AS I sifted through the pages of the Memoirs of Baguio and Baguio and the Mountain Provinces in the Making during the centenary celebrations, one evident reason for Baguio to celebrate its 100 years was the need for American soldiers to recover from the malaria and cholera epidemics that hit them in the tropical heat. Without this costly exercise of the Americans in repatriating their ailing soldiers to mainland U.S. the need for a convalescent center in these hills would not have lead to development here.

This is also the reason why the Baguio General Hospital is the oldest remnant of this need and it celebrates 108 years, almost seven years older than the Chartered City.

Click here for stories and updates on the Sinulog 2010 Festival.

The humble beginnings of this convalescent center or sanitarium as termed in those days were the six three-room cottages that were constructed with the amount of 10,000 pesos on March 25, 1902. The story goes on to say that the six cottages were not enough in those early years to accommodate the soldiers and American personnel who came to Baguio, so a larger facility was built, this time in its present site.

Chinese laborers were hired to construct the first cottages, 30 of them. These were the most superior buildings in Baguio in those years. The nucleus if the sanitarium was a cottage built by Otto Sheerer. When the rains set in, the work was stopped and Ilocanos were deployed to take the place of the Chinese.

At this time, the Ilocano worksmanship was considered as crude and that they would learn from the Chinese with the exposure.

It was said, "the distinction of having selected an ideal site for the hospital belongs to Dean Worcester." The fifteen-bed sanitarium was then a wooden structure built without a nail or a piece of metal. It was inaugurated as a branch of the Manila Civil Hospital on February 3, 1902.

So, this is the story of the founding of the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center. This year, it celebrates the 108 years with a luncheon fundraiser of the BGHMC Advisory Board led by lawyer Joseph Rulla.

The BGHMC Advisory Board story is different and also unique to Baguio.

In those early years, the magnet of the mining industry drew Americans to these areas as gold prospectors. The prospectors were Americans who invited other American servicemen and individuals to join the mining boom. More and more Americans and their families began to settle in the mining towns and came to the city on weekends.

Of course, they were the ones who had the money to spend and were patrons of many commercial establishments of the city. It was their need that was supplied by the businesses in the city.

In the process, many organizations were put up to improve the response of the government agencies to the needs of the community. In these organizations set up after the war, the cross-section of the sectors of society were called to help feedback the needs of the community.

Mrs. Ethel Herold was one of the dynamic wives of the Americans who sat in the first BGHMC AB, as she was also present in the Girl Scouts, Monday Afternoon Club, Red Cross, and other clubs. The advisory board told the BGH the facilities needed by the community and also raised funds for the other needs that the government could not finance.

However, a review of the Monday Afternoon Club newsletters will tell us that the American wives found a way to share their good fortune with the other groups of the community through membership dues and contributions.

So it was, the hospital has now become the hospital of the people and community, while, the advisory board continues to raise funds to assist the needy patients while it also helps bridge the communication lines between the hospital and the community. The BGHMC AB continues to respond to the health and medical needs of the hospital and the community.