Let's Go to Baguio (Part 11): Our Family Tour Finale in Botanical Garden

Our Baguio Tour Finale in Botanical Garden

We ended our two-day family tour of Baguio City by visiting the greenest and most forested park of the city. This park is none other than the Botanical Garden.

We went to Botanical Garden after our visit to Wright Park and the Mansion House. Going to the garden is easy since we just rode a jeepney to Botanical Garden from Wright park. We only paid the minimum fare.

We were welcomed by these old ladies in their traditional garb.

Baguio Botanical Garden with lola Igorotas

Taking any photo with these lolas has a fee. So, I did not take any selfie with them but just contented myself in taking their photo discreetly.

Other visitors had their selfies taken with the lolas. And the background of the photo is the “Botanical Garden” sign that showcases the various rituals of the Igorot people.

There's no entrance fee in Baguio Botanical Garden. 

Schedule of Baguio Botanical Garden

Baguio Botanical Garden is open daily from 6 AM until 6 PM only.

The Garden of Many Names

Burnham Plan of Baguio City
Burnham Plan of Baguio as redrawn in the Baguio City Comprehensive Land Use Plan. The big green space at right is the Botanical Garden. The other big green space in the map is the Burnham Park.

The Baguio Botanical Garden was originally envisioned by Daniel Burnham and was included in the original plan of Baguio City. The patch of greens was named as Botanical Garden during the American Period. Since then, the garden had numerous name changes throughout its history.

In the 1970s, the park was called Baguio City Zoological and Botanical Garden because it hosted animals during that period.

During the reign of the president-dictator Ferdinand Marcos, the park was renamed as Imelda Park after his wife and first lady Imelda Marcos. After martial law, the park’s name reverted to Botanical Garden. The garden was again renamed as Centennial Park in 2009 as part of the Baguio City's celebration of its centenary.

Some visitors and residents of Baguio also refer to the Botanical Garden as Igorot Village because of the many huts inside the park.

Our Baguio Botanical Garden Experience

Upon entering Botanical Garden, we were welcomed by the scene of big bronze statues of men working together. This artwork harks back to the creation of Baguio as the garden city of the Cordilleras.

The Builders by Ben-Hur Villanueva in Baguio Botanical Garden

The statue was created by Filipino master sculptor Ben-Hur Villanueva and aptly named as “The Builders”. The artwork serves as a remembrance for the early settlers who worked together to build Baguio City. The five statues represent the Igorots, the lowlanders, the Americans, the Japanese, and the Chinese.

Looking down the pond in Baguio Botanical Garden

Our Little Ones, just like what they did in other Baguio's public parks, ran round and round in the Botanical Garden. They were amazed by the greens that surrounded them.

My wife, on the other hand, was amazed of this green tunnel:

Green arch in Baguio Botanical Garden

This is a perfect spot for selfies. 

As part of the city's centenary celebration, the city government of Baguio requested its sister cities to sponsor various sceneries inside the park. The result are various spots in Botanical Park that came from around the world, like this replica of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Golden Gate Bridge in Baguio Botanical Garden

I guess this replica was sponsored by Long Beach (California), which is one of Baguio's sister city in the USA. 

There are other scenes that our children liked in Botanical Garden, such as these swans.

Swans in Baguio Botanical Garden

This is a perfect photo spot for couples.

Our favorite scene in Botanical Garden is the life-size statue of a family of elephants. 

Elephant family in Baguio Botanical Garden

The elephant statues are so realistic that my daughter Samantha was so afraid to go near it. 

Almost real elephant in Baguio Botanical Garden

The elephant statues were erected in 2017 to commemorate the 70 years of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Thailand. The landmark was realized through the collaboration between Royal Thai Embassy, City Government of Baguio, Philippine-Thai Cultural Organization, and Siam Cement Group.

Siam Cement Group elephant in Baguio Botanical Garden

The Thai government commissioned three Thai artists: Somphong Boonthip, Prasan Prasatketkam and Nitithivat Khantharankha; to create the elephant statues.

Thai elephant in Baguio Botanical Garden

The elephant statues is the highlight of our visit to Botanical Garden. We allowed our children some time to marvel at this landmark. It gave them a feeling that they are touching real elephants.

Elephant in Baguio Botanical Garden

Near the entrance to Baguio Botanical Garden are shops that sell souvenirs, food, and plants. We had a quick look around the place but My Beloved Wife did not buy any. She already got some plants from a shop at Baguio Cathedral.

Souvenirs for Sale in Baguio Botanical Garden

We visited four public parks during our two-day sojourn around Baguio City. I can say that Baguio Botanical Garden is the second best Baguio public park. The top 1, of course, is Burnham Park. The top 3 is Wright Park. The worst is Mines View Park, which is jokingly called "No Mines,  No View" Park.

If you are planning your tour around Baguio, I highly recommend that you include Botanical Garden in your itinerary.

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Baguio City Land Use Plan by Baguio City Government
Ben-Hur’s Profile in Arko ni Apo

Let's Go to Baguio (Part 10): The Mansion House - City of Pines' Most Historical House

The Mansion House of Baguio City

Dan Brown, in one of his books, described Manila as the gates of hell. The early Americans of early 1900s would agree with this description not because of the city's now abject poverty and high crime rate but because of the unbearable humid heat.

The intense heat in Manila motivated the American invaders to look for a place that can be their new colony’s capital during the summer months. The Americans selected Baguio due to its relatively cool temperature and the presence of an already organized town.

The gate of the Mansion House of Baguio City
The gate of the Mansion House.

William Howard Taft, the first American civil governor of the Philippines, capital of the Philippines, commissioned Daniel Burnham to prepare the plans for Baguio. Part of the plan is the construction of the house for the American governor general. That house is the Mansion House.

The Mansion House of Baguio City

The Mansion House is our next destination after having a relaxing stroll among the pines of Wright Park.

The house is just across the road from the reflecting pool of Wright Park. But before we cross the street, I got curious with the strawberry-flavored taho being sold outside Wright Park.

Strawberry taho of Baguio City
The sweet but not strawberry-licious "strawberry taho" of Baguio.

We were disappointed with the taho. There was not even a hint of strawberry. Maybe I should've opted for the regular taho. Actually, the strawberry ice cream that we bought in Burnham Park is a better strawberry treat than this taho.

Intricate gate of the Mansion House in Baguio

The gate of the Mansion House is big and majestic. Of course, there were so many tourists that it was difficult to have a decent selfie at the gate.

Historical marker of the Mansion House in Baguio

The Mansion House was designed by Architect William E. Parsons in accordance to the City Beautiful Movement, which is the architectural philosophy pioneered by Daniel Burnham. Parson used indigenous materials and local architectural style, thus, the Mansion House originally appeared as a "bahay na bato", which was a usual house of affluent families during the Spanish Period.

The original look of Baguio's Mansion House as bahay na bato
The original Mansion House of Baguio. Notice the wooden second floor, which made the house look like a "bahay na bato". (Source: Presidential Museum and Library

The first floor is made of stone while the second floor is made of wood. Governor General Francis Burton Harrison noted that the rooms were partitioned by sawali walls.

Parson's original design did not last because subsequent governor generals renovated and enlarged the Mansion House. The house was later on damaged during the Second World War.

Photo of Mansion House taken at the reflecting pool of Wright Park
Old photo of the Mansion House taken from the reflecting pool of Wright Park. (Source: Presidential Museum and Library)

From being the official residence the American governor generals, the Mansion House became the official residence of Philippine presidents. Although, presidents do not stay long in this house. Most only visited the house when they attend the graduation ceremony of the cadets in the Philippine Military Academy.

The president who stayed the longest in the Mansion House is President Jose P. Laurel. Who described his three-month stay as somber and miserable.

Laurel and his ministers were moved to Baguio by the Japanese army when Manila fell to the Americans. They felt that they are in a concentration camp. They were heavily guarded by Japanese soldiers and almost have no food nor clean water to drink. They also had to contend with constant bombing.

The Mansion House of Baguio City

There is no entrance fee to the grounds of the Mansion House. Tourists, however, were only allowed in the vicinity of the entrance gate. I believe that tourists will not be allowed to go beyond the gate when the president is in the house. We were lucky then because President Duterte was not in Baguio during our visit.

Tourists at The Mansion House of Baguio City

No one can go up to the Mansion House because the soldiers guarding the house will prevent anyone from doing so. We discovered this when our son Samuel ran toward the restricted area. A soldier accosted us immediately.