son was made the president of the township. In September 1909, Baguio became a chartered city through Act No. 1963, but remained the capital of Benguet until August 21, 1916, when the capital was transferred to La Trinidad.
American colonial period
When the United States took possession of the Philippines after the Spanish–American War, Baguio was selected to become the summer capital of the Philippine Islands. Governor-General William Taft on his first visit in 1901, noted the “air as bracing as Adirondacks or Murray Bay … temperature this hottest month in the Philippines on my cottage porch at three in the afternoon sixty-eight.”:317–319
In 1903, Filipino, Japanese and Chinese workers were hired to build Kennon Road, the first road directly connecting Baguio with the lowlands of Pangasinan. Before this, the only road to Benguet wasNaguilian Road, and it was largely a horse trail at higher elevations.
The Americans declared Baguio the “Summer Capital of the Philippines” on July 1, 1903. Every year between March and June, the entire American government transferred operations to Baguio to escape Manila’s summer heat, a practice abolished in 1913 when Governor-General Francis B. Harrison took office. Mansion House was built to become the residence of the Governor-General, while in 1904 the rest of the city was planned out by the American architect Daniel Burnham, one of the earliest successful modern city planners. On September 1, 1909 Baguio was declared a chartered city, the second after the City of Manila, and the period after saw further development of Baguio with the construction of Wright Park in honor of Governor-General Luke E. Wright, Burnham Park in honor of Burnham, Governor Pack Road, and Session Road.
World War I
On April 26, 1945, Filipino troops of the 1st, 2nd, 11th, 12th, 13th, 15th and 16th Infantry Division of the Philippine Commonwealth Army, 1st Infantry Regiment of the Philippine Constabulary and the USAFIP-NL 66th Infantry Regiment and the American troops of the 33rd and 37th Infantry Division of the United States Army entered Baguio and fought against the Japanese Imperial Army forces led by General Tomoyuki Yamashita which started the Battle for the Liberation of Baguio during World War II.
Baguio is the site of the formal surrender of General Tomoyuki Yamashita and Vice Admiral Okochi. It is where they gave up the entire Imperial Japanese Armed Forces to American authorities at the High Commissioner’s Residence (now the United States Ambassador’s Residence) inCamp John Hay on September 3, 1945, marking the end of World War II.
The 1990 Luzon earthquake (Ms = 7.8) destroyed much of the city of Baguio on July 16, 1990. A significant number of buildings and infrastructure were damaged; major highways were temporarily severed; and a number of houses were leveled or severely-shaken with a significant loss of life. Some of the fallen buildings were built on or near fault lines. Baguio was rebuilt with the aid from the national government and various international donors such as Japan, Singapore and other countries.
Baguio is located some 1,540 meters (5,050 feet) above sea level, nestled within the Cordillera Central mountain range in northern Luzon. The city is enclosed by the province of Benguet. It covers a small area of 57.5 square kilometres (22.2 sq mi). Most of the developed part of the city is built on uneven, hilly terrain of the northern section. When Daniel Burnham draughted plans for the city, he made the City Hall a reference point where the city limits extend 8.2 kilometres (5.1 mi) from east to west and 7.2 kilometres (4.5 mi) from north to south.