LANDMARKS & SITES
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Phil Military Academy
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Maryknoll Eco. Sanctuary
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Nearby Sites & Landmarks
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.
( Click on any of the "thumbnail images" below to view the photograph in a larger size format. )
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.
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