Filipinos should claim back Camp John Hay
My family and I went up to Baguio last January and visited Camp John Hay, the former American base for recreation in the Cordillera mountains, where most of its pine trees have been preserved. And we saw its degradation— like the deterioration of its roads in the past years, including the one that leads to Scout Hill.
The “redevelopment” of the 247 hectares of land inside Camp John Hay by Fil-Estate’s Camp John Hay Development Corp. (CJH DevCor) can be best—or worst—described as elitist and anti-Filipino. Places that visitors and residents of Baguio used to go to when in Baguio are now off-limits to the public. Worse, some of them have been left to deteriorate. Others, like Scout Hill where old cottages built by Americans stood, have given way to high-end luxury cottages made of imported pine wood.
An elevated area which opened a vista of the Cordillera mountains and the Officers Main Club of the US Armed Forces and the 19th Tee Bar (where one could buy meals and refreshments) across from it, a one-of-a-kind prime location, is now long gone. My family and I loved this place not only because of the food they served and the view of the golf course it provided, but also because of the lovely 1-kilometer promenade we could walk on.
It is now occupied by the luxurious Manor hotel and the Forest Lodge of the Fil-Estate company. CJH DevCor cannot entirely be blamed for the pathetic, elitist and anti-Filipino redevelopment because government allowed them to do so.
Today, the only way Filipinos can enjoy a stroll around the same area is either by booking at the ritzy Manor hotel or by eating at the high-end, fine-dining restaurant.
In our visit last June, portions of the landscaped park of the Manor had been left to overgrown grass and plants and were awfully muddy. When we went back there in January, the park was no different.
It is most unfortunate that a favorite place of Filipinos has been turned into a parking lot for hotel guests. This is such a grave injustice to us, Filipinos, who have been long oppressed by our government through sheer greed, neglect and/or incompetence!
But the wrong that has been done can still be corrected.
The parking lot of Forest Lodge and the contiguous area at the back of the Manor hotel, can be integrated into one park open to the public. What I am suggesting is to have this place returned to the Filipino people for them and foreigners alike to enjoy. This can be done without adversely affecting the operations of the two luxury hotels.
While the redevelopment is being undertaken, the promenade should be connected once again to the old road leading up to Scout Hill, which should have recreational facilities (there were the mini-golf and skating-rink before) and food stalls and a restaurant across, as it did before.
The redevelopment of Camp John Hay should be in the direction suggested above and is an apt agenda for the next administration that will assume office less than five months from now. The present administration is already a hopeless case.
It is time that majority of our countrymen enjoyed Camp John Hay again when they go up to Baguio.
—R. B. RAMOS, [email protected]
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