A Brief History of Baguio City

The history of Baguio City goes back way before the Spanish occupation. Based on the available data, the earliest known inhabitants of the area were the Ibabol and Kankaney tribes, both stemming from the Cordilleran group.

During the period of Spanish occupation, the area comprising Baguio was known as Kafagway, From the late 1500s to the 1600s, the Spaniards sent several teams in an attempt6 to seize control of the entire Benguet province, but it was only in 1946 that the Spaniards were able to fully control the area, which would change the course of the history of Baguio City.



Under Spanish Commandante Galvey, the province of Benguet was set up, composed of 31 areas. This included La Trinidad, which remains the capital of Benguet and the Kafagway, which would become Baguio.

The next important stage in the history of Baguio City came when the Spanairds sold the Philippines to the United States of America for the sum of $20,000. The Americans found the Kafagway and the surrounding area very pleasant, as the pine trees and elevated area provided a cool respite from the warm, low lying plains. To make Kafagway more accessible, the Americans created Kennon Road. Sculpted from the mountains itself, it has remained a landmark of the city to this day.

By the 1900s, the city had been named the capital of Benguet and was quickly established as a haven for weary travelers and servicemen, and also became widely known for its mining. By 1909, Baguio was already known as the Summer Capital of the Philippines.

HISTORY OF BAGUIO CITYThe Japanese forces took control of Baguio in 1941, but by 1945, the American Armed Forces were able to wrest back control of Camp John Hay, Following the end of the war, the Philippines was granted independence, including Benguet, opening a new chapter in the history of Baguio City.

From 1946 onward the city remained the premier summer vacation and tourist spot in the country. A devastating earthquake on July 16, 1990 brought ruin and tragedy, but through the efforts of the government and its citizens the city made a quick recovery. Another important event in the history of Baguio City took place on July 1, 1991 when Camp John Hay, established in 1903, was turned over to the Philippine government.

Today, despite the emergence of other tourist and scenic sites in the country, Baguio City remains the favorite vacation spot of both local and foreign tourists. With its beautiful pine trees, ever cool climate and friendly people, it will certainly continue to draw even more people as the years go by.

Cultural Baguio

When Baguio was an American mining and recreational town, the citizens of the city worked side by side with the Cordillera natives.

It is precisely this rich blend of a Western landscape and tribal FIlipino culture that makes the City of Pines so interesting.

Baguio today is a melting pot of the Cordillera tribes, who like to refer to themselves as highlanders, as well as Filipinos from the lowland provinces of Luzon. A lot of the images and products of Baguio are of the ‘Igorots’ themselves still: woven cloths and baskets, wood carvings, and even wild ethnic food.


The Baguio art scene can only be described as thriving! With famous painter and Philippine National Artist BenCab and sculptor Ben-Hur
Baguio Art & Artists
Villanueva in residence. They lead a whole pack of young artists whose works now enjoy a growing market.

Baguio music thrives, too, with a host of local bands and singers who have spread their wings to hotspots like Manila — and beyond. Musicales, concerts and plays by visiting artists are a common occurrence in concert halls and during street festivals, the foremost of which is the Panagbenga, every February.

Feast your senses on the different colors and flavors of the City of Pines, take a peek into its history and bring home with you all the memories as souvenirs of this one-of-a-kind place on earth.
Then There’s Cultural Baguio
Have your potrait done by any of the Baguio artists at the Botanical Garden Gallery or at Tam-awan Village. Ask them for available art workshop schedules, too.

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While at Botanical Garden, explore the native huts of different tribes and check out the giant statues of the different personages that are familiar to the Cordillera tribes.

Visit the Cordillera Museum at Governor Pack Road, or go to Asin and check out the newly-opened Bencab Museum

Get a tribal tattoo in Session Road (henna tattoos also available).

Visit the Camp John Hay Historical Core at what used to be Bell House (Commander’s Cottage). It’ll give you a look at the recreational facility during American time.

Pose for a photo with real natives is full native dress at the Botanical Garden entrance.

Get your photo taken in native dress at Mines View Park — it just costs Php20 per person to get outfitted in a G-string with a shield and spear for the men and a skirt and vest for the women!

Visit the Orchidarium at Burnham Park.

Check out the exhibits at other galleries like the Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary and VOCAS at La Azotea building.

Call the Department of Tourism in Baguio and get a list of current cultural shows scheduled during your visit. Here are their telephone numbers 63 (74) 442-8848 and 63 (74) 442-7014

Stroll down Session Road in the early evening and check out recent works by budding craftsmen on display at the entrance to La Azotea building.

Attend a demonstration at the Easter Weaving Room

Go to the dry goods section of the public market and ask after the different weaves and handicrafts for sale there

Visit the Woodcarver’s Village at Asin Road and see the artists at work. It’s a kilometer-long series of workshops and shops on both sides of the road.

And would you believe that in the Summer Capital one can view the first Philippine flag? The Aguinaldo Museum at Jungletown, run by the heirs of Emilio Aguinaldo who was the first president of the Philippines, has the flag on display, as well as other memorabilia.