Brief History of Subic Bay


Spain discovers Subic Bay's natural deep and strategically located harbor and soon builds a naval fortress. 


The US Navy selects Subic Bay as a repair and supply depot due also to its strategically located safe and natural deep harbor.


After almost 90 years as an American military facility, Subic is turned over to the Philippines after the Philippine Senate rejects the renewal of the 1947 US-Philippines Military Bases Agreement and the Mt. Pinatubo eruption destroys base facilities.

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1992 to Present

R.A. 7227 creates the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority to promote and develop the Subic Special Economic Zone into a self-sustaining, industrial, commercial, financial and investment center to generate employment opportunities in and around the zone, and to attract and promote productive foreign investments.

The Volunteers

On March 13, 1992, the Philippine Congress passed Republic Act 7227, known as the Bases Conversion and Development Act of 1992, in anticipation of the pullout of the US military bases in the country. Section 13 of RA 7227 created the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) to develop and manage the Freeport which provides tax and duty-free privileges and incentives to business locators in the special economic zone.

Richard Gordon, then the mayor of the City of Olongapo, became the first SBMA chairman.

Mayor Gordon with 8,000 volunteers took over the facility to preserve and protect US$8 billion worth of property and facilities when the last U.S. Navy helicopter carrier USS Belleau Wood sailed out of Subic Bay on November 24, 1992 and started the conversion of the military base into a free port like Hong Kong and Singapore.

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The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA)

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) - is the operating and implementing arm of the Government of the Philippines for the development of the 262 square mile (670 square kilometer) area of Subic Bay Freeport (SBF) into a self-sustaining tourism, industrial, commercial, financial, and investment center to generate employment opportunities. This area was the former US Naval facility in Subic Bay. 

Subic Bay Freeport Zone (SBFZ) is the first free port of the Philippines and one of the world's successful models of military base conversion into socio-economic purposes.

Carved from the former United States Naval Base, once the largest U.S. military naval base in Asia and home to the US Seventh Fleet, SBFZ is 68.35 miles (110 kilometers) from Manila and covers 262 square miles (670 square kilometers).

It is located in the Central Luzon region and straddles portions of the city of Olongapo and the town of Subic in the province of Zambales, as well as the towns of Hermosa and Morong in the province of Bataan.

Subic Bay opens to the South China Sea while the western part of its harbor faces the Zambales mountain range, making it naturally sheltered from typhoons.

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Subic Bay Tourism

The SBMA Tourism Department, in support of the Agency's mission, seeks to provide quality service to visitors and tourists of the Subic Bay Freeport. Through its rigorous marketing and promotion efforts, as well as its continuous monitoring and regulation of all tourism-related establishments and events inside the Freeport, this department shall strive to ensure the satisfaction and loyalty of all those who come to this Freeport to experience firsthand the uniqueness of Subic Bay.

We are committed to effectively and efficiently:

  • Transcend challenges and expectations;
  • Organize events/ activities;
  • Utilize and maximize resources;
  • Respond promptly to customers' expectations;
  • Serve beyond borders

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Subic Freeport Chamber of Commerce (SBFCC)

The Subic Bay Freeport Chamber of Commerce (SBFCC) is an independent, nonprofit, membership-funded organization founded in 1995 to serve and represent the interests of its member businesses.

We are actively involved in a number of areas and are in the forefront of issues affecting our member businesses, their employees, and their families.

We maintain close relationships with SBMA and other government institutions; also with PCCI and other chambers of commerce and other non-profit organizations.

The single distinguishing characteristic that sets SBFCC apart from other Chambers of Commerce is that our members come from some 20 countries around the world.

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Other Historical Sites

Spanish Gate

The Spanish Gate is a remnant of the Spanish Naval Station in Subic Bay. It was originally the entrance to the Spanish colonial fortress, which was built in the 1800s when the strategic importance of Subic Bay in protecting Manila from infiltration from the North was recognized. In 1898, Spanish forces that were garrisoned in the station were forced out by Filipino revolutionaries. A year later the station was occupied by the United States Navy, which used the gate as a jail just like the Spaniards did during their time.

The Americans used the West Gate, which they called the Spanish Gate, as the main gate to the station for many years. Behind it was a small marine cemetery. This gate was equipped with gun ports and connected to the South Gate near the water front by a high wall of locally quarried stone.

Today you will find at the Spanish Gate entrance the historical marker of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines for what was once the Subic Bay Naval Station.



San Roque Chapel

This small church was built in the 1800s for Spanish sailors and Filipinos who were converted into Christians. According to parish historians, the San Roque statue was first enshrined in the chapel, then known as the Olongapo Parish Church in 1905, when the then barrio of Olongapo was still part of the parish of St. James in Subic town, Zambales.

After the Spanish-American war (1899  – 1902), which put Subic and Olongapo under American Naval control, the chapel became known as the ecumenical Subic Chapel, and much later, as the San Roque Chapel under the Diocese of Iba, Zambales.

Inang Laya (Mother Country)

Erected in the early 1990s at the waterfront area, this monument stands as a proud tribute to the 12 Filipino senators who in a vote of 12 to 11, stood up and declared “NO” to the extension of the RP -US Military Bases Treaty on September 16, 1991, finally freeing the country from foreign military presence.

Engraved n the bronze markers of “The Hands that Freed the Nation” in front of the Inang Laya - Mother Country monument are the actual handprints of the 12 senators, known as “The Magnificent 12”, together with their respective votes.



Children of the Sun Returning

Also known as the Subic Volunteers Monument, this landmark honors the thousands of men and women who helped secure the facilities of the former Subic Naval Base from looting after the  Americans evacuated their families in the wake of the Mount Pinatubo eruption in1991.

SBMA Flag Pole

Located along Waterfront Road and right across the nerve center of the Subic Bay Metropolitan  Authority (SBMA), the SBMA flag pole is 96 feet tall, symbolizing the number of years of US military presence in the Philippines. Its base is eight (8) feet high to represent the 8,000 volunteers who reformed and rebuilt the former US naval base into SBMA. The biggest Filipino flag was unfurled and hoisted here for the first time during the turnover ceremony of the former US naval base to the Philippines on November 24, 1992.


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Bicentennial Park

Also known as Volunteers Park, the Bicentennial Park is easily accessible from the hotel and restaurant row within Central Business District. Its centerpiece is a stone memorial in honor of Subic volunteers whose names are individually inscribed on stone and whose admirable spirit of volunteerism is celebrated at the park every November 24.

Hell Ship Memorial (Oryoku Maru)

 A stone’s thrßow away from the Inang Laya monument and some 300 meters away from the location where the Oryoku Maru (a.k.a. Hell Ship) sank, this memorial was erected in memory of those who perished in Japanese prison ships during the liberation by the Allied Forces in Subic Bay on December 9, 1944.

Waterfront Road

The Waterfront Road runs from Segarra Villas to the end of the Moonbay Marina area. This 1.6- kilometer drive offers scenic views of the bay, as well as an interesting mix of government buildings, hotels and restaurants. Strollers flock here for its invigorating sea air and a panoramic view of the sunset.

Remy Field Complex

The Remy Field Sports Complex is Subic Bay’s main sports center equipped with an oval track, indoor and outdoor tennis courts, air-conditioned basketball gym, badminton courts and a grandstand where big sports events usually start off and are culminated.

A popular spot among early morning and after- work or evening joggers, and other health buffs, the oval track is a year-round well-maintained facility and often the starting point of most running competitions. Nearby is WOW World’s newly built Olympic -sized

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Neighboring Towns

Clark, Pampanga

The Clark Freeport and Special Economic Zone refers to an area spanning the city of Angeles and the provinces of Pampanga and Tarlac. The Clark area in Pampanga covers the cities of Angeles and Mabalacat and the town of Porac while parts of the area in Tarlac include the towns of Capas and Bamban, Tarlac.

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Bataan is a province on the Philippine island of Luzon. Shipwrecks and coral reefs dot the waters of Subic Bay, off its northwest coast. Farther south, marine turtles are hatched at the Pawikan Conservation Center. A towering memorial cross and a shrine commemorating WWII’s Battle of Bataan crown Mount Samat in central Bataan. On the east coast, birdlife thrives in the Balanga City Wetland and Nature Park.


Zambales borders Pangasinan to the north and northeast, Tarlac to the east, Pampanga to the southeast, Bataan to the south and the West Philippine Sea to the west.

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