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Baguio: RP’s ultimate destination
Source: Manila Bulletin
Author: By Lynda B. Valencia
Date: 2004-09-24
BAGUIO CITY (PNA) – This city, no doubt has remained a favorite summer place among travelers, seasoned or not. It is due primarily to the invigorating climate and perhaps, too, the congenial feeling it breeds among the visitors, romantic or otherwise. The name Baguio is long been synonymous with pine trees, rolling verdant hills. The name means getting on board a bus or driving through the dizzying zigzags of Kennon Road, Naguillian Road or Marcos Highway, past deep gorges into the mountainsides by roaring torrents far, far, below.

Baguio also means savoring a whiff of pine-scented mountain air, fresh vegetables and lovely flowers, baskets of strawberries, jars of jam preserves and peanut brittle.

It means walking down the Session Road bundled in sweaters. Hiking through forest trails, puffing up 202 steps to the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, pony riding at Wright Park, golf and steak barbecue at Camp John Hay (CJH), sitting by the fireplace, waking up to the sound of birds chirping, listening to the buzz of silence, buying “pasalubongs” from the public market, the Good Shepherd or Mines View Park or just going to the new SM mall to relax and stroll.

Baguio is the nearest thing to a mountain retreat this tropical, humid country possesses. Some Manilans even go up in the coldest months – December and January – just to have a taste of “temperate” climes.

People continue to come here because it is the country’s favorite destination, to have a honeymoon, conduct convention, take school field trips and have romantic adventures.

They come here also to study in learning institutions like UP, St. Louis and a more specific nature, the Philippine Military Academy.

Baguio is the region’s business center, producing agricultural products, handicrafts, as well as stuffs from the export processing zone located near the Loakan airport.

It is also the venue of the Flower Festival popularly known as Panagbenga. Just to see flowers with different sizes and colors is already a thrill.

CJH, which is located here, is the former rest and recreation (R&R) haven for the United States Armed Forces.

The historical landmark rests atop 246 hectares of what is Baguio’s most beautiful tract of prime land. Standing on the side of the old Main Club where people used to enjoy bingo nights, dancing, roast beef and burgundy, the CJH Manor offers more than memorable evenings.

The Manor, the first condotel constructed as part of the Master Development plan of CJH, offers the chance for longer vacations in the comfort of cozy one-and-two bedroom or studio type units with verandahs.

Benigno T. Cabrieto, Jr., Chief Operating Officer of CJH Development Corp. (CJHDevCo) said as part of the hotel cluster, the Manor is a four-storey condotel housing 180 units, composed of 102 studio with double-beds, 24 studio with king-size beds, 42 one-bedroom suites, and 12-two-bedroom suites. It promises a feeling of home as guests enter its lobby.

Cabrieto said dining al fresco is enhanced by the historical Friendship Garden where statues of President Manuel L. Quezon and US President Abraham Lincoln can be found. It had no less than Recto & Casas for the architectural expertise and interior design by Steven, Leach & Associates.

“The opening of Manor is seen to make a significant contribution to Baguio’s tourism by helping answer for the lack of accommodation facilities especially during the peak season. We are now constructing additional rooms beside the already standing Manor,” Cabrieto said.

Similar to the Manor, the CJH Suites with 100-additional units, will offer modern conveniences of a world-class hotel. Further amenities will include a music lounge with a cozy piano bar, fine dining restaurants, fitness center, expert novelty shops and more.

The 287-unit Suites stands on the former 19th Tee, which affords a splendid view of the Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course and the majestic Cordillera range, Cabrieto said.

On the other hand, the CAP-John Hay Trade and Cultural Center is an impressive two-level edifice that can house a wide range of functions. It is a perfect venue for conventions, seminars, and special events.

The main hall can seat around 1,700 persons while the balcony is tiered with 1,000 fixed theater seats. Its spacious lobby and hallways can likewise accommodate exhibits or serve as an external function area for registration and buffet settings. The conference room can fit 16 to 100 persons.

Beyond the thick forest growth stands a perfect respite from the busy world – the Country Homes, the Country Log Homes, Log Homes, Corporate Lodges/Villas and the Family Units.

The Country Homes are single detached units. It has three bedrooms with an attic. Log Homes are single detached units with garage, three bedrooms, double volume living and dining room with a viewdeck, fireplace at the living and master’s bedroom, den, attic, driver’s and maid’s quarters.

The Country Log Homes are single detached units with an interior structure of a country home and exterior feature of a log home. Its general features include living and dining with viewdeck, fireplace at the living and master’s bedroom, two bedrooms, and maid’s quarters.

Cedar Logs used to clad the exterior are imported from Canada. The master planner of all these residential homes is American Robert Lamb Hart, while the architectural designer is RR Payumo and Associates.

The 18th hole CJH Golf Course continues to be home to the prestigious Fil-Am Golf Tournament, the world’s largest amateur golf tournament with over 800 participants from the Philippines, US and the Pacific. It has been upgraded to a par 69 championship golf course by Golden Bear International.

Once the administrative center of the camp, the Post Headquarters building still stands, featuring various shops and restaurants including duty free shops.

Scout Hill in 1918, served as the home and training ground of the Philippine scouts. It was a concentration camp for American nationals and their allies during the Japanese occupation. Now, it has been the home of many of the outdoor sports and recreational facilities.

The Igorot Lodge, originally a hospital is now leased to the Asian Institute of Management (AIM).

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