Towards a sense of place and history-A A +A
By Ramon Dacawi
Saturday, September 1, 2012
WHEN asked by visitors, some Baguio residents can’t tell how the city’s short, inclined main street got its name.
That’s why sixth and fifth graders of Rizal and San Vicente elementary schools sought the answer through the “Baguio Kids Urban Heritage Walk” as the city was priming up for its 103rd charter anniversary on the theme “Fostering a Sense of History, Community and Continuity”.
An offshoot of the Eco-walk environmental awareness program, the walk through the urban landscape was informally launched by the city in 2006, precisely to address the need for Baguio’s children to learn about local heritage and history – including why Session Road is so named like it’s where the city council holds its Monday sessions.
Benguet Corp., once the world’s biggest producer of gold and a backbone to the city’s economy during its formative years, sponsored one particular walk last July. Former mayor Edna Tabanda of La Trinidad, Benguet, now private sector representative of the Regional Development Council, tapped the firm to support the walk and an art workshop for the kids at the Busol Watershed as sidebars to the celebration of Cordillera Month.
Back in class, Alecks Luis St. Jacobe of the Rizal Elementary School said he learned Session Road’s name is linked to the eight rock figures that replaced a cement version of a pine tree on the rotunda at the upper end of the inclined strip.
“We’ve gone to see the 8 key rocks of Baguio,” Alecks noted “And there we saw that that’s why it’s called Session Road because it was where the 8 commissioners walked.”
The eight rock figures, installed by Igorot stone sculptor Gilbert Gano, represent the eight members of the Philippine Commission who used to hold their summer sessions in Baguio during the early 1900s.
In the summer of 1904, members of the Philippine Commission, the forerunner of the Philippine Commission, passed through the future main street on their way to their session at what is now the Baden Powell Hall fronting the bus terminal along Gov. Pack Road.
That’s how the main street got its name.
“The (ir) names were very hard to pronounce,” complained Febei Lauryz Jacobe. “We walked and saw a (marker) in front (of the Baden Powell Hall).”
Installed in 1940 by the Philippine Historical Institute, the marker was moved from its original placement by the management of the hotel that took over the Baden Powell Hall, named after the founder of the Boy Scouts and formerly used as headquarters of the local Boy Scout Council.
The inscription read:
“This is the site of the building where the Philippine Commission held its first session in Baguio from April 22 to June, 1904, inclusive, officially initiating use of Baguio as the Philippines’ Summer Capital. The Commission was composed of Governor General Luke B. Wright, President, and Commissioners Henry C. Ide, Dean C. Worcester, T. H. Pardo de Tavera, Benito Legarda, Jose R. de L:uzurriaga, James F. Smith and Cameron Forbes.”
“In this session, 74 acts and 272 resolutions were approved.”
Led by volunteers, the kids moved down the main street, turned right at where Alhamar-Chainus, one of the city’s first movie houses, opened in the early 1930s, and named in honor of
“(A volunteer) opened a gate (and) we saw a long wall showing all the Filipino soldiers’ names,” Febei wrote.”I counted 854 (names on the wall of the Veterans Park featuring the members of the famed 66th Infantry that, together with the American forces, liberated Baguio on April 27, 1945).”
The kids ended at the Burnham Park with a quiz bee on facts about Baguio they learned along their route. They went home with an umbrella each, courtesy of Benguet Corp.
The following Sunday, the kids from Rizal and San Vicente elementary schools repaired to the Busol watershed for a basic art workshop, again sponsored by Benguet Corp. and handled by multi-media Baguio artist Art Tibaldo and his daughter Tim-Tam.
“Mr. Tibaldo told us that when we are sketching a human face, always remember that the eyes are symmetrical to the face,” recalled Febei.
In an earlier excursion into the watershed, the kids started out at the Baguio Fire Station where Inspector John Ullibac got them and their teachers into sliding down the fireman’s pole.
“At first I was so afraid but when it was my turn, I had to (slide down the pole) because some were waiting for their turn,” admitted Marie Adeline Cancio.
Arriving at the watershed aboard a big medical truck, the kids visited the pine poles planted 20 years ago by pupils of Rizal when the Eco-walk environmental program was launched.
“It was my first time to try my ability (at) rappelling,” said sixth-grader Realyn Rabago. “I was amazed because it was my first time to see a big pine cone. And there was a contest for the longest pine needle and the biggest pine cone, although San Vicente Elementary School won.”
“The people there,” Ashtin Banglot wrote, referring to the volunteers, “were kind and generous. They taught us many things and let us plant a pine tree.”
As part of the city’s 103rd founding anniversary this month, mayor Mauricio Domogan will lead in the forging of a memorandum of agreement to make the “Urban Walk” an institutional partnership program of the city, the city schools, the police and fire stations and other volunteers.
In so doing, they will ensure that other kids will learn how Session Road got its name, in keeping with the Baguio Day theme: “Fostering a Sense of History, Community and Continuity”.
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Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on September 01, 2012.