HomeThe Journal of Historyvol. 62 no. 1 (2016)

Exploring Interethnic Relations in a Time of War: The Case of Baguio

Maria Nela B. Florendo



Baguio, the mountain resort that paralleled the British hill station in Shimla, India was a centerpiece of American administration on the eve of the War. By 1941 the rolling terrain of Baguio had the amenities of a tropical sanctuary. But the Second World War scarred the space. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, the inaccurate Japanese intelligence report that American pilots defending the Luzon airfields were vacationing in Camp John Hay, made Baguio one of the early targets of attacks. It was not expected, for it seemed like an ordinary day. When the twin-engine bombers were seen on the air, and explosions were heard, the residents cheered. They realized much later that the bombs were from enemy lines (Halsema 1987, 164). Baguio was a multi-ethnic space by then (Brett 1990). It was in Baguio where the lowland population and the indigenous peoples of the Cordillera interacted. The city was also host to several foreign ethnic groups, among them the Japanese, the Chinese, and the Americans, who significantly played important roles in the development of the city. It is this aspect of interethnic relations in a time of war which this paper explores. How did war impact on the various ethnic groups and interethnic relations?