BAGUIO: What to See at Bell House Museum and Bell Amphitheater, Camp John Hay

May 29, 2015

BAGUIO: What to See at Bell House Museum 
and Bell Amphitheater, Camp John Hay


The Historical Core of Camp John Hay includes the Bell House Museum, Bell Amphitheater, Cemetery of Negativism and Liberty Loop.

At the left of the entrance is the Cemetery of Negativism,
you walk along the path to reach Bell House.

You pay the following entrance fees to the Historical Core:
Standard - 60 pesos 
Residents - 40 pesos 
Senior Citizens/Students - 30 pesos 
Photoshoot fee - 1000 pesos

Bell House was named after Major General J. Franklin Bell "who lived in that house as the commanding General of the American Forces in the Philippines."

From 1911-1914, "General Bell transformed camp John Hay from 'essentially a small convalescent facility into a major molitary resort' (Robert Reed)"

The path to Bell House
On the right is the totem pole you will see below

The details about the totem pole
"Carved by Erneto Dul-ang, a succession of historical figures during the first half of the 20th century from a totem pole that once looked out over the top of scout hill."

The historical figures carved in the totem pole are those instrumental in the development of Baguio and Camp John Hay. Note that everyone of them are Americans. Only Emilio Aguinaldo is Filipino

The historical figures from the top: Admiral George Dewey, General Emilio Aguinaldo, President William Howard Taft, Secretary John Milton Hay, William Cameron Forbes, President Theodore Roosevelt, Major General Franklin Bell, Lt. Col. Lyman W. Kennon, Mayor James Halsema, General Douglas MacArthur.


Twin brass seals that used to adorn Camp John Hay's main gate
It's now seen at the entrance of Bell House


The living room of Bell House (Click the photo to see the panoramic view

Programme of Camp John Hay Turnover Rites
(July 1, 1991)
National Anthem by Department of Tourism Chorale
Invocation by Bishop Gabriel Reyes
Welcome Remarks by Baguio City Mayor James Bugnosan
Remarks by DFA Secretary Raul Manglapus
Remarks by US Ambassador Nicholas Platt
Exchange of Diplomatic Notes by Hon. Maglapus and Platt
Closing Remarks by Tourism Acting Secretary Rafael Alunan

Another view of the living room


Click the photo to see a panaromic view

Click the photo to see a panaromic view


The terrace around Bell House



"Major General Bell took a personal hand in the design and supervised the construction of Italian Garden and the amphitheater beside the commanding general's summer residence. It was built using indigenous Ifugao terracing technology, he harnessed the acoustic properties of the natural amphitheater." (taken from the description of Major General shown above)

Click the photo to see a panaromic view of Bell Amphiteater


BAGUIO: Revisiting My Favorite Meals at Mario's Restaurant

May 26, 2015

BAGUIO: Revisiting My Favorite Meals at Mario's Restaurant

Ever since my husband and I got married, it has been our tradition to dine at Mario's Restaurant every time we visit Baguio. We have been married for 22 years. When our kids were small, we frequently brought them to Baguio. But from 2006 to 2013, we stopped visiting Baguio. Either we brought the kids overseas during summer or we visited beach destinations. Last year, we revisited Baguio, and of course, we had to dine at Mario's Restaurant once again.

Our favorite meals were just as we remembered it. So I'm sharing with you the meals that we love ordering at Mario's during date nights without the kids while on vacation in Baguio.

French Onion Soup
(195 pesos)

Caesar's salad
(260 pesos)

Filet Mignon
(690 pesos)

My husband and I usually order French Onion Soup, Caesar's Salad and Filet Mignon. But when we brought the kids with us to Mario's last year, they tried the Paella Valenciana and we liked it as well. 

Paella Valenciana (for 2-3 persons)
(675 pesos)

So this year, on our 22nd anniversary, my husband and I went up to Baguio for the weekend and of course dined at Mario's Restaurant on the day of our anniversary. We ordered the Paella Valenciana and Caesar's Salad. And this time brought our own wine from my husband's personal collection at home, the 2005 Rioja Reserva Artistas Espanoles Gaudi Lealtanza. 

My tips:

1. If you have good wine at home, better to bring it and pay the 250 pesos corkage. 

2. The paella takes quite a while to cook. To avoid a long wait time, call and order it in advance and tell them what time you will be arriving.

3. Call for reservations specially if you're arriving around 7:00 PM and on a weekend. The place is full. Or you can arrive at 8:00 PM or 9:00 PM. The restaurant closes at 10:00 PM.


The new location of Mario's Restaurant is at Upper Session Road, near Panagbenga Park and beside the new branch of Cafe by the Ruins.

Address: Upper Session Road, Baguio City
Telephone Numbers: + 63 74-442-4241, + 63 74-442-5445
Facebook of Mario's Baguio City: 

BAGUIO: Discovering the Camp John Hay History Trail

May 23, 2015

BAGUIO: Discovering the Camp John Hay History Trail

This trail tells the story of Camp John Hay. Walk the trail and discover how Camp John Hay evolved in history and became what it is now.

For those who wish to read the content of the photos in detail, you can click the photo and enlarge it. For those who only wish to read the summary, I will place a summary or an excerpt underneath each photo. 

This is the entrance of the History Trail.
It's across the Bell House Museum.

"In the 1990's, Camp John Hay was at the center of a whirl of transformation. So radical was its face changed, this evolving history trail is now a window of a time gone by. It is part of a historical core that has been deemed inviolate to changes in taste and impervious to whims and politics.

Follow the trail... take in the sights...get a feel of an earlier time...then take a moment to let the whispering pines tell you of the story of Camp John Hay."

CJH Through the Years


An ancient land in the Cordillera Mountains known as Kafagway was free from Spanish rule because of it's inaccesibility.

The land covering the present-day central business district of Baguio and Camp John Hay was the grazing land of the Carino family.

When the Americans came, the way of life of the Kafagway ended. The Americans were determined to make this area a haven to escape the heat in the lowlands and to mine the gold in the mountains.


Although the Spaniards did not occupy Kafagway, they sent officers to make a survey on plans to take advantage of the temperate climate. "Their report serves as a basis for plans to set up a hospital and sanitarium as well as access roads to the area. However, these plans were never implemented." The Americans came and occupied the Philippines.

The Americans, under the command of Captain Robert Rudd, stumbled upon Baguio in November 1899 while pursuing revolutionaries headed for the North. "While in the area, Captain Rudd established a military outpost. With uncanny foresight he built his one-room headquarters near a spring in an area that would later be made into the military reservation known as Camp John Hay.


Captain Rudd established the first American military outpost but Dean Connant Worcester was the one who informed the officials in Washington D.C. about claims that there existed a "pine-covered highland with temperatures that were 'cool, even cold at times'."

Worcester went to Baguio in July 1900 to verify the report they found of an earlier Spanish expedition in the area. They made temperature readings in the area and compared it to the temperature in Manila. The report showed that because of its cooler climate, the area is fit to be a health resort.

"Their report set the stage for the development of Baguio and gave a sense of urgency to plans of building a military hill station. Having a refuge from the heat was viewed by Governor General William Howard Taft as 'the means of recuperating the army of the United States in the most economic method.' Baguio and the military station, thus, become a practical alternative to sending troops back to the United States to recover from the rigors of a tour of duty in the tropics."

Within months, the construction of Kennon Road was started. Kennon Road was completed in 1905. With the completion of Kennon Road, "the physical development of the city and hill station shifted to high gear.""By the 1920s, Camp John Hay's development before the war had reached its full extent." Camp John Hay had evolved from a military convalescence outpost to a haven of rest and recreation.

The 1920's and the 1930s were the golden years of Camp John Hay (You need to read this in detail from the photo to get a feel of how life was like at Camp John Hay during this time)

You divert to this path to reach the markers below


After Pearl Harbor was bombed in December 1941, Camp John Hay was bombed too. Within two weeks, Baguio and Camp John Hay fell into the hands of the Japanese. Americans, British and European nationals became prisoners at Camp John Hay. When Bataan fell in April 9, 1942, the prisoners was transferred to Camp Holmes in La Trinidad. Camp John Hay became an army post.

General Yamashita often moved to Camp John Hay to avoid the bombing of Allied aircraft. In the end, Camp John Hay became the venue of the official surrender of General Yamashita and the Japanese armed forces.

You can read the details here on what occurred at Camp John Hay on the day General Yamashita surrendered.

The path ends at the Secret Garden

The Gazebo at the Secret Garden with a great view

You can stay here and rest, and savor the peace and quiet.


After World War II, Camp John Hay was rehabilitated to resume its role as a rest and recreation facility. Rehabilitation was done from August to November 1945.

After the Philippines became a sovereign nation, American troops were reduced. The RP-US Bases Agreement, which allowed US bases to stay in the Philippines for 99 years was signed. Camp John Hay's jurisdiction was transferred from the US Army to the US Air Force. 

In the coming years, several changes were made on the RP-US Bases agreement which affected access to Camp John Hay. The policy used to be that Camp John Hay is for the exclusive use of American servicemen. As revisions were made on the agreement, like the reversion of title of Camp John Hay to the Philippine government, Filipinos are able to gain more access to it.


Camp John Hay Development Corporation was created to manage and develop Camp John Hay


Camp John Hay History Trail is across Bell House Museum
In the photo, Bell House Museum is on the left, you can see the trail on the right