Baguio: Camp John Hay’s 10 Places to Explore
A former military station of the United States Army established in the 1900s during the Philippine-American War. Because of favorable cool climate, the site was chosen as the reserved campsite for soldiers and was named Camp John Hay in 1903 under a Presidential order signed by U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, and the rest is history (link).
At the former military complex are several facilities equally distributed and are almost adjacent to each other to explore. While delving in and experiencing some activities here, you are more immersed and brought closer to history and to nature as well.
Due to its large size at almost 246 hectares, the place is not very crowded (compared to other tourist spots in Baguio) and so vast to explore. So, we selected the top ten spots for you to explore. They are almost adjacent and connected to each other (including 5 historical cores) and you can visit all of it in a day.
Named after Major General James Franklin Bell who headed the design of architectures in Camp John Hay. This is the center of the camp’s historical core.
It serves as the guest house of the visiting dignitaries. Open to the public, you can see here photos and important facilities and furniture mirroring the lifestyle of high-ranking officials visiting here.
The terrace used to offer a great view of the mountains, but such view is obstructed by pine trees.
Admission: PhP60 (part of Camp John Hay History Core tour includes Bell Amphitheater, Cemetery of Negativism, Totem Pole and Secret Garden)
Beside the Bell House is the Bell Amphitheater, also designed by Bell himself. It is surrounded by flowers of varying species and its terraces are carpeted by green lawn grass. At the middle of the sunken garden is the gazebo that serves as stage for events especially weddings. It is also a perfect place for photo-ops or prenups.
CEMETERY OF NEGATIVISM
Also known as the lost cemetery or pet cemetery and one of the sites within the Historical Core. The cemetery is a symbolic burial place of negativism – man’s greatest self-imposed infliction, most limiting factor and heaviest burden. It is designed by Base Commander John High Tower during the 1980s.
Those “interred” here have witty names that implied negative traits, complete with their birth and death names, like Kantdu Nothin Wright (Born: December 5, 1905; Died: June 14, 1903), Letz Study It (Delayed birth, step childhood never reached maturity), and others. Those who are overly negative were never born, like Itz Not Possible (Conceived: November 11, 1905; still not born).
HISTORY TRAIL AND SECRET GARDEN
While walking along the trail, you will learn more about the history of Camp John Hay thanks to the signages installed at each station. Some of these signages were so faded by time that they can be barely read. But the trail is very rewarding because of its serene ambience.
Carved by Ernesto Dul-ang, the wooden totem pole contains heads of historical figures who helped shape the history of Camp John Hay, Baguio and the entire country as a whole. The heads depicted are of Admiral George Dewey, Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, U.S. President William H. Taft, U.S. Secretary John Hay, Governor General William Forbes, U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, Major General Franklin Bell, Lt. Col. Lyman Kennon, Mayor James Halsema and Gen. Douglas MacArthur.
A small park located at the center of Liberty Loop. But the highlight of this park is the replica of the Statue of Liberty constructed in December 1981. It is 48 inches tall (similar to that of its sister in Siene, Paris, but only 48 feet tall). The park is surrounded by benches and towering pine trees.
- Admission: Free
Experience the extreme – this is the tagline of nature park-cum-adventure ground. Attractions like the Superman ride (zipline), Silver Surfer, Tree Top Adventure and Canopy Ride (cable ride) gives an unusual thrill especially being surrounded by tall trees.
But for those just seeking a simple perspiring activity, trekking and skywalk may be for you. You will definitely enjoy walking along the yellow road trail while feeling the cool refreshing Baguio climate. At the end of the 300-meter trek is the skywalk that offers breathtaking views of the mountain ranges of Benguet.
To ensure their safety, patrons must first undergo safety briefing and they have to sign a waiver stating that they are physically fit for such activities.
- Admission: PhP100, consumable for a single activity or package
- Canopy Ride and Trekking: PhP250.00
- Superman Ride PHP 300.00
- Tree Drop Adventure PHP 150.00
- Trekking and Skywalk PHP 100.00
- Silver Surfer Ride PHP 200.00
If you want to enjoy nature minus the crowd, the picnic point in Camp John Hay is a perfect place to go. Located along the slope of Scout Hill, the place is abundant with trees serving as shades for the picnic-goers. Admission is free unless if you want to use one of their picnic tables. It is also one of the favorite spots for photo-ops; we don’t remember any visit without someone having a pictorial there.
- Admission: Free
- Picnic Table – PhP200
- Picnic Ground – PhP15
- Electricity – PhP400
If taking a taxi going to Camp John Hay, most likely this will be your drop-off point. This is the name of the hill that once served as the station for American soldiers. Except/Aside for the picnic area, several facilities were constructed at the hilltop to provide different activities that you can explore like the Butterfly Sanctuary, Go Kart/Bike, and children’s playground. Horseback riding here is more refreshing, less crowded and more scenic compared to that of Wright Park.
- Parking Lot: Free
- Children’s Playground: Free
- Butterfly Sanctuary: P70
- Go Kart/Bike rental:
- Horseback Ride: 400/hr
THE YELLOW TRAIL
Though not much popular and is seldom visited, the Yellow Trail in Camp John Hay is a perfect place for those seeking perspiration or just to enjoy nature. While taking the red-brown trail you just find yourself in the middle of the pine tree forest. You can be able to complete the loop within two hours, depending on your speed.
The trail is located at the Filling Station, near the horseback riding stables. The trail starts here and ends near the Tree Top Adventure.
Note: Avoid entering the gate at the U.S. Embassy because it’s no longer part of the trail.
- Admission: Free
- Wright Park
- The Mansion
- Mines View Park
- The Manor