Enjoying Getaway at Subic Bay
Living and working in the city can be boring at times. A weekend spent outside Metro Manila is something I look forward to. I have a friend whose brother is working as an engineer for a Korean shipping company and recently had his training at Subic Bay for more than a month. We decided to spend the weekend there and check out the place.
Subic Bay is in Olongapo City, located southwest of Luzon in the Philippines and 110 kilometers north of Manila.
The mode of transportation is by bus. The bus terminal (Victory Liner) is located in Cubao. The bus fare cost 240 pesos (US$5+). Travel time from Cubao to Subic is 2 ½ hours via SCTEX (Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway) the country’s longest expressway. There is only one stop over all through out the trip at Dau, Pampanga.
We left Friday afternoon before 4 p.m. and arrived at Subic before 7 p.m. The good thing is there’s no traffic considering it’s a weekend.
There are lots of hotels to choose from and we stayed at Subic Bay Venezia Hotel. I highly recommend this hotel since it is located near the entrance gate of Subic and also from some of the shops in the area. It’s clean and the staffs are all friendly and accommodating. There is a Chinese restaurant connected to the hotel called Feng Huang and a Casino beside it.
Their room rates starts at 1,688 pesos (US$39+) and the most expensive is 5,688 (US$132+) with breakfast. All rooms are with free WiFi, hot and cold shower, telephone, television, clean bathrooms, mini refrigerator/bar etc. They also have function rooms for corporate meetings and special occasions.
We went for a long walk to find a restaurant for dinner. The whole place is really clean, quiet, organized and very secure. You can see security personnel constantly roaming around the area. If you will cross the street, vehicles would stop even without a traffic light. We tried doing that several times and the brother of my office mate told us that they will stop otherwise they will be given a violation or penalized. You can walk around the area even late night and you are safe.
We ate at Seafood by the Bay restaurant which is near the beach. The food was really good…we had grilled blue marlin, sizzling squid, deep fried chicken with mangoes wrapped in flour and Japanese bread crumbs and Yang Chow fried rice. After dinner, we went for a walk by the beach and all the way back to the hotel. We took the long route so we could see the place. True enough it was really safe.
The following day (Saturday), we went to Zoobic Safari. We hired a taxi to take us there and it took us 20 minutes.
Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) is a huge place and used to be a U.S. Military Base and when they moved out in the 90’s after the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo, it was former Senator Richard Gordon who took over and developed the place. There are hotels, resorts, restaurants, recreational areas, parks, carnival, international and local private schools, churches and residential areas inside Subic Bay. It’s like a small city within a city. We’ve also seen some villas which served as the official residence for dignitaries when the APEC Summit was held here in the Philippines.
According to the taxi driver, there are no crimes inside SBMA and its really safe. The air is fresh and not polluted. People are friendly and really nice. But what I really noticed is the discipline among people in the area and the whole of Olongapo City which was inculcated by Mr. Gordon.
Jeepneys are not allowed inside Subic. There are taxis and they are assigned a specific buddy number. But it’s expensive to hire one. From the taxi terminal to Zoobic Safari, it cost us 400 pesos (US$9+) and another 400 going back. Though there is a free shuttle bus for everyone whose working inside Subic and if you want to go around. But there are no free shuttle ride going to Zoobic Safari. Having a private vehicle is an advantage since it will give you more opportunity to go around.
The entrance fee at the zoo is 495 pesos (US$11+). The tour lasted for 2 1/2 hours but its worth it. Though you have to pay extra if you want to feed the animals. Its 200 pesos (US$4+) to feed the tigers/crocodiles and 10 pesos to feed the other animals. It was a guided tour and our guide was really funny (Mr. Angelo) and we enjoyed the tour with him. We’re 20 in the group. There’s a tram/train going around the whole zoo.
After the tour, the same taxi fetched us going back. We took our lunch at KFC and went around little bit the area. There are two duty free shops, book store, mini bazaar of clothes, shoes, bags, local fast food chains and Starbucks coffee. Going back the hotel we took the free shuttle ride at the terminal located in front of the duty free shop and leaves on a designated time. We went back to the hotel and went out again for dinner before 7 p.m.
What I really love about Subic is the quiet atmosphere and the long walks we had to take going to the restaurant or other places to see. Passing by with the view of the beach and the cool breeze that touches your face is simply priceless. You could see people sitting on a bench or grassy ground having a quiet and nice chat. Mostly young people just spending time with their friends or a special someone.
On our second night, we decided to scout the place and walk on a long stretch of restaurants offering different cuisines on their menus. There’s a wide variety to choose from, American, Mexican, Chinese, Italian, Korean and a lot more. But we ended up eating the same place the previous night because we love their grilled blue marlin. We had garlic rice and crispy noodles with sauce and sea foods. The food is quite expensive but has a huge serving and good service from its staff so you will definitely get your money’s worth.
There were also establishments like restaurants, bar, convenient store and café owned by Koreans in the area.
Foreigners are also visible in the area who are residents and working at Subic.
Before going home Sunday morning we went around a bit at the port/beach. It’s a cool and quiet morning, which I really love. Noticeable are the street sweepers who are working that early cleaning up the area.
It was a good and short weekend holiday we truly enjoyed. There is so much more to see and experience and will definitely come back to explore more tourist adventures that the place offers.
Lastly, Subic Bay is a success case of military base converted into a tax and duty free zone through volunteerism. It is unbelievable that a former U.S. military base will turn out the way it is today and gave job opportunities to Olongapo residents because of their hard work and discipline. Thanks to former Senator Richard Gordon (currently the Chairman of Philippine Red Cross) who is a great leader with a clear and excellent vision to attain his goals for the betterment of his people.
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Thanks to Biscuitz the author of this great Trip review!
Copyright of the pics in this review are reserved to Biscuitz