Camp John Hay is a favorite destination among people visiting Baguio City. But apart from it being a resort popular among tourists, the 690-hectare land holds so much history.
Back in 1903, Camp Jon Hay, named after U.S. Secretary of State John Milton Hay, was established under the executive order of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt and served as an exclusive military reservation for American soldiers. During the World War II, it was bombed by the Japanese, killing soldiers and civilians in the area. It was under the control of the Japanese in 1941, but it was a short-lived reign as Camp John Hay and the city of Baguio fell back into the hands of Americans in 1945, with the help of the combined forces of the U.S. and the Philippines.
Camp John Hay, also known as John Hay Air Base, is said to be older than the city where it stands. Okay, I know you’re probably bored now, so let’s get on with the tour. 😀
There’s a lot to see inside Camp John Hay. So if you really want the complete experience, I suggest you spend an entire day exploring the place to soak in its rich history and take on the many adventures that await you!
Tree Top Adventure
If you want to go to a less-touristy spot in Camp John Hay, and if you’re up for adrenaline-pumping activities, you can head over to Tree Top Adventure. I learned about this place on TV, when I was watching Pinoy Big Brother. lol
We took the Canopy Ride, wherein we traveled through the woods, 100 feet off the ground. It was pretty chill, comfortable, and far from the other adrenaline-pumping rides that the park has to offer. I don’t have a lot of photos for this one, but you can get a glimpse of my experience by watching my Baguio City travel video here.
The entrance fee to the park is Php 100, which is deductible from the price of the adventure of your choice. Aside from the Canopy Ride (Php 250), their other adventures include the following:
- Superman Ride – Php 300
- Tree Drop – Php 150
- Trekking + Skywalk – Php 100
- Silver Surfer – Php 200
I wanted to try everything, especially the Superman Ride and the Tree Drop, but I was trying to keep my expenses at a minimum. Sad. Maybe next time. Anyway, they also offer adventure packages. You may check out their website for more info. Note that the park is open only until 4:30 PM.
Cemetery of Negativism
Upon entering the Camp John Hay Historical Core, which is at the heart of Camp John Hay, you will have access to the Cemetery of Negativism (also called The Lost Cemetery). No dead bodies are buried here despite it being called a “cemetery.” This resting place, however, is a symbolic site for burying the negativities we have in our lives, such as negative attitudes, negative habits, negative thoughts, and negative feelings.
There are a lot of “tombs” in here and I personally enjoyed the play on words. A lot of them made me smile and giggle a little bit, but also ponder at the same time. These three are only a few of my favorites.
Bell House and Ampitheater
A vital part of the Camp John Hay Historical Core is the Bell House. No bells here though! It was named after Major General J. Franklin Bell, who used to be the commanding General of the American Forces in the Philippines. This historical landmark was designed by General Bell himself. It now serves as a museum that gives the visitors a peek into the American colonial period through architecture.
Right outside the Bell House is the Bell Ampitheater, an Italian garden that was also designed by General Bell himself. It is now a popular a venue for wedding receptions and other special events. This picture may not have done justice to the beauty of the place, but it looks amazing in real life, I tell you.
I’ve had the chance to learn (or re-learn) stuff about butterflies at the Butterfly Sanctuary. In here, you will see the different stages of metamorphosis. There is a caretaker who will explain the process, which is a great way to refresh what we’ve learned from elementary science. Did you know that butterflies can actually live longer in warmer places and have a shorter lifespan in low temperature? Since each stage of metamorphosis takes time, in a cold place like Baguio City, the process is actually longer than the butterfly’s life.
The Manor is a cabin-themed five-star hotel located inside Camp John Hay. God knows how badly I wanted to stay in this hotel, but I had to book a different one because the room rates here are quite expensive for a group of four. I have to admit, the very reason why I wanted to see The Manor, even just from the outside, is because it was one of the main locations used in my favorite teleserye of all time, “Forevermore,” starring Enrique Gil and Liza Soberano. “Xander?” 😀 Okay, you can laugh now!
Choco-late de Batirol
Another tourist favorite inside Camp John Hay is this quaint cafe that serves the best hot chocolate in town. Their traditional hot chocolate is a must-try, I tell you. It’s perfect for the cold Baguio weather and it comes in different flavor fusions too. It was a looooong walk going here since it’s at the far end of Camp John Hay, but the hike was worth it. However, I suffered a really bad stomachache after our time here, probably because of too much chocolate intake or simply because I ate too much that day. Happens all the time!
We ordered their traditional hot chocolate, champorado with tuyo, bibingka, suman sa lihia, and turon de langka. I can’t remember any of the prices though. I just remembered that I enjoyed my champorado with tuyo so much. Sorry!
Other sights to see
The Totem Pole
Meet (from the top) Admiral George Dewey, General Emilio Aguinaldo (the only Filipino), 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, and General Douglas MacArthur. These men helped shape not only Camp John Hay, but Baguio City as well.
The description says, “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.”
Paintball Republic Extreme Outdoor Adventure Park
It’s a haven for adrenaline junkies. Check out their Facebook page for rates.
Pine trees. Pine trees, everywhere!
Now, I know Baguio City is called the “City of Pines,” but with the all the establishments present in the city center, there aren’t that many pine trees in sight anymore, except maybe in Burnham Park. However, there are still a lot of these tall trees in the areas a bit far from the center, especially in Camp John Hay.
There’s also a secret garden (which isn’t really a secret) somewhere in Camp John Hay, but we just didn’t have time to go there anymore. I’m not even sure how much time we spent here. I’m guessing it was just a few hours. Maybe it’s another sign that I should take a trip to Baguio again someday?
What other spots have I missed? Feel free to leave a comment! 🙂
I am a twenty-something free spirit from Cebu, Philippines. I love to travel, take photos, and write about my experiences. When I’m not traveling, I go freediving wherever. I aim to inspire others to care for the environment, especially our oceans as it is the lifeblood of our planet.