Declaration of Burnham Park as heritage site sought

BAGUIO CITY — Baguio City Representative Mark Go has filed House Bill (HB) 7966 seeking to declare Burnham Park as a National Heritage Park.

“Preserving our rich cultural heritage like Burnham Park will stregthen our foundation in nation-building that would eventually benefit not only our country but also our future generation,” Go said on Friday.

Go explained that Burnham Park has become a part of the progress and prosperity of the City of Pines.

Burnham was designed in 1904 and named after city-planner and American architect Daniel Burnham. It has served many generations of families, both locals and tourists. Aside from being the most visited attraction, it also served as “home”, when it was converted as a “tent city” after the deadly July 16, 1990 earthquake.

Go’s bill mandates the Department of Tourism (DOT) and the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), in coordination with the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) and the city government of Baguio, to prioritize Burnham Park in their conservation and development plans.

Go said the park is now composed of cluster areas, namely, the Ibaloi Heritage Garden, Burnham Lagoon, Children’s Playground, Rose Garden, Igorot Garden, Orchidarium, Sunshine Park, Pine Trees of the World Park, Picnic Grove, Melvin Jones Grandstand, the historic Japanese Peace Tower, and the Athletic Bowl, where many athletes train and compete.

During the celebration of the United States Independence Day in Baguio last July, Deputy Chief of Mission Michael Klecheski said the US Embassy in the Philippines is willing to work with the Baguio City government in preserving heritage sites built by Americans in the City of Pines.

Baguio City was built by the Americans starting from the construction of Kennon Road to open up the area, which they saw as conducive to rest and recreation because of its cool weather.

Go also filed HB 5017, which seeks to declare Kennon Road as a national heritage zone.

Aside from Burnham Park, the Baguio Country Club, Camp John Hay, Teachers Camp, The Mansion, and other infrastructure in Baguio were also built by the Americans after they saw the natural beauty of the mountainous place.

The Session Road in Baguio got its name from being the venue of the first session of the second Philippine Commission in 1904. The road was used by the members of the Commission, when they held the session in Baguio.