Olongapo: The City of Excellence
Olongapo City Ulo Ng Apo
The city of Olongapo is an independent highly urbanized city located in the province of Zambales, Philippines. Along with the town of Subic, it comprises the Metro Olongapo, one of the twelve Metropolitan Areas in the Philippines.
Olongapo was originally governed as a part of the United States Naval Reservation. It was relinquished to the Philippine government and converted into a municipality on December 7, 1959. Six years later, Olongapo was reconverted to a chartered city on June 1 1966. Olongapo City administers itself autonomously from Zambales province. Adjacent to the city is the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, Zambales, which until 1992 was a United States naval base.
According to popular legend, there once was a group of warring tribes who lived in the area in and around what is now the modern city. A wise old man, seeing the perils of disunity, exerted great effort toward uniting the warring tribes. There was, however, some who bitterly opposed his idea, and one day the old man just disappeared.
After a long search, the old man's body was found, but with the head missing. It is said that the tribesmen launched search parties to locate the severed head of the man. (To the Sambal, decapitation was the only permissible form of assassination.)
These efforts proved to be futile, and the search was eventually called off. A boy, however, vowed to himself that he would not stop searching until he found the elder’s head. He searched for weeks, but found nothing. Then, one day, he chanced upon what appeared to be the old man’s head, resting on top of a bamboo pole. The boy ran back to his people crying, “Olo nin apo! Olo nin apo!” (“head of the elder” in Sambal; translates as “ulo ng apo” in Tagalog), running hysterically from village to village. The phrase stuck, and that, according to legend, is how the area got its name, Olongapo.
To this day, the old man’s head acts as a symbol of the unity of the people of what is now a modern city.
Places of Interest
- Ulo ng Apo: A towering and majestic marker located at the rotunda in Bajac-Bajac. A very visible and tangible tourist attraction to glorify the legend of the city.
- Olongapo City Hall: The City Hall is located at Rizal Avenue, West Bajac-Bajac. On the east side contains the PUD (Public Utilities Department), in charge of providing electricity to the city. To the east is the Olongapo City PNP Police Station 1, and at the back of the city hall is the Health Building.
- Olongapo City Convention Center: More conveniently known as OCCC or OCC, it has been the site of many events in Olongapo City history, not to mention numerous conferences, meetings, and school events.
- Olongapo City Museum: Opened to the public on 2003, the museum contains dioramas, artifacts, and paintings about the history of the city. At the entrance, a rotating Ulo ng Apo statue meets you.
- Olongapo City Public Library: The original Library stood near the City Hall. However, to make way for the construction of the PUD office, it was relocated at Hospital Road, East Tapinac; near the Convention Center.
- Marikit Park: One of the earliest parks of Olongapo, it has become famous in its time. Today, it is near Gordon College, the museum, the convention center and the library.
- Olongapo Lighthouse: A panoramic view perfect for picture taking. This old lighthouse is located along the national highway going to the north. It overlooks the Subic Bay Freeport area.
- Kalapati (The Dove Monument): 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 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. This monument welcomes travelers who will pass the first barangay of Olongapo City from the province of Bataan.
- SM City Olongapo (formerly Olongapo City Mall): The only shopping mall that was formerly government-owned on May 1, 2004 as the Olongapo City Mall. But, it was demolished in 2010 to become SM City Olongapo that was softly opened on December 15, 2011 and was grandly opened on February 10, 2012.
- Harbor Point, Subic: Harbor Point is a large shopping mall in Olongapo City, Philippines owned by property development firm Ayala Land, Inc., a real estate subsidiary of Ayala Corporation. It is the first Ayala Shopping Center located in the city of Olongapo and the second Mall to be opened in Central Luzon and outside Metro Manila.
- Ridon's St. Jude Medical Center, Olongapo: (formerly St. Jude Family Hospital) is one of the oldest hospitals in Olongapo with 40 yearsof providing health services.
SM City Olongapo
Marikit Park Facade
Olongapo city multi purpose rizal triangle
Olongapo City Hall
Where to Shop
The clean Olongapo Public Market displays and sells a very wide variety of dry and wet goods Complementing the public markets are the numerous shops that line Magsaysay Drive and Rizal Avenue. They contribute to making shopping in Olongapo, incuding the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, a true pleasure.
The beauty of Olongapo’s Beaches is that everyone can enjoy them. Not only are they accessible, they are very affordable. There are several beaches to pick from for the budget-conscious traveler. All located at Barrio Baretto, the northernmost portion of the city called Beach Boulevard. In several resorts, you can actually enjoy stepping out of your bedroom into the beach.
Your trip to Olangpo would not be complete without discovering what the city has to offer by way of cuisine. Because of Olongapo's history, pizza and hamburger joints abound. However, the recent influx of international investors to the area also has brought a taste for Hong Kong style or Szechuan Chinese dishes as well as exciting Indian, Thai, Middle-Eastern, Mexican. Malaysian, Japanese, German, Swiss, and Italian cuisine. And for local cuisine, check out the local wet market to sample the freshest seafood around.
Olongapo’s famed nightlife is alive and kicking. Many of today’s stars actually owe their start to this city’s entertainment district. You just may discover the next band sensation along the hubs of nightlife activities at Magsaysay Drive. Gordon Avenue and Beach Boulevard.
Where to Stay
In Olongapo a selection of deluxe, standard, economy and pension type accommodations are available. There are also a variety of resorts ranging from de luxe to the special interest category.
List of accommodations that can be found in the city
- Essensa Inn - St. corner Fontaine St., East Bajac Bajac, Olongapo City
- Asiana Hotel - Gordon Avenue, Barangay Asinan, Olongapo City
- Granny's Inn - Gordon Avenue, New Asinan, Olongapo City
- Ridgecrest Gardens Hotel - 15 Magsaysay Drive, New Asinan, Olongapo City
- Olongapo Travel Lodge - Magsaysay Drive, Olongapo City
- Win Hotel - St. Corner Brill St. West Bajac Bajac Olongapo City, located at Victory Liner Terminal Compound
- City View Hotel - Magsaysay Drive, New Asinan, Olongapo City
- SanJaHa Inn - 64 Gordon Ave. New Asinan Olongapo City
Visitors can reach the city of Olongapo by riding a bus from Manila. There are bus lines in Manila that have daily trips to Manila-Olongapo or ply the routes to Olongapo. Several terminals are located at Caloocan, Cubao, Kamias, Pasay and Sampaloc.