Subic: The Bay That Wears Two Faces

Manila Bulletin, April 26, 2003 | Go to article overview

Subic: The Bay That Wears Two Faces


Byline: CORNELIO R. DE GUZMAN

We have seen Subic Bay twice already and each time we had enjoyable and unforgettable experience of a lifetime. Last Holy Week we visited Subic for the third time and again this former huge naval complex of the US Naval Station now converted into a giant freeport zone continued to fascinate us.

I first saw Subic in the early 70s from the air onboard a helicopter of the defunct TimesMirror-Taliba to cover the aftermath of a series of tidal waves that hit the coastal areas of Zambales including Subic Bay. Viewing Subic from the air, I saw its natural harbor protected by mountains on three sides and its entrance guarded by Grand Island. These probably made Subic an ideal place for a naval station of: first by the Spanish conquerors during its more than 300 years of presence in the islands, subsequently by the American occupying forces, then briefly by the Japanese invaders during the last World War II and again by the U.S. after the Pacific War.

I made my second visit to Subic shortly after the end of American rule in 1992 when the Philippine government assumed control and created the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority to administer the former base.

I have always known that Subic has two faces: the Commercial Subic and the Natural Subic. These identities blend and contrast and in some instances overlap. The Subic known to many specially those who have never been there is its commercial aspect which include the ports, factories and commercial establishments like duty-free shops. It has also two big first-class hotels: the Subic International Hotel which now operates a large convention center that could accommodate thousands of people and Subic Legend Resorts & Casinos consisting of three properties Legenda Hotel on Waterfront Road, Grand Seasons Hotel on Canal Road and Legenda Suites on Tarlac corner Sulyu Roads, Cubi Point.

I came to visit again Subic last Holy Week to see more of its natural attractions that include pristine beaches and virgin forests where wild orchids and ferns adorn the trees. On Hill 394 visitors get a panoramic view of the Bay and the Bataan forests, the waterfalls and streams around it. Also at the foot of the hills, monkeys at play along the road are a common sight. Motorists many times make a halt to feed them. At night wild pigs or baboy ramo roam around housing subdivisions destroying ornamental plants. We came to see also the fruitbats at roost during the day and in flight formation at sunset above the Bat Highway. …

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