In 1900, during the Philippine – American War, the US 48th Infantry unit led by Capt. Robert Rudd, established the Hill Station in what is today the site of Camp John Hay. This site was part of a pasture land referred to by its local inhabitants, the Ibalois, as Kafagway, which meant ‘a wide open place’. It was owned by a native by the name of Mateo Cariño.
In October 1903, US President Theodore Roosevelt signed a presidential order designating 525 acres (approx. 213 hectares) of the camp site as a military reservation for American Soldiers to rest and recuperate from the heat of the lowlands.
In December of 1941, 72 bombs released by Japanese warplanes over the Main Gate of Camp John Hay signaled the beginning of World War II. Camp John Hay then became an interment camp for Americans and other nationals at war with the Japanese. The Camp served as the headquarters of General Tomoyuki Yamashita.
The Japanese occupation came full circle, as it ended with the surrender of General Yamashita at Camp John Hay. Formal ceremonies were held at the living room of the High Commissioner’s residence which was later renamed as the Ambassador’s Residence. In 1955, Camp John Hay was re-designated as John Hay Air Base under the control of the Americans.
Camp John Hay was formally turned over to the Philippine Government by the Americans in 1991. The Philippine Government then designated Camp John Hay to what it is today a tourist area, human resource development hub, and forest watershed reservation.