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Subic Bay


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Subic Bay is a bay on the west coast of the island of Luzon in Zambales, Philippines, about 100 kilometres northwest of Manila Bay. Formerly the site of a major United States Navy base, it is now the location of an industrial and commercial area known as the Subic Bay Freeport Zone under the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.

Subic Bay is surrounded by the town of Subic and Olongapo City, both in the province of Zambales. Also in the bay are Grande Island, once home to Fort Wint, and was later turned into a rest and recreation island for the U.S. Seventh Fleet.

Development of Olongapo City was largely tied to the presence of the United States Navy base at Subic Bay, once the largest U.S. military naval base in Asia.

An arsenal and ship-repair facility was established at Subic Bay in 1885 by the then colonial power, Spain. Following the Spanish-American war, Subic Bay became a U.S. Navy and Marine base, and grew to be a major facility. Until 1991, it was the base of the United States 7th Fleet.

In early 1991, after the collapse of protracted negotiations, the Philippine Senate rejected terms for renewal of the lease of the base. The US Navy was already in the process of downsizing its Subic operations in June 1991, when Mount Pinatubo erupted. One of the largest volcanic eruptions in the last 100 years, it covered the Navy Base in volcanic ash and collapsed a significant number of structures. The last ship, USS Belleau Wood, left on November 24, 1992. Some 8,000 residents of nearby Olongapo City, under the leadership of their mayor, Richard Gordon, volunteered to protect and preserve 8 billion dollars worth of facilities and property from looting and destruction. Subic Bay was later transformed into a commercial zone under the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority.

Largely through the efforts of 8,000 volunteers, Subic has since been transformed and became a model for bases conversion into commercial use after the Cold War with blue chip companies like Coastal Petroleum, Enron and Fed Ex pumping in over $3 billion of investments creating 70,000 jobs in the free port's first four years. It was host to the 4th APEC Leaders' Summit on November 24, 1996. FedEx's Asia-Pacific hub, Asia-One, was also located in Subic Bay for almost ten years..

In addition to commercial use, Subic Bay is also a popular destination for weekend visitors from Metro Manila. Attractions include several beaches, an underwater aquarium, jungle survival tours, racing and duty-free shopping centres.

Subic Bay, the Philippines' first free port, continues to be one of the country's major economic engines with more 700 investment projects, including the 4th largest shipbuilding facility in the world. Following its successful transformation from a military facility to a premier investment haven, Subic Bay Freeport has now reached its crossroads as it takes on the challenges of increasing global competitiveness. Currently upgrading its strategic port facilities through the Subic Bay Port Development Project and forging ties with its equally-viable neighbour, the Clark Special Economic Zone in Pampanga to form the Subic-Clark Corridor via the 45-kilometer Subic-Clark Toll Road, these once bastions of western military might are now being positioned to become the most competitive international service and logistics centre in Southeast Asia.

As a destination, Subic Bay has maintained its allure that once charmed US servicemen and their families. Its community continues to preserve and protect the bay, its surrounding forests and its flora and fauna. Interesting sights to see are its resident eco-tourism theme parks, the Ocean Adventure, the country's only open-sea marine park, Zoobic Safari, and the Pamulaklakin Nature Park which is home to the indigenous Aetas who once trained the U.S. Navy jungle survival tactics.