OLONGAPO CITY is a highly urbanized 1st class city in Zambales, Philippines. The city is located at the Southern entry point of Zambales and the Northwestern interior of the Subic Bay area, approximately 127 kilometers North of Manila. Originally, Olongapo was governed by the United States and used to be part of their naval reservation, until the place was hand-over to the Philippine Government and transformed into a municipality on December 7, 1959.
On June 1, 1966, Olongapo became a chartered city. The city administers itself separately from Zambales province.
In the history archives, Olongapo was a small fishing village of Subic. The name of the city is derived from the phrase “Ulo ng Apo”, meaning “head of the chief”. The Aetas were the first settlers.
In 1884, the Spaniards conquered Olongapo and made the place as their navy settlement. King Alfonso II, declared Subic Bay as Spain’s stronghold in the Far East for its deep water harbor and the protection provided by the mountains surrounding the place against strong winds. After 14 years during the Spanish-American War, Admiral George Dewey took Olongapo and Subic Bay making the bay area and the whole Olongapo as U.S. Military reservation. It was noted in the records that in 1945, the Japanese made their last stand at the Zig-Zag Pass.
During the administration of the United States in Olongapo, they have spent million of dollars in converting the base. The estimated cost spent is said to be $170 million. But after 8 years, the Filipino citizens demanded that Olongapo be returned to the governance of the Philippine. Thus, in December 7, 1959 Olongapo was turned over to the Philippine government and changed into a municipality by virtue of Executive Order No. 366 per issuance of President Carlos P. Garcia.
Seven years later, President Ferdinand E. Marcos signed Republic Act No. 4645 on June 1, 1966 making Olongapo as a chartered city. In 1983, Olongapo City became the highly urbanized city in Central Luzon.
On June 15, 1991, Mount Pinatubo erupted causing extensive damage at the U.S. Facility and in Olongapo City. It was also noted that in this year, the Senate of the Philippines rejected the Treaty agreement between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America.
A year later, President Corazon Aquino signed R.A. 7227 creating Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority and appointed Mayor Richard J. Gordon as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.
On November 24, 1992, the U.S. Naval Facility was turned over to the Philippine Government, and Subic was turned over to the governance of Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA).
Olongapo city’s land area is mountainous, thus urban development can be quite expensive. The total built up area is about 2,600 hectares or 14.05% only of the total land area which is 18,500 hectares.
As an urbanized city, various languages are spoken in the area ranging from Tagalog, Pampango, Ilocano, and Zambal. Others speak in the dialects of Waray, Visaya, Cebuano, Pangasinan, Bicolano, Ilonggo, among others. The city is represented by various ethnic groups.
In terms of population, there are about 194,260 people living in Olongapo City with 43,107 households. A total of 80,491 comprised the young population. Despite the rural character of some areas in the city, the whole city itself and the population is classified as 100% urban.
COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY
There are four leading investment areas in Subic Bay Freeport Zone, these are the Central Business District, Subic Gateway, Subic Bay Industrial Park, and Subic Techno Park. Manufacturing, electronic communications technology businesses are also present in this place. The city also has warehousing, trans-shipment, banking firms and education facilities that yield assets and generate thousands of jobs.
Currently, Subic Bay Freeport Zone is fast becoming a haven of business establishment which offers a competitive advantage in the global market for investors. An estimated 182 locators/investors are now present in SBFZ.
Subic Bay Freeport Zone revenue increased rapidly from P363.90 Million in 1994 to P399.02 Million in 1995, a P26.17 Million or P1.19% increased.
The climate in Olongapo City is tropical. Temperature ranges from 25.6 °C during cold months and 28.3 °C during warm months. Cool and Dry season from November to February, Warm and Dry season from March to May, and Rainy season from June to October.
ARTS & CULTURE Inside the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, anyone can enjoy a tour and be able to grasp a variety of memories starting from the old centuries down to present events that transpired in this place.
A Maritime Museum can be found in SBFZ, wherein artifacts from sunken vessels, national treasures are displayed dating as early as 1898. This museum was founded by a visitor who later on turned as a Subic resident and diving enthusiast in the city. There is also a Heroes’ Trail of our heroic forefathers, highlighting the country’s rich history with the first outdoor, walk-through, light and sound museum.
Cultural performances are also provided inside the Subic Bay Freeport Zone with various entertainment performances from local talents and some of the country’s best artist groups.
It is also noted that on March 8, 1885, an arsenal was constructed in Olongapo City by the Spanish Naval Commission to serve as the main entrance to Naval Station.
Visiting the Subic Bay Historical Museum would truly be knowledgeable as it highlights important periods of its history from the Aetas settlement, Spanish colonization, American period, Japanese Occupation and other significant milestones of Subic from past to present time.
Products of Olongapo City range from native Buri Furniture making, and other small items of traditional Philippine home furniture.
All tourists and visitors can surely have a sumptuous meal around the various restaurants, bistros, and other dining establishments in the city which offers a vast array of cuisine. All dish are available from Italian, American, Flavorful Filipino dishes, Japanese, Korean food, and Australian steak, among others.
Gifts and ‘pasalubongs’ are also available from famous Pampanga’s processed meat products such as Tocino, Longganiza and Bacon, as well as Kapampangan delicacies like ‘taba ng Talangka’. Other delicacies are Polvoron, Marzipan from Sasmuan, Turrones de Casuy from Sta. Rita.
Diverse religions can be found in this City. Since the population comprises more of the young, the citizens believe that Spiritual nourishment is essential for the youth, thus, AKBAY (Aksyon ng Kabataan at mga Bata para sa Bayan) was formed. This is a children and youth organization of Zambales-Olongapo. In order to uplift the spiritual foundation of the young, they conduct seminars and other activities, as well as outreach programs with the support of pastors, priests, and other church officials.
LIST OF “BARANGAYS” (or communities)
Olongapo City is subdivided into 17 communities:
Olongapo City is blessed with beautiful scenery. One can enjoy the soothing and calming effect of Subic Bay. Others may also explore a lot of interesting sites around Subic Bay Freeport. The place has been a tourist destination not only locally but also international.
ADMIRAL’S GUEST HOUSE
The house used to be a Camilia Simpson Hospital which was later on converted into Commander’s quarters in Subic Bay Naval Station. Currently, it is a function facility of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Area.
Discover the wonders of the Subic Forest by hiking through this trail. One can even see the tip of Apaliin Point and enjoy the sight of Subic Bay.
Cruising along the highway, visitors can surely sight flying bats especially during sunset.
Be enthralled at Subic’s Bamboo Bats which is the smallest bat found in the Philippines. Its wing span is smaller than a child’s hand length and weighing only about 2 grams. At times, 40 little bamboo bats may be found nestled together in a single bamboo chamber.
Tourists can also see Subic Bay’s Flying Foxes which are biggest of its kind in the world. Over 10,000 big fruit bats can be seen here.
Outdoor activities can be enjoyed here together with families and friends. There is also a man-made lagoon, in which one can try native fishing with gears available for tourists and visitors alike.
It is a near-the-bay stop shaded with numerous Camachile trees, best for picnickers.
An equestrian center with riding lessons provided. For horseback riding enthusiasts, mounts are also available.
This is a long, narrow park that stretches along the Perimeter Road, next to the main gate of the Subic Bay Freeport. At the northern side, a mini-children’s park lies. A marker symbolizing the sister city relationship between Olongapo and Bremerton City was also built in this place.
GORDON MEMORIAL PARK
The late Mayor James L. Gordon, known as the “Father of Olongapo City” was buried here. The beautiful and breath-taking view of Subic Bay can be seen here.
The island is formerly called Fort Wint in honor of Gen. Theodore J. Wint. Gun storages were constructed here to protect Subic Bay. Now the island is transformed into a world-class resort. Tourists can enjoy a scenic ride to the island through a motorized banca.
GROTTO OF OUR LADY OF PARDON
This is situated near the side of Kalaklan Bridge in Mabayuan community. Catholics pays homage at this Sacred Place.
This place offers a breathtaking view of Mount Natib and Subic Bay, with a peak of 394 meters above sea level. This hill is said to be the most popular peak in Subic.
INANG LAYA MONUMENT
This is a monument honoring thousands of Filipinos who preserved Subic Bay Freeport after the Americans left in 1992 and conversion process of the place started.
JEST (JUNGLE ENVIRONMENTAL SURVIVAL TRAINING) CAMP AND BUTTERFLY GARDEN
US Navy-trained Aeta Training Officers provides jungle survival techniques for tourists, and be able to visit the Mini Zoo in which diverse biological resources, and all sorts of beautiful butterflies can be seen.
MAGSAYSAY DRIVE AND RIZAL AVENUE
This is the business center of Olongapo City. Visitors can spot various bars, nightclubs, restaurants, hotel, and sauna baths in this avenue.
In this point, enjoy the ray of the sun and spend the day in the shoreline. Be able to see SBMA’s Seaport operations.
Take a sight of the dead giant mangroves and other remnants caused by the Mount Pinatubo eruption.
MARIKIT PARK Situated at the center of Olongapo City, this park is ideal for the children and young at heart who simply wants to have a relaxation. A scenic playground and benches are provided in this place.
MOUNT PINATUBO CRATER TREK
Enjoy kayaking at the crater lake of this mountain. Take a trip to the mountain’s hot springs, cool mountain pools, lahar fields and canyons, or visit the remains of towns destroyed by the mudflows during Mount Pinatubo’s eruption.
PAMULAKLAKIN FOREST TRAILS/PASTOLAN AETA VILLAGE
Take part in the Ecology Tour with the help of a native guide inside the forests of Subic. The Ecology Tour provides a peek of the rich cultures of Aetas, various types of medicinal plants. Tourists may also have an option to camp in the forest or simply have a picnic inside the jungle.
Explore the riches of a newfound land on the shores of this peninsula.
SAN ROQUE CHURCH
This Church is built in the 1800 for the Spanish sailors and Filipinos who became Christians.
Take a dive at the magnificent underwater world of Subic Bay and see rare various marine inhabitants. One can also see relics of history from sunken vessels.
SUBIC BAY LIGHTHOUSE
This old lighthouse can be found along the National Highway going to the North overlooking the Subic Bay Area.
SUBIC BAY OCEAN ADVENTURE
This is a nautical sanctuary of the world’s most amazing sea mammals like dolphins, false killer whales and sea lions.
Explore the various beaches along the coast, from Grande Island, Dungaree, Miracle, Nabasan, Hidden Island, among others.
TAPPAN PARK This is the oldest and most symbolic park in Olongapo and Subic Bay area. The park was named after Navy Yard Commandant, Captain Benjamin Tappan.
TRIBOA BAY MANGROVE PARK
A low-lying forest with mangroves and a boardwalk extending to the Triboa Bay Marine Park. This place is home to nursery and breeding site for clams, crustaceans and fish.
WORLD PEACE MEMORIAL
At the entry point to Olongapo City stands a dove as a sign of peace, in memory of those who fought for battle in the Zigzag Pass. The battle is said to be one of the longest and most hazardous battles during World War II.
Subic Bay International Airport provides regular direct international and chartered flights:
*Far Eastern Air Transport provides scheduled flights to Taipei and Kaohsiung Taiwan during Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays and Friday. *Air Asia operates three times a week with flights going to Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur, Kuching, and Subang). *Dragon Air also provides chartered flights to Hong Kong once a week.
*China Southern Airline flies twice a week to Shenzhen, China
Subic Bay Freeport Zone is 110 kilometers North of Manila. Olongapo City is a two hour drive from Manila via the North Expressway (NLEX). There are buses that ply Olongapo-Manila route via Saulog Transit Terminal and Victory Liner Terminal (with terminals in Pasay City, Monumento and Cubao).
Take a ferry trip via Mt. Samat Express in the Philippine Cultural Center on Roxas Boulevard (Manila) going to Port Orion in the province of Bataan. From the Port Orion, take a bus going to Subic Bay. However, the bus ride should be pre-arranged with the designated officer in the front desk ferry terminal before the scheduled trip.