I’ve always gone to Baguio for vacation and not to attend an event or a conference so I’ve never had a reason to step inside the Baguio Convention Center although I’ve seen its edifice often enough. Anyway, the Center, is (or was?) arguably the best convention center of its kind in northern Luzon. It is the choice venue for conferences, conventions, graduations, concerts, and many other big events. The site also houses a museum containing various items on Baguio and Cordilleran culture.
Possibly the most famous event that occurred within its walls was the 1978 World Chess Championship between Russians Anatoly Karpov and Viktor Korchnoi. After 32 games spanning from July 18 to October 17, Karpov won the race-to-six championship with a score of 6-5 and 21 draws. This high-profile chess event is said to have been the “most bizarre” match that the world has seen due to the off-board antics employed by the two chess players. The World Chess Championship Index website has two articles about this event if you’re curious. The first is about the selection of Baguio as the venue and a summary of the 32 chess games themselves, while the second recounts those bizarre incidents ranging from a hypnotist delegate to purple yogurt secret codes. (!!!)
Photo from the City of Pines website.
The Baguio Convention Center was constructed in 1974 by the Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) on property it owned in the city. GSIS managed the Center for almost 30 years until a 2003 tripartite agreement (with a memorandum of agreement in 2004) between GSIS, the Bases Conversion Development Authority (which is the government agency in charge of converting old military bases to civilian purposes), and the Baguio City Government resulted to GSIS selling the Convention Center to Baguio City for 250 million pesos using the City’s share of the tax from Camp John Hay as part of the payment. Unfortunately, there had been some problem with the yearly payments and so the Convention Center is now in a state of limbo regarding its ownership, with GSIS threatening to take back the Center.