Last American mayor of Baguio honored on Fil-Am Day
BAGUIO CITY — The last American mayor of the summer capital was honored on Saturday (July 4) at his tomb on this year’s Filipino-American Friendship Day.
The late Eusebius Julius Halsema, an engineer, served as mayor from 1920 to 1937 and is credited for “transforming Baguio from a sleepy mining town of 5,000 people to a settlement of 25,000,” said Mayor Benjamin Magalong in a speech at the Baguio Public Cemetery.
“One amazing truth remains: that what Baguio is today has evolved from (how) our American forefathers endeavored for it to flourish in peace and prosperity,” he said.
Halsema is credited for building the road connecting the city to Cordillera communities. It took him under ten years to complete the mountain road which now serves as the main vegetable food route named Halsema Highway.
Halsema also put up most of the public service infrastructure, from village roads to the drains and sewerage, that still serves Baguio’s 350,000 residents.
He passed away in 1945. The cemetery is home to many Americans and Filipinos who have been labeled as “Baguio Builders” during the city’s centennial in 2009.
Baguio was conceived, designed and built by the American colonial government, initially as a hill station. VINCENT CABREZA INQ
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