History of Olongapo City, US Naval base, Subic Bay

Gene Wright posted to Facebook about History of Olongapo City and US Naval Base. 

And here’s the history what he posted and it was very educational.

“HISTORY indicates that the discovery of Olongapo by the Spaniards was by leisure. It was said that at one time in 1884, a certain Spanish captain decided to cruise along the sea costs. While on their way a tropical storm suddenly developed, so strong that the ship captain and his crew were forced to seek refuge in the nearby shore. Upon seeing what was to be an opening between two slopes on the mountain side along the coast, the ship went into that opening and the captain was amazed to see a small fishing village along the white, sandy shore. He took interest in the bay because if its uniform depth, wide seashores and the surrounding mountains which served as protection from strong wind and storms. As they alighted from the ship, they were met by the natives living in the village who were also amazed to see a group of strange people in a strange vessel. The natives were friendly. In return, the ship captain gave them fancy articles. Stranded in the village for several days, the captain explored the entire vicinity and found himself attracted with the natural harbour and the towering mountains on the three sides of the village. Upon their return to Manila, he reported his discovery to his superiors. Timely enough, Spain needed a harbour for their sailing ships and the captain’s discovery was reported to the superior authority in Spain that led to King Alfonso II issuing a Royal Decree in 1884 officially declaring Subic Bay as a “…naval port and the property appertaining thereto set aside for naval purposes.” By virtue of this decree, Don Juan Bautista de Antiquiera, the founder of Olongapo in 1885, constructed permanent structures of an arsenal which included walls, similar to those of fortified―old Manila, a watchtower, a gate, several buildings and a railway connecting the hills of Olongapo and the seawalls, causeways, and the railway for the transportation of lumber were built across the swampy tidal flats. The Spaniards removed thousands of tonnes of rock and dirt from Kalalake Hill on the south bank of the drainage canal to use as fill for these projects.In later years, the hill was so extensively used that the hill disappeared and a lagoon was formed in the area. With the construction of the Arsenal, the former fishing village soon grew into a town of almost 300 residents, stretching along the beach from the area around today‘s Bachelor‘s Officers Quarters to the Kalaklan River. Construction in Olongapo was in accordance with the general Spanish pattern – plaza forming the nucleus, around which was located schools and civic buildings. The plaza of Olongapo at that time was located at what we now call the Tappan Park inside the Subic BayFreeport Zone, named later after Captain Benjamin Tappan, Commandant of the US Navy Yard in 1914-1915. During the Spanish-American War in 1898, a detachment from the fleet of Admiral George Dewey took Olongapo and Subic Bay, whose deepwater harbour was regarded by Dewey as having ―no equal in the Philippine Islands.In 1904, US President Theodore Roosevelt issued an Executive Order designating Subic Bay and 70,000 acres of adjacent land, including Olongapo as an American military reservation. American development of Subic started in 1904. A community of indigenous personnel was an integral part of the naval establishment during the years of American rule prior to World War II. Olongapo village then was at the west half of the small land flange at the east side of the bay which was later occupied by the US Navy‘s Public Works Center (where the area of the former PX Duty-Free Shopping Center is located). Filipinos also occupied the areas of Binictican and Bataan. Among the most significant events during this period was the establishment of the first municipal government administered by―presidentes municipal who discharged the civil functions of government, in the person of Señor Damaso Esteban (1901-1904).Then in 1904, Major Lincoln Karmany, the Governor-in-Charge of the US Naval Reservation, issued a notice to the attention of the Acting Governor, Don Gabriel Alba of Zambales, placing Olongapo under the Reservation territory. The rest of the old community of Olongapo were annexed by the town of Subic, Zambales based on orders of Governor-General William Cameron Forbes effective April 1, 1912. Pre- World War II Olongapo was a prosperous, small community of about 5,000 persons who enjoyed such community services as fire protection, electricity, sewerage system, storm drainage, education and health services. Transportation was mostly by sea, goods and passengers regularly docked at Subic Bay and by land, roads are linked to Bataan, via Zig-zag Pass and that of Binictican via Morong – Bagac route After WW2, the US Navy played a vital role in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the community and the upgrading of the quality life of the people. The US Navy began employing thousands of Filipinos to work in the naval station. In the course of time, their employments had drawn millions of pesos annually in terms of salaries, even as many more dollars were brought over by the continuing influx of servicemen from the Seventh Fleet of the US Navy.”

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Source: Facebook/GeneWright