US to help preserve American-built heritage sites in Baguio

BAGUIO CITY — The United States Embassy in the Philippines is willing to work with the Baguio City government in preserving heritage sites built by the Americans in the City of Pines.

In celebrating US Independence Day in Baguio on Friday, Deputy Chief of Mission Michael Klecheski said they might even send their best architects for the initiative.

At the celebration, Klecheski talked on the “Philippine-American relations and the influence of the Americans in the art and architecture of Baguio City” at the Baguio-Mountain Province Museum.

The city is located approximately 1,540 meters above sea level in what the World Wide Fund calls the Luzon tropical pine forests ecoregion, “which also makes it conducive for the growth of mossy plants and orchids”.

Baguio is nestled within the central Cordillera mountain range in northern Philippines.

This mountain resort city was established as a hill station by the Americans, starting with the construction of the Kennon Road in the 1900s.

Baguio City’s central business was also designed by American architect Daniel Burnham as the Americans’ rest and recreation facility, the reason many of the roads are named after Americans.

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

The Session Road got its name for 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.

Klecheski also said the US embassy would aid the city’s Mountain Province museum, which houses various artifacts about the different provinces of the Cordillera.

The American official said Baguio Museum has something that the Americans value so much and consider unique, such as bringing the Cordillera region’s diverse culture together.

“It brings diverse culture together, the influences of the different tribes, which America considers as very important. The legacy that keeps on living,” Klecheski noted.

He said he is delighted to know more about the region’s diverse culture and the impact of the Philippines-US bilateral relations.

He also noted how American private companies, even the “powerful” ones, choose to invest in the Philippines, specifically in Baguio.

The highland city is host to one of the top American companies, Texas Instruments, also one of the Philippines’ top exporters at present.

Klecheski said the educated people in Baguio would assure the continued exemplary performance of the workforce that sustains the US company.

At the event, Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan said the city has a lot of infrastructures that mirror the relationship of the country with the Americans, who liberated the country from the Spaniards.

City Councilor Mylen Yaranon, who heads the committee on public works, said the Baguio City government would be glad to partner with the Americans in preserving the structures and sites, once the city government declares the heritage places.

“This is also to make culture and creativity as a driving force in the development of the city’s image,” Yaranon said.

With its unique diverse culture, Baguio was hailed as a “creative city” by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) for its distinguished crafts and folk art.

Baguio Rep. Mark Go was instrumental in the passage of a House Bill declaring Kennon Road a heritage site.

The bill is now pending at the Senate and when passed, will allow funds to go into the full rehabilitation of the historic road that opened Baguio City to trade and investments. Pamela Mariz Geminiano/PNA –