Part Two of Two Parts

TAM-AWAN VILLAGE

The Tam-Awan Village is found in the northwestern part of the city. To find the village, proceed to Bokawkan Road which is behind Camp Allen, turn left at Ferguzon Road which leads to the Easter Weaving Room, and then right to Tacay Road which is an uphill climb. Upon reaching the top of the hill, take a right turn and this road will bring you to Tam-Awan Village. If you proceed further on, the road will take you to the town of La Trinidad.

There are a number of Igorot huts within the village which will allow you to see how the homes of the mountain people really look like. You do get a chance to climb up the wooden ladder and see what is inside each hut. This will give you a chance to feel what it is like to be living in one of these huts. Since these huts were set up on different locations on a hillside, visitors have to climb up the steep pathways to go from one hut to another. For a lowlander who is not accustomed to Baguio's high elevation, it does get to be quite an exhilarating experience to visit the Tam-Awan village. One will surely find a need to rest at each hut just to catch a breathe before climbing further up.

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The village has a main hut which serves as a store and an information office for visitors. There are a few native handicraft items that are sold aside from some books and publications about the Igorot people, their culture and traditions. You can also order a hot cup of native coffee which gets to be a welcome treat after completing a tour of the entire village, especially on a cold and rainy day.

If you do manage to climb up to the hut located at the highest point in the village, you will be rewarded with a panoramic view of the low-lying areas of La Union Province and also the Gulf of Lingayen which lie due west of Baguio. To be able to do this, be sure to time your ascent before the afternoon fog comes in, otherwise the scenic view will not be visible and all that you will see is the thick fog and the nearby pine tress.


TEACHER'S CAMP

Teachers Camp is located in a large campus-like environment east of downtown Baguio along Leonard Wood Road. The camp is a training center for teachers from all over the country who come to Baguio during the summer time to enroll in special courses in education. Within the camp are classrooms, dormitories, cottages, dining areas, administrative offices, and assembly halls for different activities that are held there. It has its own athletic oval where national athletes who compete in Olympic events are trained.

Teachers Camp first came into being as the vacation normal school in 1908. It was Governor William Pack who outlined a plan to set up a camp in Baguio to accommodate teachers. The plan was approved on January 8, 1908 and the camp was opened on April 6, 1908. During the early days of its inception, only tents were set up to accommodate the classrooms, dining and storage facilities, and a kitchen. It was only a few years later when additional funds were allocated to construct a mess hall, a social center, and the access roads and pathways connecting the different buildings and facilities within the camp. The cottages for the secretary and under secretary of education as well as the camp director's cottage were constructed in 1912. In the following years there were more appropriations alloted for the development of Teachers Camp which resulted in the construction of Benitez Hall, Ladies Hall, Teacher's Hall, Tavera Hall, and the White Hall.

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During the pre-war years, the Philippine Military Academy occupied a large part of Teachers Camp. It was due to the projected increase in the strength of the Cadet Corps that the government was compelled to transfer the Academy out of Camp Henry Allen and temporarily occupy Teachers Camp on May 5, 1936. On June 16, 1936, one hundred and twenty new cadets reported to the grounds of Teachers Camp to join the PMA Class of 1940. It was during the Academy's occupancy of Teachers Camp that General Luna Hall was built in 1937. The Academy has since moved to its own permanent site at Fort Del Pilar. Teachers Camp now caters to conferences, meetings, seminars and social functions sponsored by the government sector. Some of its dormitories and cottages are also rented out to visitors coming up to Baguio but these are not available when the teachers are around for their summer courses.


EASTER WEAVING ROOM

The Easter Weaving Room is the right place to visit if you are interested in native fabrics and other handicraft. Here one can witness the actual process of cloth weaving as practiced by the natives of the mountain provinces for ages. Except for Christmas and the New Year, the Easter Weaving Room is open seven days a week even on Sundays and holidays.

The company is owned and managed by the Philippine Episcopal Church and has greatly contributed financially to the work of Easter School and the church. It is located near the compound of the Bureau of Plant Industry and is easily accessible by taxi. From the downtown area of Baguio, take Abanao Street towards Camp Allen and turn right to Bokawkan Road at the vicinity of the PLDT building. At the lower end of Bokawkan Road, turn left to Easter Road and you will find the Easter Weaving Room compound to your right.

At the Easter Weaving Room you will see for yourself the age-old weaving process at their work area and have a glimpse of the wide range of hand-woven articles such as: tablemates, wall hangings, bed linens, clothings, ethnic and ikat textiles, religious garments, bags, wallets, purses, Christmas articles, footwears, area rugs, etc. They also have wood carvings, baskets, fashion accessories and many more.

Weaving was first started at Easter School in 1909 under the direction of Deaconess Hargreave who was interested in having young women learn weaving with the idea that they might someday earn their own living or help supplement the family income. The weaving classes were continued under various headmasters and headmistresses until it became an important and integral part of the school. The looms and other weaving equipment were destroyed during the 2nd World War but were again established in 1948 with the help of some women who had worked at the Weaving Room before the war. Weaving classes were again started.

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The Weaving Room has grown considerably in the past years that the weavers were no longer able to cope up with many orders from customers. In addition to the teaching program of the school, the Philippine Episcopal Church expanded the Weaving Room by hiring a number of women, who otherwise would have been unemployed. Many of them have large families and their husbands were either unemployed or earn very little. These women have proven themselves to be a great help in supplementing the family income.

Today the Weaving Room is located in a building designed to house several upright looms. It is giving work to several women with expert knowledge in weaving. The quality of the items hand-loomed by expert weavers has carried the reputation of Easter Weaving Room, Inc. across the seas. They have been attracting customers all over the world. Very often, tourists come by busloads. They are treated to the unfolding story of making the exquisite and intricate Montanosa cloth. They are amused as they see the rainbow-arrayed threads being intertwined. Many are awed as expert Igorot hands play along with these threads to produce the products that now make the Easter Weaving Room internationally renowned.


AGUINALDO MUSEUM

The larger-than-life size statue of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo and the museum beside it is an interesting Baguio landmark which could be found at the upper end of Gen. Luna Road in a vicinity referred to by local residents as Jungletown. It is just across the street from the Bonuan Restaurant and has a small park around the statue which is a favorite playground for young children who live nearby. The museum was erected to house personal memorabilia of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo which include the different uniforms and barong tagalogs he once wore, his photographs and those of his family, a work desk, and the wheelchair which he used when he was confined at the Veterans Memorial Hospital. Also on display is a three-dimensional miniature scene depicting his inauguration as president and a replica of the Philippine flag which was originally designed by the general with revolutionary words embroidered on it.

Gen. Aguinaldo, the first elected president of the Provisional Philippine Republic, is best remembered for the proclamation of Philippine independence from Spain on June 12, 1898 in Kawit, Cavite. It was on this day that a huge crowd gathered around Aguinaldo's mansion in Kawit. On the balcony of his home Aguinaldo had the decree of independence read by Ambrosio R. Bautista, an older and respected leader of the revolution. The decree declared that the Filipinos were tired of bearing the yoke of Spanish rule and that they "have the right to be free and independent." When the band began to play the newly composed national anthem, Aguinaldo slowly raised the Philippine flag handsewn by Filipino women in Hong Kong. This signified the birth of a new and independent Filipino nation.

As a leader, Gen. Aguinaldo fought against Spain and later against the United States for the independence of the Philippines. His term also featured the setting up of the Malolos Republic which had its own Congress, Constitution, and officials of the national and local government which proved that Filipinos have the capacity to govern their country. Aguinaldo was only 29 years old when he was elected president. He died in Quezon City on February 6, 1964 just a month and a half before his 95th birthday. He was buried behind his mansion in Kawit, Cavite which had become the center of independence day celebrations in the Philippines and a historic showplace.

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The setting up of the Aguinaldo statue and museum in Baguio instead of in Kawit, Cavite is attributed to the late daughter of Gen. Aguinaldo, Cristina Suntay, who was once a resident of Baguio. This interesting landmark provides local students and history buffs of Baguio access to information about the first elected president of our Provisional Republic and a better understanding of the role he played in our country's struggle for independence.


GOOD SHEPHERD CONVENT

You will find the Good Shepherd Convent in the Mines View Barangay. Its main entrance is along Gibraltar Road and it is within walking distance from the souvenir shops at Mines View Park. Being located in the same general area, the convent is usually the next stop for most visitors coming from Mines View Park. For those riding on a vehicle, enter the convent's gate and take the driveway that leads up to the parking lot inside the compound.

One doesn't really get to see the likes of a convent once inside. What is opened to the public is a retail store. This is the center of the compound where you will usually find people waiting to be served by the salesclerks. The store is popularly known for the different products made by the Good Shepherd nuns and visitors coming up to the city who are familiar with items sold in the store always make it a point buy something to take back home. Among the most sought items are fruit preserves, strawberry and ube jams, cashew and peanut brittle, and coco jam. Most of their products are also sold by different stalls in the Baguio Public Market and at various other outlets within the city. The money generated from the sale of their products is used for the different charities sponsored by the Good Shepherd nuns and also for the maintenance and upkeep of the convent.

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Within the compound are other buildings and facilities of the convent. Aside from being a convent, it is also a place where college and high school students from Catholic institutions spend their retreats. At one end of the parking lot is an observation deck where one gets to see the distant Cordillera mountains and a valley below which are similarly visible from the Mines View Park. The compound of the Good Shepherd Convent also has some gardens planted with assorted trees and colorful flowering plants. With the presence of the many pine trees in the compound, it is one place in Baguio where you get to smell the fresh pine-scented mountain air.


DOMINICAN HILL

When it was still accessible and opened to the public, Dominican Hill was usually the next stop for visitors who go to the Lourdes Grotto since it was just nearby. The hill was well visited not only by local and foreign tourists but also by the residents of Baguio because of the panoramic view it provided of the city. The view from the hill is without doubt breathtaking and about the best there is to see and experience.

From atop the hill you can see the whole of City Camp all the way to Burnham Park and the Baguio Cathedral. Towards the left one could see Quezon Hill, Camp Allen, the Baguio Public Market, Center Mall, the campus of Saint Louis University, and Quirino Hill. The Marcos Highway, Green Valley Country Club, and the Sto. Tomas mountain are also visible from Dominican Hill. At night when there are no clouds in the sky, it is a sight to behold to see the glow of the city lights blending beautifully with the twinkling stars in the heavens. The best time to visit the hill and to take photographs is between mid-afternoon and just about an hour before sunset when the sun is still shinning brightly on the city.

The Dominican Order in the Philippines decided in May 1911 to construct a vacation house on top of what was later called the Dominican Hill. It was a 17-hectare property the Dominicans acquired from the previous American owners. Construction work was believed to have started in 1913 under Fr. Roque Ruano and the building was inaugurated about two years later on May 23, 1915. To take advantage of tax exemptions, a school called Collegio del Santissimo Rosario was opened in June 1915 but due to the very small enrollment, the school closed two years later and the building was reverted back to the original plan of setting up a vacation house. During the 2nd World War, Dominican Hill was occupied by refugees fleeing from the Japanese Army Liberation Forces. Later the Japanese forces bombed the refugees out which resulted in extensive damages to the main structure and the surrounding area. Reconstruction work started in 1947 and was completed in about a year.

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Diplomat Hotels, Inc. acquired ownership of the property in 1973 and remodeled thoroughly the interior into a 33-bedroom hotel but still retaining the unique and distinct personality which was earlier established by the Dominican friars. Even the large white cross on top of the building was retained. The hotel was managed by Tony Agpaoa, a Baguio-based entrepreneur and faith healer whose guests were mostly his patients from Europe. Diplomat Hotel ceased operations with the death of Agpaoa of a heart attack in 1987 and has since been closed to the public.

Dominican Hill has since been declared off limits to visitors. Local residents say that Dominican Hill is now a haunted place. The building is falling apart and is in a very dilapidated state. The railings and the guard house are about to collapse. The grounds have not been maintained that tall grass and weeds are all over the place. Some people who live nearby claim that at times they could hear the banging of doors, windows, clattering of dishes, and voices of people screaming in the middle of the night. There are also instances when the place is so quiet that not a single sound is heard the whole night. Perhaps this eerie phenomena could be attributed to the ghosts of its former owner and the different terminal patients who came to the place for hopes of being healed and have since already died. Some also say that Dominican Hill is haunted by the ghost of the people who were killed there during the war.

Some years back there was a plan to install a cable car system linking Dominican Hill and Burnham Park - one which would be similar to those found in ski resorts in the United States and Europe. It was perhaps due to the lack of investor funds necessary to put up the project that this plan did not materialize. Recently, it has been rumored that there are plans to develop this historical religious landmark into a tourist resort. However, all these are just rumors and nothing definite has as yet been mentioned.

matapat@yahoo.com


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