CAMP JOHN HAY: PERSISTENCE THROUGH TIME

Camp John Hay, Baguio City, July 21, 2003  (BULLETIN) By Lynda B. Valencia STAR (PNA) – Cool climate (averages 19 degrees Celsius all year round although the temperature varies from a high of 25 degrees Celsius during the summer months to a low of 12.9 degrees Celsius during cold months) and land lush pine trees are but a few of the things that set Camp John Hay (CJH) apart from other tourist destinations in the country.

As it launched its centennial celebration (1903-2003), more developments for this former US military rest and recreation facility have been programmed.

Guests during the launching held at the CAP-John Hay Trade and Cultural Center were Richard K. Pruett, First Secretary, Embassy of the United States of America; Florencio F. Padernal, chairman, Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) and president, John Hay Development Corporation; James Marsh Thomson, director, Camp John Hay Development Corporation (CJH DevCo); Atty. Damaso Bangaoet, vice president of CJH DevCo; Freddie Alquiroz, COO, CJH DevCo; Gillian Cortez, VP for marketing and public affairs and local officials.

Thomson said the celebration initiates “a period of commemoration of this beautiful place and its significance after providing 100 years of rest, relaxation, rejuvenation, invigoration and inspiration to the people of the Philippines and primarily for many years for the members of the American military stationed in the country and elsewhere in Asia.”

Thomson said the actual CJH’s official 100th birthday is Oct. 13 this year but “we took due note of the observance of Fil-American Friendship Day, so we have three whole months to celebrate.”

“This is indeed a signal moment in time in pleasant revelry of what has gone before, as well as in contemplating the exciting expanding contribution of CJH is expected increasingly to make to the prosperity and development of the Philippines,” said Thomson.

Pruett, on the other hand, said “Americans and Filipinos make a good team. I see it in the military to military relations, government to government relations. I see Filipinos making good contributors to health-giving and they have special way of supplementing each other.”

He added, “My simple regret is that I did not come soon. If I married a Filipina, I would have stayed for long.” He first came in Manila on Sept. 28, 1989. He stayed for two years.

The historical landmark in Baguio City rests atop 246 hectares of what is Baguio’s most beautiful tract of prime land. It abounds with lush gardens adorned with lovely flowers and charming picnic spots as well as a number of indoor and outdoor recreational facilities.

Standing on the side of the old Main Club, where people used to enjoy bingo nights, dancing, roast beef and burgundy, the Camp John Hay Manor offers more than memorable evenings.

The Manor, the first condotel constructed as part of the Master Development Plan, offers the chance for longer vacations in the comfort of cozy one-and-two bedrooms or studio type units with verandahs.

Maintaining the architectural shape of the old Main Club, every angle of the Manor is a window to nature’s meditative charm, breathtaking view of forests, the Cordillera mountain range and air that’s fresh and clean.

The Manor is a four-storey condotel housing 180 units, composed of 102 studio with double beds, 24 studio with king size beds, 42 one-bedroom suites, and 12 two-bedroom suites.

Dining al fresco is enhanced by the historical Friendship Garden where statues of President Manuel L. Quezon and US President Abraham Lincoln can be found. The Manor had no less than Recio & Casas for their architectural expertise and interior design by Steven Leach & Associates.

The CAP-John Hay Trade and Cultural Center where the launching was held, stands at the future commercial and entertainment center. The Main Hall seats 1,500 guests and the balcony provides for additional 1,000 tiered seats.

The 405 square meter stage features a 12x16 feet movie screen, a state-of-the-art sound and video equipment, movable partitions and a centralized airconditioning unit.

Just four months after the start of its construction, signaled by a Time Capsule Laying ceremony, work on the CJH Suites has been fast. By the end of the year, the 19th Tee Restaurant, which incidentally is being revived to re-establish a lot of good memories in the past, shall be completed.

Similar to the Manor, with a 100 additional units to its crown, the Suites will also offer the modern conveniences of a world-class hotel. Further amenities will include a music lounge with a cozy piano bar, fine dining restaurants, a fully-equipped fitness center, expert novelty shops and more.

The CJH Suites is expected to boost the city’s thrust as a convention destination owing the site’s conducive and refreshingly cool and breezy climate coupled with the fresh scent of a preserved lush pine forest that’s distinctly CJH.

Benigno Cabrieto, COO of the CHJ DevCo, said the 287-unit Suites will rise on the former site of the famed 19th Tee, which affords a splendid view of the Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course and the majestic Cordillera range.

Also designed by Casas & Recio Architects, the Suites blends colonial American and Cordillera influences, creating a look that is warm and elegant. It is a four-storey structure that consists of a studio-type, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom units.

Investing in the Suites proves wise based on its easy payment plans that offer down payment plans for as low as 20 percent with the remaining balance payable up to three years at zero percent interest.

Manor unit owners have in fact, started to reap the fruits of their investment through large net income shares accredited to hotel operations and generated by high occupancy levels.

Beyond the thick forest growth stands a perfect respite from the busy world – the Country Homes, the Country Log Homes, Log Homes, Corporate Lodges/Villas, and the Family Units.

The general features of the Country Log Homes include living and dining with a view deck, fireplace in the dining room and master’s bedroom, two bedrooms and maid’s quarters. Cedar logs used to clad exterior are imported from Canada.

The master planner of all these residential homes is American Robert Lamb Hart, while architectural work is done by RR Payumo & Associates.

Situated exactly one mile above sea level, the Mile-Hi or Ponoc Hall as it was originally called, is remembered for indoor recreation, burgers, pizzas and fries. Today, it has given to a golf clubhouse with a veranda open to a scenic view of the CJH championship golf course.

The 18-hole CJH Golf Course continues to be home to the prestigious Fil-Am Golf Tournament, the world’s largest amateur golf tournament with over 800 participants from the Philippines, US and the Pacific. It has been upgraded to a par 69 championship golf course by Golden Bear International.

Guests continue to lease the old cottages that used to be the homes of American servicemen and their families. Although most cottages still stand, some have given way to forest cabins.

Once the administrative center of the camp, the Post Headquarters building still stands, featuring various shops and restaurants including a duty-free store.

Scout Hill served as the home and training grounds of the Philippine scouts. In 1918, their barracks were built in the area. During the Japanese occupation, it was a concentration camp for American nationals and their allies. Now, it has been the home of many of the outdoor sports and recreational facilities.

The Igorot lodge was originally a 24-bed hospital, which was later enlarged to accommodate 50 beds. Today, it is leased to the Asian Institute of Management (AIM).

From a place of prayer and contemplation, Mountain Breeze became the venue for more mundane pursuits. The chapel was later used as a movie theater when Sunday services were held elsewhere on Scout Hills.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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