Prior to Baguio's early development, it was a place
of pasture and grazing land first inhabited by mountain tribes Igorotes
called Ibalois and Kankanais.
Although, little can be said of prehispanic Baguio, it must be
noted that the Igorotes had developed their own set of customs and
beliefs, and a common, systematic trade system called barter before
the westerners arrived.
Because of Benguet potentials for gold source, the Spanish government
through Commandante Galvey established the Commandancias Politico
Militar to rule the natives. Benguet was then divided into 31 rancherias.
Baguio was then one of the rancherias composed of 21 scattered houses.
Don Q..M. Quirante was assigned by Galvey to explore Benguet's
gold mines. As a result, mining activities started in Antamok, Itogon
and Suyoc areas. The introduction of Christianity and new techniques
in coffee and cattle raising is credited to the Spaniards.
Before the close of 1800's, Antonio Bejar (Juan Carino) was made
the first Governor of Benguet. However, his reign did not last long
when in the early 1900's, the Americans came.
Shortly after the defeat of the Spanish Navy in the battle of Manila
Bay, Captain Rudd came to Baguio to set up the first civil government
ever established in the Philippines under the governorship of H.P.
Whitmarsh. From a military, a township form of government was adopted
in November 1900 by virtue of Act No. 48 and Act No. 1397. In escaping
the lowland heat, the Americans found Baguio a perfect place to
rest and recuperate with a climate similar with that of the United
In 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt appointed Cameron Forbes
to develop Baguio. Architect Daniel H. Burnham made a plan for an
expected population of 25,000 people. This followed the Philippine
Commission's declaration to make the town of Baguio in the Province
of Benguet, as the "summer capital of the archipelago".
Gov. Forbes also encouraged the development of Baguio as an Administrative
Center. Reservations were given to various national government offices.
This was followed by the building of the Kennon and Naguilian Roads.
In 1906, William Haube build Session Road, so named because members
of the Commission passed through it on their way to the session
On September 1, 1909, the Charter of City of Baguio authored by
Gov. George A. Malcolm was promulgated pursuant to Act. No. 1963.
Mining went on high gear production. American prospectors came and
worked in the mines until full operations were reached. As Baguio
was fast gaining grounds as a commercial center, the public market
was opened. Various commercial enterprises were established along
Session Road, Harrison Road and Trinidad Road (now Magsaysay Road.
From 1909 to 1957, the mayors of the city were all appointed. Americans
were appointed mayors from 1909 to 1937, subsequently, a Filipino
Engineer took over the reigns of government. Baguio had its first
local elections in 1957. the mayor-council government set-up became
elective since then.