222-2661, 222-3301, 222-3022, 222-2206, 222-2845, 223-8016, 224-8390, 222-5401
222-2661, 222-3301, 222-3022, 222-2206, 222-2845, 223-8016, 224-8390, 222-5401
Olongapo City is geographically located at 140°-15 longitude and 120°-17’ latitude and lies 127 kilometers northwest of Manila. It is a two and a half to three hour drive on the average, along the North Expressway and the Olongapo-Gapan Road. It is located at the southern most portion of Zambales Province, on the western coast of Central Luzon. It is bound on the northeast by the Municipality of Subic, Zambales; on the south and south by Dinalupihan, Bataan; on the Southeast by Morong, Bataan; and Subic Bay on the Southwest.
Because of the massive mountain system that characterize the area of the City, its topography is primarily rolling to steep and rugged along mountain ranges. Of its total area, about 80% are either rolling to steep and the rest are mainly flat areas which are usually found along the coast of Subic Bay.
There are two major mountain ridges, the Kalaklan Ridge and the Salimpuyo Ridge both 1,000 feet above sea level. Kalaklan Ridge is located at the northwest part of the city and its tip goes down to Subic Bay while Salimpuyo Ridge is located at the western side of the city. Almost 80% of the city’s land areas have slopes of 18% and higher thus limiting land available for urban development
The City of Olongapo has a total land area of 18,500 hectares with about 2,352.34 hectares or 12.72% built up area. Development is constrained by the generally rolling/rugged mountainous terrain. It is geographically located at 14° and 50’ north latitude to 120° 17’ east longitude and lies 127 kilometers northwest of Manila, a two-hour drive on the average. It is located at the southernmost portion of Zambales Province, on the western coast of Central Luzon. The Municipality of Subic, northeast, bounds it on the north and northwest; by Dinalupihan, Bataan on the southeast by Morong, Bataan and Subic Bay on the southwest. The city is divided into seventeen (17) barangays.
Because of the massive mountain systems that characterized the area of the City, its topography is primarily rolling to steep and rugged along mountain ranges. Of its total area, about 80% is either rolling to steep and the rest are mainly deltaic flat areas which are usually found along the coast of Subic Bay. Based on available slope maps, areas which fall under the category of 0-8 percent or areas which are relatively flat cover about 20 percent of the land, and the rest have slopes ranging from 8 to more than 50 percent. Areas with steep slopes are located on the northern and eastern parts with an aggregate coverage of about 42 percent. In terms of elevation, most of the land is less than 500 meters above sea level.
There are two (2) major mountain ridges, the Kalaklan Ridge and the Salimpoyo Ridge both 1,000 feet above sea level. Kalaklan Ridge is located at the northwestern part of the city and its tip flows down to Subic Bay while Salimpoyo Ridge is located at the western side of the city. About 80% of the city’s land area has slopes of 18% and higher thus limiting land suitable for urban development.
The area is generally composed of volcanic rock which is deposited in various levels. Pyroclastic flows are prominent in the mountains and rock exposures are very common along cuts. On a very limited area like Olongapo City and at the Subic Bay Freeport (SBF), alluvial deposits are prominent especially along shorelines. The most common deposits consist of pyroclastic flows of quaternary origin.
In terms of geologic and foundation stability in the mountainous area, there are no limitations as to what type of structure may be built within the city. It should be considered, however, that due to the very stable and hard character of the rocks on the mountainous regions, earthmoving of this large mass to a flatter slope would indicate a very high cost due to the difficulty in ripping rocks. It is therefore suggested that as much as possible, proposed structures should be located in areas in which the most feasible foundation is appropriate. However, due regard for the volcanic surroundings and the frequent tectonic activities noted in the area must be made for such structures.
On the other hand, the US Navy during its occupancy of the area, conducted a foundation investigation of the areas within the then U.S. Facility now covered by the Subic Bay Freeport. In that study it was learned that there is a high probability that liquefaction will occur during an earthquake with a magnitude of 7 or greater on the Richter Scale with a maximum ground acceleration of 0.3 gravity. Thus, in areas where it is underlain with sandy substrate it is recommended that proper measures be observed in the establishment of foundation underneath the ground surface (World Bank, 1992).
Olongapo enjoys a generally pleasant maritime tropical climate. Average temperature is 80°F or 26°C. Humidity ranges from 75 to 80 degrees. Just like in other parts of the country, the City of Olongapo has two (2) distinct seasons: the dry and the wet seasons. The dry season is from March to June while the rainy season is from July to October. The intervening months of November to February are either too dry or too wet depending on the national situation. The most number of typhoons occur during the month of August.
For the City of Olongapo, the main source of water is the Santa Rita river basin. This particular watershed has a total area of about 92.4 sq. kilometers, with Santa Rita River as its main river which drains into Subic Bay. From the surface water map, Santa Rita River has seven (7) major tributaries. These include Mabayuan, Pamo, Naguraw, Tawirang-Balite, Jadjad, Iram and Licab. Since much of the City lies within an alluvial floodplain, it is also susceptible to perennial flooding, with 10 barangays experiencing chronic floods.
Aside from the Santa Rita River and Mabayuan Creek, Olongapo City also relies on groundwater source for its water supply system. A deepwell is found in San Isidro which supplies the water requirements of Barangay Barretto. In 1999, the beach resort – rich village of Barretto began drawing water from the Subic Water District to supplement its growing needs. Olongapo City also draws from a spring situated in the upland areas of Barangay Cabalan.
Within the Subic Bay Freeport Zone (SBFZ), sources of water are mainly from the Binictican watershed. Others come primarily from Boton and Malawaan rivers which are also located inside the former military reservation. The watershed of the SBFZ is presently covered with forest with some areas allotted for urban use. In the World Bank Report, it was found out that the surface water supply of the SBFZ is not enough to meet the future water demands. It is therefore imperative that with the future growth and development of the former naval facility, an alternative source of water should be determined in the near future. Current projects funded by the World Bank include developing new wells and drawing raw water from whatever sources will the result of the study be, to anticipate this future need.
The most predominant type of land use in the area is grassland or shrublands which cover about 65 percent of the total land area of the City and SBFZ. They are usually found at elevations less than 500 meters above sea level. Practically all of the area has significant lands devoted to grasslands and shrublands. Grasses found in the area come in various types but the most dominant is cogon (Imperata cylindrical). Aside from cogon, there are also talahib (Saccharum Spontaneum), and buho (Schizostachum Lumampas).
Forest lands, on the other hand, cover only 30 percent of the project area. These lands are found inside the former Subic Naval Reservation, particularly in the Boton and Binictican watersheds and parts of the Bataan National Park in Morong. These are also forest lands located in the uplands of Olongapo City.
Trees found in the area are classified into two (2) namely; dipterocarp and non-dipterocarp. Under the dipterocarp group , tree species found include apitong (dipterocarpos grandiflorus) and white lauan (Shorea Contorta). Examples of non-dipterocarp is kupang (Parkia roxburgii). Aside from trees, non-timber species (Calamus species), ferns, vines, and other low growing plants. The rest are either devoted to built areas or agricultural land.
The present urban land use is typical where the majority of the commercial and institutional establishments are lined up along the major thoroughfares of the city. The inner blocks nearest to the main streets basically have a mixed land use, which is either commercial or residential. The interior sections are primarily residential apartments and houses.
In terms of Literacy and Education, the city has a high literacy rate of 96.71% and 88.74% for elementary and secondary levels. The high literacy rate can be attributed to the accessibility of education and existence of schools in all the barangays in the city.
More enrollments in public schools. SY 2003-2004 has a total enrollment of 35,868 children in elementary education of which 6,210 are from private schools which is an increase of 4,226 or 13.36% as against to revised SY 2002-2003 figure of 31,642 (Dep Ed 2004 AR). While enrolment in the secondary level is 20,748; 14,594 for public schools and 6,154 in private schools or an increase of 532 or 2.63% compared to the revised SY 2002-2003 figure of 20,216(Dep Ed 2004 AR).
The total enrolment for both primary and secondary education from SY 2002-2003 to SY 2003-2004 increased by 9.18%. The increase is obviously noticeable in public schools.
Using the mathematical notation of FP = PP (1 + r) ⁿ
where in ; FP = Future Population
PP = Present Population
r = annual growth rate of 1.68 %
n = number of years for the projection
1 = the unit
Increased on number of schools. Tertiary education is well provided in the city with eight (8) privately owned colleges and a city government-run college. There are 10,185 students who are studying in all the colleges in the City and those located at the Subic Freeport Zone. Private investment in pre-school education contributed most on the 8% increased of elementary and secondary schools in the city.
The City’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) has increased from P 128.50 to P 132.80 by the end of 2004. Consumer’s Price Index is the measurement of changes in the cost of a fixed basket of products and services, including housing, electricity, food and transportation which are typically purchased by consumers.
The general upward price movement of goods and services in the City ranges from a low of 5. 9% to as high as 8.8%. Statistics from the National Statistics Office shows that a sudden general price increase was seen right after the 2004 national elections. This was between the period of May and June with monthly change of almost 2%, the highest incurred in the year. This can be attributed to the increase of supply of money in the market brought about by the spending spree during the recently held national elections. The City’s annual inflation rate was peg at a high 7.5% which is 3.5% higher than the 2003 annual rate.
The annual average estimated purchasing power of peso was at a ratio of 1:78 cents, lower than the 2003 ration of 1:84 centavos. These means that fewer goods and services can be bought in every peso earned in the year 2004.
The lowest ratio incurred by the City was during the Yuletide Season at 1:75 centavos when inflation rate was at its highest level of 8.8%. The mandated wage order being observed by the City’s business establishments was the DOLE Wage Order No. RB-III-10 issued on August 20, 2004. It states that all employees and workers in the private sector in Region 3, receiving the minimum wage of P224.50 for non agricultural sector (establishment with a total asset of P30.0 Million or more) and P217.00 (for establishments with less than P30.0 Million assets) shall receive a Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) of P 15.00.
For several decades now, Olongapo City threads the line of development in tourism. It boasts of its famous Subic Bay beaches, forest treks and night entertainment which are very much accessible to domestic and foreign tourist alike. It has water sports adventure and other recreational activities. It offers the coziest beach hotels, restaurants and bars ideal for family, business affairs and travelers.
Trade and service industry dominates the economy of the City, accounting to almost 75% of the total registered business establishments. Trading includes the wholesale and retail sector. It was the sub sector of retail stores which comprise the bulk of the trading establishments around 90% of the trading outlets.
Supermarket magnates are well entrenched in the economy doing business in the City since the US navy days.
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|Hotel and Restaurant||156||154||159||128||152||103|
After the height of economic prosperity during the US Navy days, local entrepreneurs started to innovatively engage in franchise food chains. New entrants in the fast food sector are the well known Philippine’s franchise, such as McDonalds, Jollibee, Chow King, and others.
There are three (3) identified business districts which has been the economic nerve centers of the City.
The Ramon Magsaysay - Gordon Avenue Business District, which traverse in the barangays of East Tapinac and Asinan. This is the former popular 24 hours red district, Magsasay Avenue.
There are almost 800 establishments operating in the area and except for the girl bars; the area had maintained its image as the night life entertainment center of the City.
Another business district was the Rizal Avenue Business District, traversing the barangays of East Bajac-Bajac and West Bajac-Bajac. Rizal Avenue. Being the City’s main thoroughfare, the avenue is the location of the main public market, the East Bajac-Bajac Public Market and the old West Bajac-Bajac Public Market.
The old market is the traditional trading post of City’s traders and wholesalers. It is the transshipment point of agricultural and non-agricultural products coming from adjacent provinces. There are around 1,900 registered businesses in this area facilitating the flow of trade to the end users. The area also facilitates the trading needs of neighboring municipalities.
The business district that would propel the City’s economy in the next several years is the Barretto Beach Business District. Currently, there are 377 business establishments operating in this area, majority of which caters to tourism. The multi-national foreign community also plays a significant role in the area’s local economy. A substantial number of its members have conveniently engaged in beach resorts, restaurants and hotel business. In recognition of their role, the City government has established an extension office of its Tourism Office which also housed the affairs of the foreign war veterans and retirees associations.
Crop production is generally at a subsistence level of production and is practiced only in the outlying barangays of the city like New Cabalan, Old Cabalan, Sta. Rita, Gordon Heights and Barretto.
There are a total of 5,923 registered business establishments in the city, from previous year’s figure of 4,835. Wholesale, retail and service establishments dominate the businesses in the City which accounts to around 77% of the number of establishments.
The City’s economy was driven mainly by service and trade industry. Manufacturing industry was at its infantile stage of development. To date there are 134 manufacturing businesses which operates on various categories.
Few of these manufacturing businesses are in a high variety and low quantity scale of production or job shop type of production. Though small in operations, Olongapo manufacturer of slippers have found a niche in its market segment, popular known as the Lotus slippers. This multi-colored beach slippers with a nylon strapped 1 to 2 inches thick rubber soles have been a household name when it comes to fashionable casual beach slippers.
Some of them have found their market outside the City and have graduated to a batch scale of production. The presence of this mode of production can mostly be seen traditionally on bakeries and food manufacturers.
There were 42,280 housing units in Olongapo City, of which 42,278 were occupied, or 100 percent occupancy rate. This registered an increase of 2.69 percentage points from 1990 and a ratio of 1.02 household per occupied housing unit or a ratio of 4.58 persons per occupied housing unit.
Proportion of multi-unit residential dropped by 15.3 percentage points from 42.3 percent in 1990 to 27 percent in 2000. Majority (60.34 percent) of the occupied housing units were single houses. Three out of four occupied housing units needed no repair or if needed one with minor repair only.
|LAND USE CLASSIFICATION||AREA ( in hectare )||PERCENTAGE (in %)|
Asinan was the first barrio that was rehabilitated after world war ii by the us naval reservation administration because of the proximity of the place with the us naval base. Formerly the seat of business establishments operated mostly by chinese residents of the community in 1958, this barrio was relocated on a reclaimed area when the us naval base was expanded
The place named banicain is one of the oldest place names that was in use in olongapo even before the advent of the spaniards. The old barrio of banicain was a sparsely populated village in the far shore of subic bay, easily visible from the old town of olongapo. The area is actually part of bataan province. The villagers regularly come to the town of olongapo in their sailboats to bring their products of firewood, cashew nuts and bananas. Out of their sales they bought pork, beef and other foodstuffs, clothes and shoes to take back home to banicain.
In the early 50’s when korean war was at its height, the u.s. navy decided to build a naval air station across the bay from olongapo. The site selected included the banicain area. The mountains at the back of the village had to be levelled to provide free space for runaways. The residents were then transferred, houses and all, to a resettlement site near asinan and tapinac.
Now, banicain is one of the 17 barangays of olongapo city. It is divided into 10 puroks with a total land area of 13.20 hectares. The original residents from across the bay are still in the area although they have been outnumbered by new comers.
Before world war ii, barretto is known as sitio maquinaya. In 1945, it was utilized by the u.s. naval base as their naval supply depot. Barretto then is a forested area and the naval base established a sawmill in the area. When the u.s. government turned over the area to the philippine government, people begun to migrate in the area, most notable of which were the first 60 families from the nearby barangay who were ejected from their land. As the population grows the people petitioned the municipal government of olongapo which is then headed by then municipal mayor ruben geronimo, for the creation of sitio maquinaya into a full barrio. Acting positively on the petitioned, the municipal council passed and approved a resolution in july 5, 1961 which in turned requesting the provincial board of zambales to pass and approved an ordinance which will create maquinaya into a barrio. The rest is now history.
Barangay east bajac-bajac lies mainly along the basin of the one-known “anderson falls” on the left side of rizal avenue going north. Simultaneous with the construction of project house in west bajac-bajac, project houses and a public market were also constructed and established in the barrio for use and occupancy by key civilian personnel and employees of the us naval base. Other places in the barrio that were not earmarked for project houses were occupied mostly by merchants who peddled their goods and wares on the public market.
Bordering the row of houses on the eastern side of the town was a wide riceland with some few fishponds which comprised the barrio of east tapinac. During the period of reconstruction and rehabilitation of olongapo, these ricelands and fishponds were leveled, reclaimed and ultimately subdivided into residential lots for occupancy mostly by employees working inside the u.s. naval base.
Then several houses were built in the barrio, electrical posts and lines were installed and soon, electric powers were made available by the u.s. naval reservation administration to the residents.
Barangay gordon heights is located on the northern part of olongapo and was formerly a part of bo. Sta. Rita. The place is bounded by a mountain on the sides and conceived for rehabilitation by mayor amelia j. Gordon for the landless residents of olongapo as part of her master plan for the complete development of the city.
This barrio became a distinct and separate barangay in olongapo thru republic act no. 6199 entitled “an act creating barangay gordon heights in the city of olongapo”, which was approved in 1971 section one of republic act no. 6199 provides as follows: “the whole area of purok 7 in the bo. Sta. Rita, city of olongapo, is hereby separated from the said bo. And constituted into a distinct and independent barrio of this city, to be known as bo. Gordon heights. Bo. Gordon heights, on the east by watershed area, on the south by mabayuan river, and in the west by sta. Rita boundaries.”
Barangay kababae was formerly situated adjacent to kalalake during the pre-war days. However, the site was affected when the u.s. naval base was expanded. Kababae was then relocated between bo. New ilalim and bo. Banicain.
In both sides of the highway going north along the mountainsides overlooking the community of olongapo is barrio kalaklan developed by the u.s. navy. Due to the panoramic view and natural beauty of the place, project houses were built and constructed by the u.s. navy for the exclusive use of american naval officers stationed in subic bay. Although the area was reserved exclusively for american naval officers and other key civilian employees of the u.s. naval base, however, due to the rapid increase in the population of olongapo at that time due to the expansion of the naval base, barrio kalaklan was opened for occupancy by the other residents of olongapo.
The barrio of kalalake was an adjacent village of barrio kababae, east of the naval base during the pre-world war ii days and was formerly located near the bank of kalaklan river. The colorful legends of kalalake began in the time when giants rule the earth and spoke of giant young man and his giant lady love. Their homes were marked by two adjacent mounds of earth. The bigger one which was later named kalalake plateau was a flat-topped hill which many scholars loved to explore because of the caves that were said to harbor fairies and other supernatural beings.
The kalalake plateau was leveled by the u.s. navy to make way for the naval supply depot (nsd) warehouses. When the u.s. naval base was expanded in 1958, the residents of kalalake were affected and relocated at a reclaimed area adjacent to what is now asinan, across the perimeter channel, from what is now subic bay metropolitan authority (sbma).
Due to the continued expansion of the u.s. naval base, almost one-half of barrio kalalake, which was formerly located along the border of the base, was affected and the residents living on the affected areas had to be relocated elsewhere. At the time, barrio kalalake was already thickly populated, occupied mostly by employees working inside the u.s. naval base and those affected by the expansion of the base could no longer be accommodated on the remaining portion of barrio kalalake. The other barrios meanwhile could not accommodate the displaced residents as these other barrios were then fast becoming populated due to the continued migration of people from the different places of the country in search of better opportunities in olongapo due to the presence of the u.s. naval base.
Faced with this problem, the u.s. naval reservation authorities and the town officials decided to create another barrio and the area on the western portion was found to be suitable for the purpose. The entire area was then graded, leveled, and divided into home lots and occupied by those affected by the expansion of the naval base and as the population on the area increased, the place was named “barrio mabayuan” which, in the literal interpretation means “a change for the better”.
Aside from being employed inside the u.s. naval base, the residents of the barrio embarked on agriculture, gardening, and poultry as their other source of livelihood. Soon, bigger houses were erected and officials were elected to represent the barrio.
Barangay new cabalan is located between the boundary of bataan and olongapo city. It is one of the largest of all barangays in the city as far as land area is concerned. It has a hilly terrain which is bounded by tabacuhan and sta. Rita river on the north; hermosa, bataan and mountain ranges on the south; barangay old cabalan on the west and bangal, dinalupihan, bataan on the east. It is the home of our negrito brothers.
This barrio, then known as “barrio ilalim”, was formerly a small fishing area situated on an interior site near the sea, adjacent to the boundary of bataan province and was virtually surrounded by dense forests, hence the name “ilalim”.
hen the u.s. navy yard expanded, the u.s. naval base officials found the site suitable for the establishment of an ammunition depot. Thus, barrio ilalim was relocated to another site near the northern part of barrio west tapinac. Upon it relocation, the place was named “new ilalim” and was opened for occupancy for the residents of olongapo. Soon enough, the place was resided upon mostly by those employed inside the u.s. naval base.
Barangay old cabalan was formerly a part of sta. Rita and located south of olongapo and bordered by barrio new cabalan.
ue to the increasing number of residents in barrio sta. Rita and the enormous size in land area, with a voting population of almost 19,000 which is comparable to a municipality in zambales, the government officials of olongapo city conceived of the idea of separating the entire area comprising old cabalan and constitute the same as a separate barangay to facilitate administration and control. A plebiscite among the residents of barrio sta. Rita was conducted on june 18, 1989, and gaining a majority vote, old cabalan was then constituted as the 17th barangay of olongapo city.
The decade of the 1950’s saw many changes in the community of olongapo. These were the years of the korean war when base facilities, more job opportunities were opened and job seekers flocked to olongapo from all over the country.
The need for increased community facilities gave u.s. naval reservation officials, who were then administering the community, the idea of a really comprehensive town plan. Thus, the u.s. navy commissioned bartholomew and associates of hawaii to draft a plan that would result in an orderly expansion of the town site and that would effectively set the u.s. naval base off from the town proper. In following the town plan, areas in the periphery of the town were filled in the reclaimed from swampland and subdivided to provide residential lots, markets sites, school sites, and all other requisites of a well-planned community. The lots were apportioned to legitimate residents. Those whose residential lots became part of the u.s. naval base were given replacement lots and were assisted in transferring their houses. Neighborhoods were kept intact as much as possible in spite of the wholesome transfer. When the u.s. navy relinquished the u.s. naval reservation and turned it over to the philippine government, olongapo become a municipality. The political subdivisions were later laid out. The area bounded by 12th street, gordon avenue and the perimeter channel was named barangay pag-asa. Like kalalake and asinan, the place was part of the area reclaimed from swampy ground to make room for residence that had to be moved out of the expanded base area.
Barangay pag-asa is the site of the second public market in the city. All the other barangays have names which are old place names in olongapo. Pag-asa residents like to believe that their barangays were given that name to give fresh hope to some of the residents who live on the borderline of poverty.
Barangay sta. Rita is the largest of all the 17 barangays of the city. It is bounded to the north by sta. Rita river, to the east by east bajac-bajac, to the west by barangay mabayaun and barangay gordon heights and to the south by barangay old cabalan.
Barangay sta. Rita is generally a flat valley bounded by mountain ranges and the sta. Rita river that serves as the catch basin of water during rainy season. Its land elevation is below sea level and considered the flood plain of the city of olongapo. Flooding that occurred can be attributed to the overflowing of the mabayaun and sta. Rita river where strong water emanated from the mountains surrounding it. The shallowing of the river brought about by the eruption of mount pinatubo in 1992 is also one factor in the frequent flooding of the area. Dredging is not given priority yet due to insufficient funds.
In spite of all the aforesaid difficulties, barangay sta. Rita is considered the most active barangay in terms of development. It surpasses other barangays in terms of number of puroks, number of population and the vastness of land area. Horticulture and residential lands exist.
Barangay west bajac-bajac was a small fishing village of the province of zambales and a territorial jurisdiction of the municipality of subic. Because of its strategic area and location, it became a trusted territory of the united states government by virtue of the rp-us military base agreement of 1947. As a part of the us naval reservation, olongapo steadfastly grew and developed into a bigger and progressive community. After a series of high level negotiations by both officials of the philippines and the united states, olongapo became a regular municipality as the 14th town of the province of zambales by virtue of the executive order no. 366 dated december 7, 1959 issued and signed by then president elpidio quirino.
The rapid urbanization of olongapo in terms of population and income brought about conditions favorably for city hood. Finally, the birth of olongapo into a chartered city was realized on june 1, 1966 when president ferdinand e. Marcos signed into law r.a. 4645 otherwise known as the city charter of olongapo.
The city of olongapo is composed of 17 barangays, one of which is barangay west bajac-bajac.
During the early years before world war II, barrio west tapinac was generally of low elevation and partly submerged in water during high tide as the area is beside the kalaklan river. Fishponds and nipa palm groves were common sights in this barrio with very few houses erected on higher grounds.
Before the place was opened by the u.s. naval reservation officials for occupancy, the fishponds were refilled with soil while the nipa palms and mangroves were cut and utilized into temporary houses that were built. After a span of about two years from the time the entire area was opened for habitation, the temporary houses were demolished by the occupants and bigger houses made mostly of woods and g.i. roofing’s were constructed. The barrio began to be thickly populated when the streets were widened and electric power was installed and supplied in the entire area.
Olongapo was a small fishing village on the eastern shores of Subic Bay. It was one of the villages that dotted Subic Bay, having such musical names as Tibawa, Ilalim, Naglubid, Diliwariw, Banicain, Boton, Binictican, Ilingin, Maquinaya. Legend has it that the peaceful village of Olongapo was ruled by a benevolent man called Apo. The peace of the village was disrupted by a band of goons who sowed fear and terror among the simple folk. These bandits beheaded the Apo and took off with his head. The villagers were struck with fear and could not be appeased until a young man appeared out of the jungle one day. He carried in his arms the head of the revered old man which he found impaled on a bamboo pole. The villagers shouted with joy “Ulo ng Apo! Ulo ng Apo!” Now they could give the remains of their beloved Apo an honorable burial. And in his honor, the village became known as Olongapo!
In 1884, Spanish King Alfonso II through a Royal Decree made Subic Bay (then called Subig) as Spain’s stronghold in the Far East. In 1885 Vice Admiral Juan Bautista de Antiquiera founded Olongapo as a settlement of the Spanish Navy. He built a naval arsenal with extensive fortifications. With Filipino conscripted harbor, the bay was dredged and shops and administration buildings were put up. From higher naval commands the order was sent to fortify Grande Island at the mouth of Subic Bay with mines and with cannon. But this project was hardly begun before it was overtaken by the route of the Spanish navy in Manila Bay by US Admiral George Dewey.
In 1898 the United States declared war against Spain as an aftermath of the sinking of the US Ship Maine in Havana harbor, Cuba. Admiral George Dewey, then in Hong Kong, was ordered to engage the Spanish naval unit in the Philippines. The Spanish Command had been banking on the fortification of Grande Island in Subic Bay to forestall any attack on Spanish ships in Manila. The fortifications, however, had not yet progressed much, thus Dewey’s ships were able to proceed to Manila without intervention at Subic Bay. The much weaker Spanish ships were totaled by the stronger US ships at Cavite in Manila Bay on May 01, 1898. This was one of the battles that caused Spain to be defeated in the Spanish American war. Spain ceded the Philippines to the US for $20 Million.
The U.S. then developed Subic Bay as a naval station, building a coaling plant on the southern shore, to store the coal used in the steamships of the US navy and a Ship Repair Unit on the Rivera Basin. The Spanish buildings in Olongapo and the gated concrete perimeter fence became part of the US naval installation. (The Spanish gates and parts of the fence still stand today at the Subic Bay Freeport.) the US Navy enlarged the area it occupied.
In 1901 and 1904 US President Theodore Roosevelt issued Executive Orders delineating the boundaries of the US Naval reservation which consisted of 70,000 acres. In 1906 the Dewey Dry Dock was towed to Subic Bay from Chesapeake Bay taking six months and 12 days for the entire trip covering 12,000 miles. The presence of the Dry Dock made Olongapo a main source of skilled technicians well versed in the repair of naval vessels from small cruisers to huge aircraft carriers. Many Olongapo workers found work easily abroad after the U.S. Naval Facility closed down. American junior navy officers administered the affairs of the Olongapo Naval Reservation. Olongapo at the outbreak of the Pacific War in 1941 was a small town of around 7,000 residents. The administration was tightly controlled. The town site, subdivided neatly into blocks, allowed one residential lot for each family for which a “waiver fee” of P4.00 was paid annually. The joke then was that you waived your right to the lot and for that you paid a fee. Actually the entire area was controlled by the US Navy. One lived in Olongapo only if one had gainful employment. All residents were required to have ID cards. Transients could get transient IDs but had to leave the town on expiration of the ID or else have it extended. The Reservation Officer/town administrator was “assisted” by a group of residents called a Town Council usually with representatives from the Chinese and American Civilian communities. According to old timers, actually whatever the Reservation Officer decided was carried out with the Town Council saying yes sir.
In 1932 the newly constructed Zig Zag Pass was opened, thus making Olongapo accessible to Manila and Central Luzon through the mountain highway. Before then, the town was accessed by water transportation or jungle trail.
The outbreak of the Pacific War in December 1941, disrupted civilian life. In a scorched earth policy, US Navy men set fire to navy installations rather than have the Japanese use these. Olongapo residents followed suit by setting fire to most of the town. The Japanese occupied the area of the naval station where they built wooden sampans. With the return of the Americans in 1945 the Japanese made their last stand at the Zig Zag Pass. During the incumbency of Mayor Richard J. Gordon, Mr. Kasanobu Miyazaki, a Japanese owner of an accounting firm in Aioi City, Japan, requested that a shrine be built in New Cabalan where his brother, Capt. Masanobu Miyazaki died in battle at the Zig Zag Pass. Mayor Gordon ever attuned to the sentiments of his constituents, reasoned that people might resent a Japanese shrine, the wounds of war being still fresh. He suggested instead a peace monument dedicated to the Filipino, American and Japanese lives that were lost in that battle. The monument was thus built at the junction of the national highway and the road into New Cabalan. It is surmounted by a dove of peace. Every year Mr. Miyazaki comes to visit the monument.
The return of the US navy attracted many workers from all over the country. The US spent over $170 Million to convert the base into the homeport of the Seventh Fleet. Cubi Naval Air Station, (nicknamed Raodfords’ Folly at the beginning) together with the Naval Station became the largest U.S. installation of its kind in Asia.
In 1957 the US Navy started to implement its Bartholomew Plan. Whole neighborhoods were transferred to new sites that had just been filled with new soil. Magsaysay Drive was opened. A drainage canal was dug. However, before the planned new sewerage system and fire fighting system could be put in place everything was put on hold because of the local agitation to retrieve Olongapo from US rule to the Philippine government. The ID system strained relations just as the searches of luggage in transiting vehicles by U.S. Marines. The continuing agitation led to the protracted negotiation between the Philippine and United States Olongapo Committees that met to thresh out the conditions of the turnover, beginning in August of 1959. On December 07, 1959, the United States government after 61 years of holding on to power relinquished Olongapo to the Philippine Government. Charge d’ Affairs George M. Abbot signed for the US and Secretary of Foreign Affairs Felixberto Serrano signed for the Philippines. On the same day President Carlos P. Garcia signed Executive Order No. 366 creating the Municipality of Olongapo in the Province of Zambales. Olongapo was finally independent, 13 years after the Philippines gained independence from US rule.
The new municipality was not yet free of its troubles. The first municipal officials were appointed instead of elected. Men of the Provincial Governor were put in important positions in the city. Residents finally got a chance to choose their own officials when the first elections were held in November, 1964. James L. Gordon was elected Municipal Mayor. To get free of the political hold of the province, he worked for city status and got it on June 1, 1966 when RA 4645, the City Charter, was signed by President Marcos.
James L. Gordon worked hard for self determination of Olongapo residents and he got it first through the relinquishment of Olongapo by the US government to the Philippine government then by his efforts for city status for Olongapo. His political battles earned for him many enemies who were after self aggrandizement. He fought to retain the power utility and the telephone system which some local politicians wanted to sell to private entities at a bargain. He reiterated his Filipino Citizenship which his political rivals questioned. He was entitled to claim American citizenship being the son of a retired US soldier. Yet he opted to remain Filipino.
In February 20, 1967, he was assassinated at City Hall, only eight and a half months after Olongapo became a city.
Gordon’s widow Amelia was elected Mayor in the next election. Like her husband, Mayor Amelia worked hard at social amelioration. She invited a Battalion Combat Team from Pampanga to carve out a residential area in the hilly Gordon Heights for homeless families. The BCT came with their bulldozers and pay loaders and the area was soon subdivided for distribution.
Richard J. Gordon was elected Mayor in 1980. He worked for recognition of Olongapo as Highly Urbanized City, a separate entity from the province of Zambales. This recognition was won by Olongapo on December 07, 1983.
During the 1987 election Kate H. Gordon was elected Representative of the First District of Zambales. This made a formidable partnership that worked for the advancement of the interests of Olongapo residents.
The presence of the US Navy in Olongapo for 91 years brought gainful employment for residents. One serious social disadvantage, however, was the proliferation of the sex trade as US Navy on rest and recreation made Olongapo a stopover area. In the efforts to neutralize this, particularly the salacious name of “Sin City” that the city had been getting, many measures were taken. Rules of hygiene, sanitation, propriety and grooming were strictly implemented. Efforts were made to turn the city into a Festival City, a Scene City, a Mardi Gras City, with wholesome fun encouraged. Olongapo music was at its best.
The even tenor of life in the city was disrupted by the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo on June 15, 1991. With the entire city covered in volcanic ash from 18 to 24 inches, life became a daily struggle. No water, no electricity, rare transportation, demolished structures, food shortage were only some of the trials experienced by Olongapo residents for some weeks. Native resiliency in the face of disaster came to the fore however, and the city was back to normal in less than a month.
In the national scene, however, legislators were working to free the country from any foreign military presence. On September 16, 1991 the Philippine Senate voted to reject the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Security, thus effectively terminating the stay of US military bases in the Philippines and prohibiting the establishment of any other foreign military presence in the country.
The vision of a new Olongapo became even more defined with the ingenious design of Mayor Richard Gordon to put up thought provoking and highly-motivating slogans all around the city. Phrases like “What This Country Needs is Not a Change of Men but a Change in Men”, “Shared Vision, Shared Struggles, Shared Triumphs”, “Olongapo – A City with Integrity, Character, Dignity and Pride”, among other inspiring credos spelled the difference on how the city was painstakingly transformed into a highly-unified and forward-looking metropolis. These deeply ingrained values helped create a very disciplined and committed breed of achievers so characteristically Olongapo.