The early part of the 19th century saw the Spanish exploring the mountains of northern Luzon. The fertile lands and abundance of minerals made this a prime area. The wealth attracted fortune seekers that converted the locals to Christianity and exploited the natural resources.
The Spanish colonial rulers found it difficult to control the natives, with strong objections from the proud, local mountain folk. The land was eventually divided into ‘rancherias’ and controlled by the landed aristocracy.


When the Americans arrived in 1900, the rancheria of Baguio didn’t consist of much more than a handful of houses and no roads. The new arrivals saw Baguio’s potential as an ideal location for a summer retreat from the lowland heat in Manila. By November 1900, a civil government was established in Benguet, with Baguio chosen as the capital and principal health resort for the Philippines.
The early 20th century was a period of development for Baguio, during which time the first road linking Manila with Baguio was built and named Benguet road. The American colonial rulers passed a resolution on 1 June 1903 calling for the construction of townships and further development of transportation. The resolution also officially identified Baguio as the Philippines’ summer capital.


The years before WWII were prosperous for Baguio, from the establishment of the first telephone system, to the first residential and commercial property sales in 1906, the opening of Baguio General Hospital and the building of a Country Club. The first aircraft landed at Baguio Airport in 1919 and by the time WWII broke out Baguio was a fully working, thriving city.
The war took its toll on Baguio, which was a major target of the Japanese air force. Ultimately the Japanese conquered the city and established a military base and concentration camp. After an intense struggle, combined Filipino and American forces freed Baguio from the Japanese in 1945, but the cost to Baguio was high. The city was all but destroyed, with residents losing their homes and having to seek cover in the cathedral.


The Japanese leader of Baguio, General Yamashita, formally signed an unconditional surrender at the home of the US Ambassador in Baguio on 3 September 1945. Following Japanese withdrawal, Baguio slowly rose from the ashes of war. Baguio has since re-emerged as the education, commercial and recreational heart of the Cordilleras.
Baguio suffered further devastation in the earthquake of 1990, which caused major destruction to the city’s buildings and infrastructure. The city has recovered and increasing numbers of hotels and other developments have sprung up since. Modern Baguio is a popular destination with Filipino and overseas visitors alike. Read More