New beginnings

Posted 11 months ago

Former Olongapo Mayor and SBMA’s first Chairman, now Senator Richard Gordon.
Gordon mustered and mobilized some 8,000 volunteers who took over the facility to preserve and protect US$8 billion worth of property and facilities left when the U.S. Navy helicopter carrier USS Belleau Wood sailed out of Subic Bay on November 24, 1992.

With odds seemingly stacked against him – no budget coming from the national government, an airport that lacks modern equipment, a seaport that needs to attract shippers and empty warehouses, buildings, homes, and a lot more others facilities suited for military use, Gordon bravely started efforts to convert the military base into a free port similar to Hong Kong and Singapore.

The Subic volunteers sharing a meal.
His volunteers, composed of people from all walks, took over and kept the huge former military base functioning: former base workers running the facilities and offices; men and women, old and young, guarding houses they don’t own; cutting the grass; and fresh graduates from prestigious universities here and abroad helped Gordon make plans and policies for the government agency to attract investors and create jobs.

With a gift of gab, a track record in making things happen, and strong determination to succeed, Gordon started to grab the attention of investors from all over the world and soon they began looking at the abandoned military facility with interest.

By November 24, 1996, its fourth anniversary, Subic Bay hosted the leaders of 18 economies during the Fourth Asia- Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Summit. During this time, this emerging investment haven that is Subic Bay had already successfully attracted companies like Federal Express, Enron, Coastal Petroleum, Taiwan computer giant Acer and France telecommunications company Thomson SA to establish operations in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.

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