Trivia about Baguio Teachers’ Camp
Education and the spread of democratic ideals had been two of the many legacies that the United States has brought to the Filipino people. The advent of the American Thomasites in August of 1901 was instrumental in the introduction of the new era of public education in the archipelago. Motivated by the highest ideals with utmost desire to assist in building a new nation in this part of the world and a thousand young American men and women, who were trained and educated in some of the best academes in the United States, established a modern public school system which undoubtedly has contributed remarkable impact on the lives of the greatest number of Filipinos.
Coined after the name of the U.S. Army Transport Thomas that carried them to the Philippines, the American Thomasites were a group of 540 American teachers and some of their family members who first came to propagate public education in the country. In 1902 though this number of American teachers was increased to a total of 1,074.
The American Thomasites were sent throughout the archipelago where they worked with zeal and passion for the progress of a nation of numerous ethnic groups, languages, religions and completely diverse cultural traditions and customary practices. Amidst floods, typhoons, tropical diseases and the lack of transportation facilities, they faced the challenges of their work and showed a pioneering spirit that has become an inspiration for many of Filipinos who have directly benefited from their mission.
Rather than providing higher education to a select few, the American Thomasites, inspired by the principle of propagating education and literacy to the greatest number were convinced that education to become genuine and truly beneficial must afford safeguard and protection to the ideals of democracy. .
These legacies continue to pervade even up to now, after more than a hundred years since. The continuing relationships that both the Philippines and the United States have experienced through these decades can never be challenged as this intimacy has been perfectly carved into the memorial foundation of history. This lasting memorabilia and landmark of genuine friendship and international understanding between the two countries will always thrive and remain strong because of the undenying passion of the Filipinos for that which the American Thomasites’ greatest contribution to the Filipino people – education.
A concrete and most significant structural testimony of this was the establishment of the Baguio Teachers’ Camp (BTC) in 1908, one hundred years ago.
In commemoration, thus, of the centennial year of the establishment, the country gives honor not only to the American Thomasites for generously sharing the “blessings of democracy”, but also most importantly, to the genuine friendship that both the Philippines and the United States shared throughout the century that contributed to the strength and wealth of Philippine heritage and national pride. Under this context, the centenary of the Baguio Teachers’ Camp is a celebration of the history of Philippine Education which has become the symbolism of the Filipino people’s emancipation and freedom from the tyranny of colonialism.