One of the reasons why Filipinos accepted the American colonizers without an equal protest to that they put up for the earlier colonizers is that the Americans put much emphasis on education. One of the sites that could attest to this is the establishment of the Teachers Camp in Baguio City.
For the past century, the camp served as a training center and venue for teachers to come together to attend special education courses. Teachers from all over the Philippines gather during the summer vacation to attend the prestigious training. The pine tree-filled camp has its own classrooms, cottages, dormitories, a dining area, administrative offices and assembly halls where conferences, seminars and other activities are often held. The camp also boasts of its athletic oval where members of the Philippine Olympic teams train. The athletic oval is open for public use with a minimal fee.
In 1907, then-Benguet Governor William F. Pack started the idea to put up a vacation camp for teachers in Baguio City. He then wrote to W. Morgan Shuster who was the American Colonial Government’s Secretary of Public Instruction. Mr. Shuster responded quite enthusiastically to the idea. The proposal was approved a month later and the Teachers Camp was opened within three months of its approval.
American school teachers, school superintendants, and Bureau of Education officials slept in tents pitched under pine trees that summer of its opening. Two large tents with wooden floors served as the assembly hall while two other tents served as its kitchen and dining area.
By 1908, a Swiss-designed dining hall called “Kursaal” was built, and also became a social center. In the next four years, construction of more buildings and structures as well as the athletic field sprung up. In the next few years, appropriation of funds leading to the building of even more permanent structures, roads and pathways were granted.
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By 1912, the Benitez Hall, which is the camp’s largest facility, along with several cottages were built around the camp premises.
The Philippine Military Academy temporarily used a significant portion of the camp in 1937. The PMA had to move from its original located from the Camp Henry T. Allen to accommodate more cadet trainees. The Academy re-established its former camp after World War II where it subsequently moved to its permanent location as of today at the Fort Gregorio del Pillar.
In April of 2008, a century after it opened, the Teachers Camp was declared a National Heritage site. Halls, buildings and cottages were refurbished on the occasion of its Centennial with the improvement of roads, pathways and newly-built rotundas. There are said to be plans for the construction of an amphitheater inside the camp along with the establishment of a museum that contains 100 years of rare photos and memorabilia.
The camp is located in beautiful, spacious and campus-like surroundings very close to the city center. Its main entrance is along Leonard Wood with another entrance located on the South Drive. Those who would want to experience a rather historical part of the city of Baguio should definitely not miss the Teachers Camp.