LEONARD WOOD-GIBRALTAR-NORTH DRIVE

Perhaps the greenest and the most wooded part of the City other than inside Camp John Hay is this part of Baguio. Starting at the Post Office Loop atop Session Road, the winding road stretches south of the City amidst a row of properly maintained residential compounds. The first structure one notices at the left is the old Bonifacio Elementary School building that services the community of Jungle Town just behind it.

At the right side of the road is the Leonard Wood side of a new structure, Hagdanan Sa Baguio, which now houses the national food chain, Kalde-Kaldero, Kawa-Kawali. the home of the now famous singing cooks and waiters. I had the chance to bring my family to this restaurant in Quezon City prior to our departure. That was their last taste of authentic Filipino cuisine in the country, in a typically Filipino restaurant served with the accompaniment of the singing cooks and waiters. Their branch in Baguio is just beside the oldest hotel now standing in the City, the old Vallejo Hotel.

Go down a little further at the curve and you will reach the new BIR Building, which houses their regional office. The BIR used to be housed at UB's commercial building along Gen. Luna Road. Apparently this building was also affected during the 1990 earthquake but not as bad as its neighboring FRB building which totally collapsed. It then transferred to Magsaysay Avenue at the Agrix Building before they finally completed this one. Next to it is the NBI Regional office building.

Following this office complex at your right will be the Court of Appeals vacation cottages. This is just one of the many national government owned properties that comprise most lands in the City. Right opposite it is Engineers' Hill and Cabinet Hill beside it. This place is where cottages of cabinet secretaries of the government remain mostly vacant for the whole year except when they are used for vacation. There had been plans to develop Cabinet Hill, as a Sports Complex where Filipino athletes competing internationally will train.

At the junction where Brent Road, Leonard Wood Road and Gen. Luna Road meet, lies the Corfu Village which houses Matsukaze (Macho Kasi) a Japanese Restaurant which serves dilis for appetizer and excellent Japanese cuisine. I just love to eat sashimi dipped in Kikkoman soy sauce with wasabe. A disco and a Karaoke Pub house are also in the area. Beside the Corfu building is Teresita's Souvenir Shop and a building owned by the Marcelos who also deal in handicraft exports. There was a contemplated development as a residential condominium on that strip of land right at the corner where Leonard Wood starts to descend.

Go straight towards Brent Road and you will reach the Pink Sisters' Convent (Convent of the Blessed Sacrament) and further up will be the Brent School Campus. But as you go down the road, you will notice old cottages at your right and new plush houses on your left most likely a vacation hideaway. Then the start of the sprawling Teachers' Camp extends all the way to the concrete bridge that passes over lower Brookside below. But notable establishments fronting Teacher's Camp as you go down at your right are the shops of Munsayac and the Baguio Mountain Lodge.

As you cross the concrete bridge the road meanders upwards to a wooded area. The right side of the road is a span of land that has been beautifully landscaped as a park. This is the botanical garden. It used to be the Baguio Zoo. Later they converted the zoo into a garden where people can have picnics while admiring the architecture of houses and dap-ays original to the cordillera mountain range. You will notice that the design of the structures is authentic dwelling places of people leaving in the five cordillera provinces. You will even notice an old man, at times there are two of them in their full regalia (loincloth, headdress, shield and spear) welcoming visitors entering the garden.

Opposite the acreage of the botanical garden are still rows of private dwellings with large lawns well manicured awaiting the owner's arrival during summer. Safari Lodge is located in this vicinity. Behind this row of well-maintained houses is the former St. Theresa's College. The nuns put this up for sale and are now functioning as kids' school and conference venue for out of town training and seminar-workshops. Directly above it is the Navy Base Compound or Polo Field part of which has been made into subdivision.

Navy Base would still have the old conset huts that we used to leave in the first time we arrived in Baguio. But pine trees are no longer lush due to urban sprawl. St. Joseph Subdivision ate up most of the trees in that area to give way to houses. As you further up Leonard Wood Road, the road plateaus into a hub, which radiates into several extensions. The first road at the left hugging the curve of St. Joseph Parish Church is Pacdal Road.

The next extension is the gateaway to Benguet and the Mt.Provinces beyond through Ambuklao. This is Ambuklao Road. As you go around the hub, the next extension that cuts through Rizal, a public elementary school, is Gibraltar Road. The strip of land between Gibraltar and Leonard Wood Road is Wright Park with the bridle path. So called because this is where the pony boys of Baguio do their trade. Visitors would hire horses just to go around the path or to go site seeing following a trail along Baguio's watershed. The bridle path is located just below the steps of Wright Park.

Go up the steps then you will reach the row of ponds that fronts the Mansion - the President's Summer Hideaway. The right extension of Leonard Wood Road as you go around the hub is South Drive, which leads to the Baguio Country Club. You would notice the fairways of the Country Club golf course to your right. South Drive exits to Loakan Road. As you go up Gibraltar road, you'll notice a grove of trees interspersed with houses as though both are fighting for the space. A felled tree lies where it had been recently cut indicating that the tree must always give in to man. This area is Forbes Park Reservation 3 where now through some circumvention of land laws had given some people to declare it their own piece of land. This is true to other land reservations in the City, which is the challenge to those, pushing the Baguio Regreening Movement.

A cluster of townhouse condominiums aligns the right of the road. At the left side up a small hill is Good Shepherd Convent famous for the goods produced by its Shontoug Center more particularly the blueberry jam which is popular as a tourist buy. As you go further up the road, you will reach the summit with a view to mountain ranges below. This is the Mines View Park so called because of the grand view to the mining communities of Itogon in Benguet. The park has become a center of tourist trade with its own shopping center where tourists can buy goods produced in the locality i.e. woodcrafts by the Ifugao woodcarvers, strawberry preserves, filigrees, brooms and everlasting lace and loom weave igorot cloth. There is brisk trading specially during summer when thousands of lowlanders seek the cool mountain air to escape even briefly, the heat of the lowlands.

Europa Condominiums is also located in this area other than the one at Legarda Road near Burnham Park. Gibraltar Road goes around and continues on until it connects with Leonard Wood Road at the other side. This road leads to the Mansion and the plush summer houses of some rich and famous who would call Baguio home once in a while. This is the road that will also lead to the Little Flower Novitiate Convent. Leonard Wood branches out to the right hugging the mountain slope as it goes down towards Itogon and the mining communities.

P.Q.B. Janauary 9, 1999
matapat@yahoo.com


[ Close This Window To Go Back To Previous Page ]