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CJH beefs up as Northern RP’s trade & tourism hub
Source: Manila Bulletin
Author: Arlene Dabu-Foz
Date: 2003-02-08
(First of Two Parts)

BAGUIO CITY – How much of Baguio City has metamorphosed ever since the famed lensman Masferre’s glory days and long after the Americans left the Camp John Hay (CJH) as their rest and recreation (R&R) site?

Several summers ago, when photography icon Masferre came and conquered Baguio City with his powerful lens and avidly chronicled the Igorots’ then archaic lifestyle, he dubbed the City of Pines “The Land of the Headhunters.” The awful-sounding tag, though, did not echo in his photos. Instead, his penchant for nature and human interest dominated his self-titled anthology.

Among his prized co

lections were black-and-white geographical shots of Baguio’s untamed and rugged terrain, the nearly-as-famous-as-Banaue rice paddies, the pristine beauty of the Cordilleras, cigar-puffing Igorot women, a pretty bare-breasted lass, ricepounding G-stringed men and a pensive old man garbed in a traditional costume and feathery headdress crouching by a panoramic cliff, among others.

Baguio, during

Masferre’s heyday, was thus capsulized as a rustic setting rimmed with breathtaking foggy peaks, prettified with rolling verdant carpet, swathed in fresh pine scent and soaked in wintry Siberian hushes.


Very soon, Baguio thrived as a popular tourist spot and, thus, became the country’s summer capital. Some of its best-known attractions further unfold

ed — Mines View Park, Burnham Park, Wright Park, the Mansion and of course Camp John Hay. CJH soon gave the city an entirely upbeat change as “the” northern destination to reckon with.

Nestled amid a forested territory, the sprawling CJH remains as Baguio City’s finest asset even long after the Americans have left its confines as their R & R spot. The development within was soon complemented b

y the city government’s effort to harness the metropolis’ growth, especially on the moneymaking side.

The Session Road was made more urbane by the Americans and the plaza started to buzz with small industries that would flourish into large-scale commerce. From the small-to-out-sized public market, diminutive food outlets and stores swiftly multiplied.

Over the years, Baguio City has remar

kably evolved into a highly viable trade and travel nucleus. With its fusion of unique cultural, historical and natural allures, it is now the undisputed Number One destination in Northern Philippines with CJH playing a crucial role in tapping its domestic tourism’s dormant strength.

CJH in itself is a well-preserved camp that habitués would like to think of it as their mini Baguio. The camp

’s signature white cottages look pretty perfect amid the pine-studded sloping greens. Aside from the eco-trails and picnic bends, there’s always ample space for one’s favorite ball sports like soccer, softball, basketball and baseball, children’s playground, bicycle, mini cars and skating rinks and the famed golf-course.

While CJH executes its master plan of expansion, Baguio City was simultan

eously harnessing another top revenue-earner – vertical infrastructure. The city yielded, among others, one-stop-shops or mid-sized commercial clusters such as the Nevada Square and Abanao Square.

Then, the city shed its quaint appeal for a trendy image with the boom of invading Manila-based malls and their local counterparts. Vying for a chunky share of the money-spinning enterprise are the three year-old Center Mall, the two-year-old Cooyesan Mall & Hotel, a year-old Porta Vaga and the on-going construction of Shoe Mart Mall & Hotel.

Obviously, Masferre’s Baguio is a whole lot modish now than before. Why, even the Igorots are no longer commonly seen with their usual garb on, they’re now sporting cool jeans, shirts and shades. Except of course for a few native-clad grannies and granddads, who would love to pose anytime with you for posterity at the Botanical Garden — in exchange, of course, for a few bucks.

[ Burnham Park Wiki ]


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