The Ulo ng Apo monument

My family is originally from Manila, but after several years, we moved to Olongapo City. It is the best city I’ve ever lived in. Until now, even though my family left the place for almost 9 years ago, my memories of Olongapo still lingers. Aside from having lots of friends, the place itself has a special place in my heart and it has contributed a lot to my personality. When we left the place in the year 2004, I was really sad and hesitant to leave. I got used to being a city girl and could not accept the fact that we are once again moving and this time to what I thougth before was an old boring place called Surigao del Sur. Leaving Olongapo was one of the darkest moments of my life. But now, I realized that moving to different places and leaving old friends are not that bad, because I got to discover a lot of things about people and places.

Olongapo came from the Tagalog words “ulo” and “apo”. Olongapo means “ulo ng apo”,  in English, “the head of the chieftain”. The name originated from the legend of the Apo and his tribe. The Apo was a very great leader known for his good spirit and kind heart. He was admired by every one. Yet, he was envied by the other tribes. One night, the Apo was captured by the people who envied him. His tribe searched for him, but the search was in vain. They were not able to find the Apo. One day, a boy arrived with a news that he found the head of the Apo. He brought it with him and said that he found it at the foot of the mountain. The tribe were furious and fought for the justice for the death of their leader. The tribe named their place Ulongapo dedicated to their leader.

During World War II, the place became a shelter ground for American soldiers. They built a base and soon the city itself. It was used to be known as the “Sin City” because of its pumped up night life and bar girls. Even up to this day, these still exits, but Olongapo has evolved into a beautiful city and those things were somehow put aside.

American soldiers (Correction: Sailors) with their Filipina girlfriends

The best thing I love about Olongapo City is the fact that it offers a complete package of exciting places. Almost everything can be reached by just a walking distance. The American base in the World War II is one of the most exciting places to go to. There are beaches, boardwalks, parks, ports,  hotels and restaurants, resorts, yacht club, skate park, baseball field, duty free shopping malls, old American neighborhoods (now occupied by rich Filipinos),and a zoo. You’ll never get bored in Olongapo. I can still remember the days when my family used to go swimming every Saturday morning. We used to walk going there while we pushed our little brother’s stroller on the way. It was a small pool and we felt like we owned it because there’s no other people swimming with us. We used to go to the boardwalk at the beach on weekends to watch the sun set and people jet skiing. After that we would have our dinner nearby at a seafood restaurant.

yacht club

Another thing I love about Olongapo are the people living there. Due to the fact that it used to be a an American base during the war, there are a lot of kids there who had American fathers. There is a diverse culture in Olongapo. I had a lot of friends who had American blood in them. There are many beautiful girls and handsome boys in Olongapo. As a matter of fact, there are some prominent actors and actresses in the Philippines who are from Olongapo. Aside from good looks, the people also have a good character.

The Americans truly have contributed a lot to this place. Even though it used to be known as the “Sin City”, the place still has its REAL beauty and excitement to share.

2 replies
  1. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Hi! I’m doing an undergraduate research project on Olongapo and Subic Bay (and the effects of American Militarism on their present-day conditions). I hope you could share with me your sources (to expand my reading and references) in this post (especially the picture of Filipino women with American soldiers). I would appreciate it a lot! Thanks! :)

  2. Chuck
    Chuck says:

    The picture is actually of American sailors and taken in 1972. I posted the original picture on group web site for the US Navy ship I was on that visited Subic Bay numerous times in the early 1970’s. I am the first American on the left.


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