Baguio City, Philippines

Members of Vallejo’s active Philippine-American community began formal requests for the formation of a sister city relationship with a Philippine city as early as 1989.  The idea was presented to the Sister City Commission by Dinah Villanueva and, over a period of several years, under the Chairmanships of Raymond Bell, Lynn Teifert, and Joel Harter, commissioners worked to select an appropriate city and develop the needed support from its leaders and citizens.  Eduardo Yra was among the many locals suggesting the City of Baguio which was familiar to many locals who knew the area from visits while serving in the military.  On April 18, 1990, Mayor Jaime Bugnosen and the Baguio City Council authorized negotiations with Vallejo.  Those negotiations stalled shortly thereafter when, on July 16, an earthquake struck Baguio and local officials turned their attention to recovery efforts.

It was not until 1993 when Dinah Villanueva, while on a visit, was able to convince the Baguio City Council to reaffirm their interest by formal vote on February 10, 1993 (Resolution No. 096, Series of 1993).  She returned to Vallejo to win Commission approval and a recommendation to the City Council.  On May 25, 1993, the matter came before Mayor Tony Intintoli and the City Council where, after presentations by Association President David Lindquest, Commission Chair Robert Sather, Lori Mabolo, Remi Aquitania, and Felino Ayson the Council formally entered a sister city relationship with Baguio (Resolution No. 93-250 N.C.).  The event was celebrated with a cultural exhibit of Bagio’s arts and artifacts that continued six months at the Naval & Historical Museum and a series of training and observations tours involving law enforcement, health and sanitation, garbage and sewage, and business.

On June 22, 1993, Congressman Bernardo and Gloria Vergara paid an official visit and were presented a key to the City by Mayor Tony Intintoli.  On August 16, Mayor Mauricio Domogun officially appointed Dinah Villanueva as Baguio’s Representative and Liaison Officer to Vallejo.  In November, Councilmember Cris Villanueva, who was born and raised in Baguio, and his wife, Candy, led a delegation that included Diji Christian, Carmela May, and Dinah Villanueva to Baguio to finalize details of the relationship with Mayor Mauricio Domogan, the City Council, and officers and members of the Sister City Committee.  The delegation presented the Council with a silver tray and were given several wood carvings and a key to the city.

On July 27, 1994, to mark the first anniversary of the sister city relationship between Baguio and Vallejo, Mayor Domogun led a delegation of 14 that included Elmo Nevada, Galo Wegan, and Ruben Panlilio from the City Council.  Receptions were hosted by the FilAm Community.  The Farewell Banquet was held at the Mare Island Officers Club.  City representatives signed and issued a Memorandum of Understanding and received SCI Official Charters.

Between June 10 and December 31, 1995, under the sponsorship of the Sister City and Cultural Commissions, the Naval and Historical Museum featured an open exhibit of Baguio’s arts.  The opening ceremony and cocktail receptions were well attended by city officials and FilAm representatives.  In September, Mayor and Mrs. Rebecca Domogum visited and met with Mayor Ininitoli.

In 1996, Mayor Mayor and Mrs. Domogun again visited in advance of a delegation of 35 representing the Baguio Chamber of Commerce that visited October 22 and 23 to discuss trade exchanges and investment pacts and the possibility of forming twinning chambers.

There were official visits in April and in November of 1997 welcomed by Mayor Gloria Exline.

On April 25, 2002, Mayor Bernardo Vergara reappointed Dinah Villanueva as Baguio’s Liaison Officer to “enhance the sisterhood ties of both local governments.” In May, Mayor Bernardo Vergara and his wife, Gloria, four city officials, Peter Baautista, Tony Tabora, Elmer Datuin, and Elmo Nevada, City Architect Ignacio Espitona, Peter Rey Bautista, and Elmer and Edith Datuin paid an official visit to Vallejo that included golf matches with local leaders and a dinner reception at the Osaka Sushi Restaurant.  In June, Baguio City Congressman Mauricio Dumogan visited and was feted at a dinner reception.

In 2006, Mayor Tony Intintoli led a delegation of 26 on an official visit to Baguio that included the signing of a twinning agreement between the Baguio Chamber of Commerce and the local FilAm Chamber of Commerce.

On May 11, 2007, the Association helped celebrate the official visit of Philippine Ambassador William Gaa to Vallejo.

In 2009, Baguio celebrated its centennial as an incorporated city with several official ceremonies that were attended by a contingent from Vallejo.  Dinah Villanueva, at the request of Mayor Osby Davis, delivered an address celebrating the bonds between the two cities.  The visit was highlighted by the dedication of Baguio’s Sister City Centennial Botanical Garden that includes the Vallejo monument given as a gift to the citizens of Baguio.

In September 2011, Baguio sent a delegation to Vallejo as part of an administrative and economic exchange forum.  The group was led by Mayor Mauricio Domogan and included City          Councilors Betty Lourdes Tabanda and Erdolfo Balajadia, City Administrator Carlos Canilao, and 26 other city officials.  Mayor Osby Davis, Commission Chair Dinah Villanueva, and Association President Paul Ligda were among those to officially welcome the delegation at City Hall.  The visit ended after a dinner reception hosted by Larry and Lillibeth Asera at their office at 500 Walnut Avenue on Mare Island.

In 2013, Baguio extended invitations to each of her fifteen sister cities to visit during their annual Panangbenga Festival in February.  Lillibeth Asera organized the Vallejo delegation that included Paul Ligda, Elisa and Ward Stewart, and Dan and Nelly Buan.  They were hosted by a committee led by Mayor Mauricio Domogan and Congressman Bernardo Vergara.    The visit included participation in a joint forum with Baguio representatives and representatives from other sister cities, visits to Sister Cities Park and Baguio Central High School as well as the opportunity to participate in the People/Flower Parade before the thousands of visitors in the city for the Festival.

To mark the 25th anniversary of the sister city relationship, Councilwoman Rosanna Verder-Aliga headed a delegation that included Commission Chair Pelton Stewart and Association President Elissa Shanks-Stewart, a girls’ basketball team coached by Myisha Albert, and a taekwondo team led by Grandmaster William Kim that arrived in Baguio from Jincheon in Korea on July 21, 2018.  The delegation was greeted at                  by city officials and staff who kept the food warm and waited as the bus was delayed by hours escaping the metro Manila traffic that kept progress to a crawl as did the climb on reaching the mountains.

On the 22nd, the entire delegation was hosted at the home of                enjoying lunch and an afternoon of swimming in the pools fed by waters from the Asin Hot Springs nearby.  Stopped at the Ben Cab Museum on the drive back.

On the 23rd all attended a formalized Flag Raising Ceremony in front of City Hall where they were welcomed by Elmer Datuin, City Councilor, addressed by Mayor Mauricio Domogan, and entertained by students from the Baguio City National High School Special Program in the Arts.  Plaques of appreciation were exchanged, and a memorandum of understanding signed.

After a lunch hosted by the University, friendship competitions were held at the Baguio University on July 24th with the girls’ basketball team holding off the Baguio team 64-62 despite having just five players uninjured and able to play.

On the morning of the 25th, the delegation planted trees at the Baguio Water District’s reservoir high above the city   The Farewell/Testimonial Dinner was held on the 25th at the Fortune Hong Kong Seafood Restaurant Pavilion where the entertainment was provided by the University of the Cordilleras Saeng Ya Kasay Cultural Ensemble and gifts exchanged.

Delegation left Baguio on the 26th for the bus ride to Manila and an overnight stay before the long flight home on the 27th.