Teachers Camp Celebrates 100 Years
One of the reasons Filipinos accepted American colonial rule without as much protest as that mounted against their former colonial master, Spain, was because the Americans place such a premium on education. And the best evidence of this is the establishment of Teachers' Camp in Baguio City, the Summer Capital of the Philippines.
Teachers Camp is located in a beautiful, spacious, campus-like environment close to the city center, with its main entrance along Leonard Wood Road with another entrance on posh South Drive.
Teachers' Camp has, for the past 100 years, served as a training center and venue for teachers from all over the Philippines who come during the summer break to attend special courses in education.
Within the pine-filled camp are classrooms, cottages and dormitories, mess halls and dining areas, administrative offices, plus assembly halls and social centers where many conferences, seminars and other activities are held.
Teachers Camp also boasts of its own athletic oval where members of the Philippine Olympic teams train. The athletic oval is also open for the use of the general public (a small fee is charged for its upkeep)
History & General Information
In December 1907, Benguet Governor William F. Pack conceived of the idea of putting a vacation camp for teachers in Baguio City. He then wrote to the American Colonial Government's Secretary of Public Instruction W. Morgan Shuster who responded quite enthusiastically. The plan to create Teachers Camp for this purpose was approved a month later, in January 1908.
In April of that same year, just three months later, Teachers' Camp opened in what was soon to be officially designated as the Summer Capital of the Philippines, with the Baguio Teachers' Assembly as its first activity.
Participants came from all over the Philippines: American school teachers, school superintendents, other teachers and even Bureau of Education officials, who all slept in tents pitched under pine trees. Two larger tents that had wooden floors served as the assembly area while two other large tents each served as a kitchen and a mess or dining area.
In 1908, a Swiss-design dining area called "Kursaal," was built. It became a social center. The next four years years saw the construction of more buildings and an athletic field. In 1912, Benitez Hall, Teachers Camp's largest facility was built along with cottages for the officials of the Bureau of Education and the camp director.
The next few years saw the appropriation of funds to build permanent structures on the property as well as roads and pathways that wind all around its sloping terrain to connect the same. The earliest built were a Swiss-inspired mess hall and social center called "Kursaal," which was named after a building of similar design in Switzerland. In 1912, cottages for the officials of the Bureau of Education and one for the camp director were constructed. Eventually there were more appropriations for more assembly areas resulting in Benitez Hall, Ladies Hall, White Hall, Tavera Hall and Teachers Hall.
In 1937 The Philippine Military Academy (PMA) occupied a large portion of Teachers' Camp moving from its location at Camp Henry T. Allen to accommodate more cadet trainees. It was during that time that General Luna Hall was built (1937). After the war, PMA was re-established at its former location at Camp Henry T. Allen before it moved to its permanent location at Fort Gregorio del Pilar.
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Teachers' Camp Today
In April 2008, 100 years after it opened, Teachers' Camp was declared a National Heritage site.
And on the occasion of its Centennial, the halls, buildings and cottages were refurbished, its roads and pathways improved with new rotundas (roundabouts) were constructed. The master plan also called for the construction of an amphitheater and a museum that contains 100 years of rare photos and other memorabilia.
How to Get to Teachers Camp
By car -- Head for Leonard Wood Road (that main road that connects Session Road to Wright Park which is the road one also takes to get to Mines View Park. The main entrance to Teachers Camp is to your right. See Map.
By taxi cab -- just tell the driver take you to Teachers Camp. All cabbies know where this visitor attraction is located.
By jeepney -- any jeepney that goes to Pacdal, Mines View, Beckel, Navy Base, will pass Leonard Wood Road. Just ask the driver to let you off at the entrance and explore the grounds on foot.