Saturday, June 06, 2009

Baguio: Baguio heritage in Camp John Hay going gone!

Unbelievable! Greedy! Stupid! That is all I could say when I saw these photos of the original American housing in Camp John Hay flattened to make way for new developments. I used to be so happy that at least Camp John Hay was still an enclave of Baguio heritage and green. But that was until I saw these photos!

It's really stupid. No, really! The new buildings they construct have no connection whatsoever to the history of Baguio. They should stick to the distinctive green and white architecture of the American colonial period. These developers are giving Camp John Hay a serious identity problem. They continue to destroy its unique character. The simple elegance of these decades-old houses would have been unmatched if they had been restored. Now what? Will they build second-rate copies of houses in the Alps?

Jack Carino writes, "More of old Baguio's distinctive green-and-white architecture gone!!! Photos taken January 30, 2009. So not even a toot from conservation activists. I enter Camp John Hay maybe twice or thrice a month to check on the sale of our magazines and I didn't get a clue that this was going on! Probably the demolition was done stealthily? Or traffic was rerouted when this was done?

"Anyway, I think that the Camp John Hay managers have no sense of history and heritage. They will probably build European-inspired structures just like the Manor and the Suites.

"Those vestiges of Baguio's American colonial past should have been preserved and whatever they are going to construct there should be brought to the Baguio outskirts."

Dion Fernandez tells us more, "I spoke to a representative of the John Hay Management Corporation last month, and the demolition job seen in Mr. [Wilson]'s photos is part of their plan to create an exclusive 'playground of the rich,' which runs contradictory to 'quiet dignity' as promised in the turnover manuscript posted over at the Bell House. A luxury neighborhood is expected to rise where those simple houses have fallen. The only American Heritage area left would be the so-called 'Historical Core,' which unfortunately will also eventually be 'developed' as per the architectural plans found on a balcony also outside Bell House.

"Meanwhile, I have seen the plans of the Ayala Corporation to put up a massive BPO building within Camp John Hay. Yes, it is a concrete/glass structure. Yes, pine trees will be destroyed to make way for this behemoth."

Isn't that just horrible? There are just a few pristine areas left in Baguio City. Let's preserve what's left of the heritage and environment of Baguio, especially those wonderful pine trees!

Many thanks to Ronald Hilton for taking and allowing me to use the photos and to Jack Carino for forwarding them to the HCS. At least we know now the stupidity that is happening in Camp John Hay. It's time for Baguio citizens to be vigilant! Wake up Baguio! Let's put an end to this nonsense!

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  1. Anonymous7.6.09

    Hi. The upcoming development on this site aims to bring a glimpse of the old Baguio. It wont, in any way, attempt to lambast the heritage of Baguio.

    Yes there will be a BPO campus and retail areas, but they're not like glass buildings. The architecture will be simple - inspired by the look of old cabins that used to be in the town. Only a few pine trees will be uprooted to make way for roads, and these shall be replaced with new pine trees to be planted within the vicinity.


  2. Whatever that upcoming development is, the heritage of Baguio has already been lambasted by demolishing those American colonial houses!

  3. Darn!!

    We stayed at those houses last 2006 and the place was great. It has two bedrooms and can fit two medium sized families plus the cozy fireplace (you can order wood from admin during the day).

    Attached are pictures of the place (taken 2006) as you can see the stairs going to the main entrance and the fireplace is the same as with the pictures posted by Ivan.

    This news made my heart cry. Such a beautiful place wasted.




  4. Susan D. Russell7.6.09

    This is really awful.

  5. Alain Maniago Algallar7.6.09


  6. Anonymous7.6.09

    The architecture of the upcoming development will be reminiscent of American colonial houses.

    Yes, the current state of John Hay is disappointing. And I'm hopeful that whatever's left can be saved and for the general environs to be rehabilitated - bring the old scenic town back. :)

  7. Where is this information coming from? It's not accurate unless it's signed. And when you say American colonial, it has to be green and white architecture.

  8. I live in Baguio right now and John Hay isn't the place anymore that people go during Sundays. It is not also a place anymore for Boy Scout/Girl Scout overnight camping and it is not also a place for student field trips.

    It was all that when I was young. I used to enjoy the crisp clean fresh air in that place. I could not even share that same experience to my kid. We just go to the malls on Sundays instead.

  9. nakakalungkot nga sa Pinas ay dapat na i preserve ang mga historical places ay tuluyang sinisira. sana ay bigyan ng halaga ang mga places na tulad nito. para hindi lang sa pictures nakikita ng mga apo at magiging apo natin.

  10. litoligon10.6.09

    One sad characteriistic about us Filipinoes is our edifice complex. We always like leaving a mark, whether a building or even a carving on a tree, just to let people know that we once walked on this earth. What they dont know is that several generations after, someone can do that to them too. People who do not know how to appreciate our heritage and culture are bound to repeat the same mistakes over and over again. At least, with you around, there is hope that eyes will be opened. More power!

  11. What would be left of John Hay that me and my family would visit someday and tell stories to my son about my adventures during my younger years? Gone!

  12. Ivan, Thanks for posting this. Baguio is where I was born and raised. Although I no longer live there, upon seeing these pictures, I cold not help but feel the sadness of losing a part of what made Baguio HOME to me. Seeing this is so tragic. I wish they could have just left John Hay Alone. Maintained what was there. Is Joh Hay still accessible to the public, or is it just for the rich now?

  13. Paolo Lopez18.6.09

    I will not be surprised kung tabunan at gawin pamilihang bayan ang pet cemetery.hayyy...gising pilipinas!

  14. Anonymous24.6.09

    Wake up! It's 2009 and Baguio is already lambasted way before this happened. I'm glad such developments are taking place, Baguio has already lost it's title as summer capital because of it's messy surroundings and smelly underdevelop tourist spots! If your talking about Baguio/Camp John Hay as a Filipino heritage thing? Well the old buildings/houses ain't Filipino in architecture...

  15. They could have restored the colonial houses instead of demolishing them. Those structures have been part of the baguio landscape for ages. It has historical significance for crying out loud. It's not something that replicas of "old cabins" can replace.

  16. The correct term for the architecture in Camp John Hay is Philippine architecture of the American colonial period. These foreign influences are very much part of our heritage. And last time I checked, Baguio City has always been part of the Philippines. Lest we forget Baguio's green and white architectural heritage. Too bad Anonymous poster is ignorant about that.

  17. Anonymous16.7.09

    Anyone who reminisces on their childhood days in Baguio would have images of green and white structures as backdrop for good old days gone by. The unmistakable green and white architecture of John Hay structures screams, "This is Baguio!" and lends a silent caption to photos and videos. Now I do not know what will distinguish Baguio better in photos if all those were gone.

    See, I was born and raised in Baguio. I camped in John Hay as a girl scout. During my early high school years, I joined in rallies to stop the culturally-insensitive "developments" in John Hay.

    The developers do not have an informed idea of what Camp John Hay is to Baguio residents. They must be so naive or snubbish to have a fair consultation with the community before laying out their self-serving plans for John Hay.

    The demolition of the green and white structures is an affront to Baguio's history and identity.

    Last I checked, the John Hay property is really expansive and has a lot of empty lots where they could plan and zone their new "developments."

    The other Anonymous commentor is probably a real-estate broker who sells new properties in Camp John Hay.

    Hello? how sure can you be about "giving a glimpse of old Baguio" when your apparently "well-meaning" but sneaky developers have demolished a vestige of its old look, and hope to replace it with what they think John Hay should look like before they demolished its identity?

    I agree with you, brod Ivan, when you said it is really stupid. I could not think of any more fitting term.

  18. Anonymous26.8.09

    I wrote a paper on how Baguio had changed so radically so recently for my freshman English class here in college. I was born and raised in Baguio - just in time to witness the subtle changes that occurred during the post-earthquake boom.

    I don't even see the point in celebrating the centennial anymore, I used to be so full of zeal for my hometown - how life was so simple and beautiful in Baguio, but now it's dangerous to walk in town.

    Sanctuaries like what Camp John Hay was to families provided much needed relief from busy days in town, now you even have to pay a per person fee to picnic on the grass, or pay to see the amphitheater - even people from Baguio don't seem to be welcome anymore despite the fact that these developers don't even pay proper taxes (another pressing issue).

    When I first saw these cabins demolished (I was in Baguio for the summer), I felt a sense of loss, the same feeling I felt when the outdoor skating rink and volleyball court and the playground across the street became victims of those monstrous log cabins - along with the chapel and the old fire station.

    I faintly remember a night I spent in one of those beautiful cabins, how simple yet elegant they were, how quaint and breathtaking it was to spend the night in Camp.

    I'm sixteen but even I remember a Baguio far different from what I see now - and that is a fact that saddens me...

  19. scout_hill8.9.09

    It's really sad what they're doing to CJH..what's worse, no one seems to be doing something about it..cabins for the rich!I thought they're developing CJH so that it'll be accessible to the locals..we can't even go to the area where mile-hi is(or used to be!)...can anyone give me resources/links where i can find the plans for know--structures/facilites and stuff they're planning to build(or already built)..


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