Saturday, November 14, 2009

Olongapo City Barangay and History

Barangay Asinan

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

Barangay Banicain

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.

Barangay Barretto

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

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.

Barangay East Tapinac

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

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

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.

Barangay Kalaklan

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.

Barangay Kalalake

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).

Barangay Mabayuan

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

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.

Barangay New Ilalim

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

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.

Barangay Pag-Asa

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

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

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.

Barangay West Tapinac

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.

I. Pre-Historic Legend

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!

II. Spanish Period

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.

III. American Colony

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.

IV. Independent Olongapo

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.

V. Olongapo a New City

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.

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