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Olongapo History, Philippines

Endowed with colorful a legend and history, Olongapo City is a romantic spot in Western Luzon.  Not only is the city blessed with nature’s beautiful scenario, it also boasts tourism, infrastructure, recreational and eco-tourism options that led to Olongapo’s popularity. 

Legend has it that the name Olongapo was taken in context from the phrase “Ulo ng Apo” or old man’s head.  The story has a number of versions, but the most widely known is the tale of a beloved chieftain by the name of APO, who was beheaded and impaled atop a bamboo pole.  His tribe was disheartened by his brutal death and the gruesome discovery, but it challenged them to become more unified.  Legend adds that the old man’s head became the symbol of the native’s unity.

The growing urban area of Olongapo is situated 70 miles north of Manila, the capital of the Philippines.  The city has distinctive geographic location which is largely mountainous: the Zambales Mountain on its three sides and Subic Bay forms the border to the southeast.  The strategic position of Olongapo City, with easy access from our neighbors in the Asia-Pacific, results in a steady growth of commercial relationship between the Philippines and the said countries. 

This same rugged and mountainous terrain that offers protection from fierce storms and the deep water harbor was the reason why the Spaniards and years later the Americans were attracted to the place.  

Olongapo was the home of  Spanish shipyard in the late 19th century.   Then Admiral George Dewey took Olongapo and the Subic Bay during the Spanish-American war in 1898.  The Americans made the area into a U.S. military reservation.   

  On December 7, 1959, after a prolonged upset by its citizens, United States handed Olongapo over to the Philippine government and made as a municipality.  And six years later on June 1, 1966, Olongapo was declared into a chartered city, becoming the first area of central Luzon to become urbanized.

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