John Hay "the Man"

The invitation to listen to a "historian" was never appealing,at least to me. Heeding to the request of our marketing officer to join and listen to what the speaker has to say about Camp John Hay was merely answering to the call of duty.

The setting was informal, we had the discussion at the Master's bedroom at the Bell House, Camp John Hay (heightening the fear for total boredom). The speaker seem old to be interesting. There was no visual materials that will motivate us.

But we were totally in reverence when she started talking about things that most of us didn't know.

Camp John Hay is generally known as a resort on a mountain top where the famous golf club, log homes, the Ayala TechnoHub, the Manor and the trails are located. Everything is prima facie. But little did we know about why the Camp was named after a Mr. John Milton Hay. Or why the Bell House was name as such when there's not a single bell inside the more than a century old house.

It used to be a major hill station used for rest and recreation for personnel of the United States Armed Forces in the Philippines as well as United States Department of Defense employees.


Camp John Hay may have been the first place in the Philippines bombed by Japan in World War II. At 8:19 a.m. on December 8, 1941 – December 7 on the Hawaii side of the International Date Line – seventeen Japanese bombers attacked Camp John Hay killing eleven soldiers, American and Filipino, and several civilians in the town of Baguio.[1]

The first response of John Hay’s commander, Col. John P. Horan, was to order all the several hundred Japanese residents of Baguio rounded up and interned in two damaged barracks on the base. The Japanese pleaded with Horan not to confine themselves in a place likely to bombed again. The one thousand American and Filipino soldiers at Camp Hay made little effort to defend Baguio from the advancing Japanese invaders. They abandoned the area on December 24, destroying most of their weapons and equipment and leaving the Japanese internees locked up without food and water. The soldiers left former Mayor, E.J. Halsema, in charge and he and Elmer Herold, another American resident of Baguio, provided food and water to the Japanese internees.

The Japanese army marched into Baguio unopposed the night of December 27.[2] About 500 civilians, the great majority Americans, were interned by the Japanese at Camp John Hay in the same barracks where the Japanese had been interned.[3] About 40 percent were missionaries from 22 different denominations, some who had recently fled China and organized a language school in Baguio. The other 60 percent were primarily miners and businessmen. Two U.S. army nurses were among the internees. The Japanese appointed Elmer Herold as leader of the internees. Many of the Americans later attributed their relatively benign treatment, compared to internees in other camps, to the concern shown by Halsema and Herold for the welfare of the former Japanese internees, some of whom now became employed in the camp.[4]

However, living conditions were difficult. All 500 internees were crowded into a single building, which had previously housed 60 soldiers, and the Japanese made little provision for food and water. Bedding was on the floor and each bed was rolled into a bundle during the day to allow for more space. After a few weeks, because of the obvious need, an additional building was obtained for male internees. The first project for the prisoners was to clean the building. Water had to be carried for one mile as the water main had been broken during the bombing. Drinking water was boiled as chemicals were not available. Lack of water, outside latrines, lack of screens for doors and windows, crowded buildings and the general lethargy of the prisoners contributed to poor sanitation. Intestinal diseases soon developed. Dysentery became so prevalent among the children, and adults as well, that a small dispensary was set up in the barracks.[5]

On April 23, 1942, the five hundred American and Western internees were moved to Camp Holmes, a base of the Philippine constabulary, five miles from Camp Hay. They were joined there by 300 Chinese internees. Conditions at Camp Holmes were much better.[6]

Many of the original buildings which were used to house internees still stand such as the building now occupied by the Lonestar Steakhouse, the Base Chapel and the adjoining rows of cottages.

During the Japanese occupation, General Tomoyuki Yamashita used the American Residence as his headquarters and official residence.

On April 26, 1945, Baguio City and Camp John Hay fell into American hands. Combined Filipino and American forces pursued the retreating Japanese into the forests of the Benguet Mountains. Finally, on September 3, 1945 Yamashita surrendered to General Jonathan Wainwright at the American Residence. British General Arthur Percival stood as witness. These two Generals, who were both defeated by Yamashita, especially flew up to Baguio to accept the surrender of Yamashita. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Hay_Air_Base


Born on October 8, 1838, in Salem, Indiana, John Hay began his political career as President Abraham Lincoln's private secretary. He went on to serve as the U.S. secretary of state for both William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt. Arguably his greatest influences were negotiating the Hay-Pauncefote Treaty and promoting an "Open Door" policy in China. Hay died on July 1, 1905, in Newbury, New Hampshire.

Hay became nationally prominent with the election of President William McKinley, under whom he served as ambassador to Great Britain (1897–98) and then secretary of state. He took part in the Paris peace negotiations to end the Spanish-American War (1898) and was particularly active in promoting the momentous decision to retain the entire Philippine archipelago as one of the spoils of war, thus marking the United States as a major imperialist power.

Hay is probably best remembered as the promoter of the Open Door policy, which was designed to counter the trend toward divisive spheres of influence in the Orient. In 1899 he sent diplomatic notes to six interested nations proposing equal trading rights in China for all nations. This move was followed by a second Hay Open Door circular in the midst of the Boxer Rebellion in China (1900), proposing that all nations cooperate in preserving that country’s territorial and administrative integrity.

In 1901 Hay negotiated with Great Britain the second Hay-Pauncefote Treaty, giving the United States exclusive rights to build a canal across the Isthmus of Panama. Two years later he assisted President Theodore Roosevelt in the diplomatic maneuvers leading to Panama’s independence and the beginning of canal construction.

TRIVIA: JOHN MILTON HAY never set foot in the Philippines :)

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