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Published on August 25, 2020 by
Baguio City is considered by many as one of the top summer destinations in the Philippines and thousands of visitors from all over the Philippines and other countries come to the City of Pines to be enchanted by its cold climate, lovely people and breath taking views. But, have you ever wondered what was Baguio like 70, 80 or a hundred years ago or who even originally really lived here? For those who didn’t even have the slightest idea about the Baguio back in the good old days, we’re going to take you back in time to find out the answers in this entry of our Throwback Thursday series.
In the old times, Baguio was a vast mountain area essentially used for grazing herds of cattle owned by  original inhabitants of the land which are the Ibalois and the Kankanaeys.  Baguio was originally called Kafagway which is an Ibaloi word meaning “wide open space.”

Old downtown Baguio

Camp John Hay circa 1911
​When the Americans occupied the Philippines, Baguio City was selected to become the country’s summer capital due to its temperate climate.Soon thereafter, Chinese Japanese and Filipino workers were hired to develop the city and build “Kennon Road.”the first ever road connecting Baguio to the Province of Pangasinan and the middle and southern provinces of Luzon. Afterwards, Camp John Hay was established as military base for United States Army.

The old Mirador Observatory where the Lourdes Grotto is currently located

The Baguio Cathedral of old
​On September 1, 1909 was finally declared as a chartered city by the Americans and was declared as the “Summer Capital of the Philippines.”
​During World War 2, Baguio was not spared from Japanese invasion just like the rest of the Philippines. In 1945 with the combined forces of American and Filipino troops, Baguio was finally recaptured and freed from the Japanese invaders.

Liberation of Baguio City during World War 2
The first settlers in Baguio were the Ibalois hence the original name of Baguio basically was derived from an Ibaloi word Bagiw which means moss since during the olden times Baguio was a grassy marshland and moss plants abound in the place. Ibaloi is a large ethnic group that are found in the Benguet Province which Baguio City is a part of. Basically, they are into farming and animal husbandry for ritual purposes. Ibalois have also a long history of gold and copper mining since Benguet and Baguio are blessed with these minerals.
I’m so blessed to have known a lot of Ibalois and I can guarantee that they are one of the most friendly and nice people you can ever meet. They are so hospitable and you can feel their warmth specially when you are with their company.

Ibaloi girls of Benguet
A local Ibaloi chieftain named Mateo Cariño and his wife, Bayosa Ortega were the owners of most of the lands here in Baguio City including Camp John Hay and the Baguio Dairy Farm during the 1900’s. A part of Carino’s pastureland was purchased by the Americans which the Baguio Country Club now stands.
The Carinos land consisted of vast grazing land from Kafagway (the current Rizal Park in front of Baguio City Hall) extending to the lowlands where the San Roque Dam now is situated . Camp John Hay was just part of Mateo Cariño’s pasture. 

Mateo Cariño and Bayosa Ortega
To date, Baguio City is a melting pot of many types and tribes of people. Baguio is a place where many different people and ideas exist together that formed what it is now. 
Note: Images used are not personally owned by this site or the blogger. All credits are due to its rightful owners.

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Category: Travel Guides