In the late 19th century, during the Meiji period, there was a large diaspora of Japanese people, who, due to the Meiji land taxation were forced into extreme poverty and “often spent their last penny” in order to find a place, in hope for a better future. Because of this, many Japanese people fled to South America and other countries throughout Asia, one of which was the Philippines.
With the information that is available, some 300 well-preserved photographs, oral histories and biographies, one is able to piece together the various contributions that the Japanese made to Baguio. One of the most famous and monumental contributions was the construction of the famous Benguet road, now known as Kennon road. The American government “employed over a thousand Japanese men”. The Japanese worked hand-in-hand with the Americans, in particular Daniel H. Burnham, as well as Filipinos, to make Baguio more accessible to the public. Kennon road inevitably transformed Baguio, it opened up opportunities for trade and tourism, which led to it becoming the second chartered city of the Philippines.
Today, only a few descendants of the pre-war Japanese settlers remain, most of whom make up generations of Japanese Filipino families. Despite the tragic past, these few Japanese-Filipino families have developed strong bonds over the years and in effect have been able to carry on their Japanese culture and heritage, which, has preserved what is left of their contribution to the history and development of Baguio City.
Produced by: Nestor Abrogena and Raymond Dacones
Directed by: Raymond Dacones
Raymond Dacones ©