Dominican Retreat House in Baguio City now a national historic site

By on September 2, 2014

Dominican Retreat House later on became the famously haunted Diplomat Hotel. Photo courtesy of Eduardo Palaroan / Wikimapia
Dominican Retreat House later on became the famously haunted Diplomat Hotel. Photo courtesy of Eduardo Palaroan / Wikimapia

BAGUIO CITY  -– The 100-year-old Dominican Retreat House which housed the pioneering Dominican priests in the country is the latest addition to the roster of national historic sites in the country.

The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) and the City Government, today, September 1 unveiled the historical marker declaring the Dominican Hill and Retreat House as a protected historical property.

The historical marker was placed at the right side of the door of the structures’ main entrance showing the name of the structures, the year it was built and its history.

The unveiling of the marker spruced-up the celebration of the 105th Baguio Charter Anniversary and strengthening the cities resolve in the preservation and protection of its historical buildings and structures.

Highlighting the milestone ceremony is the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the city government headed by Baguio City Mayor Mauricio Domogan and NHCP Deputy Executive Director Carminda Arevalo for the turnover and transfer of the historical marker and the responsibility that goes along with it.

The Dominican Heritage Site passed thorough validation by the NHCP before it was declared as a national historical site following the strict guidelines set by the Commission.

The structure was validated and verified by elements of the NHCP, its historical background and significance going through a lengthy and thorough research.

The Dominican Retreat House was first conceptualized in 1911 after the Dominican Order in the Philippines voted for the construction of a rest and recreation house for Dominican Priests in their 17-hectare property in Baguio City which they acquired from the American authorities.

In 1913 under the leadership and design of Fr. Roque Ruano, OP, a Dominican priest that the construction of the building began.

The retreat house was finished after two years and was inaugurated on May 23, 1915.

To take advantage of tax exemptions, a school was established and opened in 1915 named Collegio del Santissimo Rosario.

Within two years, the school closed (1917) due to a very small number of enrollees and was reverted back to its original rest and vacation house.

It served as refuge of Dominican priests and Filipino Families during the Japanese Invasion in 1942.

It was bombed by the Japanese Imperial Forces and incurred heavy damage.

After years of disrepair, reconstruction started in 1947 and was finished in 1948.

In 1973, Diplomat Hotels Incorporated acquired ownership of the building remodelling the interior into a 33 bedroom hotel but retaining its unique and distinct personality.

The hotel ceased operations in 1987.

The city government acquired ownership of the property in 2005.

The Dominican Hill and Retreat House is one of the oldest structures in the country which boasts of Dominican Architecture and design withstanding the test of time.