A CITY WITH AN AMERICAN FOUNDATION
Nestled between mountains of Benguet, lies the melting pot of different cultures, where tradition and modernity meet as one, where a warm cup of coffee is sweeter under its cold climate, and where everyone can call home; Baguio City is a place of progress and self-discovery.
Originally named Kafagway, the city was under Spanish rule for 333 years. It is part of Benguet a province set-up by a Spanish commander named Galvey. The city of pines got its name from American colonizers who arrived in the 1898 where they developed the city to serve as a retreat or a hill station for American forces calling the small town “Baguio”, derived from the Ibaloi word “Bagiw’ which means “moss’, a plant conducive to the city’s humidity. They carved roads to connect the city to the neighboring provinces calling the path Kennon Road.
The city was designed by Daniel H. Burnham, an American architect who composed the original plans for the city one of his most notable contributions was Burnham park a central feature of Baguio serving as a major attraction for both relaxation and recreational activities. Key landmarks were entitled by American names; John Hay after John Milton Hay, a Secretary of State in the US, Wright Park after Governor-General Luke Edward Wright and many more, dubbing the city ‘Little America”.
The locals of the city have also adapted the culture of the Americans as well as their language which explains why the majority of the townsfolk speak good English and listen to country music whilst flaunting their cowboy attire with a tip of their ten-gallon hat.
PIONEER OF ESL
Before, the necessity of ESL Learning in the Philippines originated from South Korean missionaries seeking a more effective way of learning English; one-to-one learning. With this goal they set-up tutorial centers in the capital of the country and soon traveled to other parts of the Philippines for doctrinal missions. Here they found Baguio City as a suitable venue for not only religious missions but for English education as well.
The set up for English tutorials back then were seasonal and short term, as the programs to learn the English language were through summer camps for small groups of South Koreans. From there, these camps evolved into tutorial centers and then turned to boarding schools which are now known as English Academies who have dispersed and multiplied within the city. The increase of schools was accompanied by the increase of students going to the city for ESL learning at a rapid rate and soon after, other nationalities have piqued interest in the country for an effective and affordable English education. Countries from different parts of the world; Japan, China, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Middle East, Africa, Europe, and Latin America have joined the market and so are other cities in the country offering ESL Learning such as Cebu and Clark, giving students a variety of educational institutions to choose from.
To this day students of different nationalities go to Baguio to study English and even immerse their selves in the culture and the art of the city while enjoying their stay in a city with a cold climate and a picturesque view of the mountains.
The metamorphosis of the ESL curriculum has also evolved with the instructors of English academies, A higher standard of Learning is imposed in these institutions as well as the requirement to master the English language for teachers of these institutions. Training is given to educate ESL learners on different nationalities as well as other venues to improve their skills and their quality of education to their students.
THE EDUCATION CENTER OF THE NORTH
Baguio City has become home to “transient residents” or students who populate prestigious universities coming from, not only different provinces of the Philippines but also different nationalities of the world seeking refuge from the heat of the lowlands and an academically conducive environment prompted by the cool climate and peaceful environment.
Based on surveys, there has been a continuous increase in student population every year; the city holds 345,366 people and nearly half of its total population are students, this entails that the education system of Baguio City is indeed competitive and preferred by locals and visitors alike. One of the main reasons why this is true is because the city not only offers a variety of schools for you to choose from, but each institution offers quality education compared to that of prestigious schools found in the capital of the Philippines with standards at par with American curriculums.
For ESL Learning, training for teachers are more comprehensive and is monitored on a weekly or monthly basis in order to accommodate nationalities with different standards and different levels of learning. They offer education for English learning for not only migration and knowledge purposes but also for careers; IELTS training is provided as well as evaluations and reviews in order to guarantee attainment of required scores, some schools are even partnered with international institutes such as IDP and British Council in order to supply the best curriculum, & learning materials from test providers.
ACADEMICALLY CONDUCIVE ENVIRONMENT
One of the best features of The City when it comes to studying, is that venues for distractions and temptations are limited. Most of the shops and malls in the city close as early as 9 pm, Bars and clubs have a strict curfew of until 12 A.M, Casinos and Gambling venues are prohibited, and though there are restaurants that are open for 24 hours, most of them close at 10 P.M. On Aug 2019, The City Government closed eight nightspots in various locations in the city for violating the curfew time for night establishments and will continue to strictly implement its laws concerning operating hours and standard requirements for operations of establishments with liquor.
These are all limitations made by the government to maintain the good image of the City and to secure the well-being of their constituents in accordance with its reputation as the “Safest City”. This not only protects the citizens but also keeps students from staying out instead of focusing on their studies.
Other venues for studying are also provided such as the abundance of cafes around the city and workspaces rented per hour. The cold weather also makes for a suitable environment of learning as it gives comfort to students while they focus on their studies.