Olongapo in the 50s

Posted 11 months ago

Olongapo in the 1950s lay sprawled across a vast area of uneven low lands, surrounded by dense jungles and the towering Zambales mountain, which formed a green contrasting background for the town’s gray, dusty streets and low, squat buildings.

Viewed from its northern hillsides, Olongapo presents a lazy panorama of a typical Philippine town:  its sturdy wooden houses grouped together in blocks; its main road stretched out like a ribbon across the town; sluggish rivers that divide the area in barrio districts; and its famous bay that breaks the circle of mountains seeking to embrace the whole town completely–all these give Olongapo an impression of contented conventionality.

1950 Subic Naval Base - Main Gate

Arial shot of the main gate going to the Subic Bay Naval Base

Olongapo however is not a conventional community or a typical town.  Politically speaking, it is not even a town.  Unlike a regular town or municipality which would elects its own officers to administer its laws and ordinances, in Olongapo there is a Town Council, composed of Olongapo residents, some elected and some appointed to the Council, headed by a Reservation Officer who is appointed by the Commanding Officer of the U.S. Naval Station.  The Reservation Officers acts as the town mayor and represents the US Naval Station and its interests in Olongapo.

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