Most Filipinos living in this area are unaware of all the gates that lead to and from the Subic Bay Freeport Zone. I’ve probably missed one or two and I’ve lived in Olongapo for more than 11 years.
Why do these gates exist? I can give you two reasons. First, it’s formerly a United States Naval Base. Second, they keep the undesirable people out. I won’t get into why some people are perceived as undesirable.
Without the gates, this very nice piece of land would quickly become unmanageable by the Philippine government.
This is a list of the gates I know about:
The Magsaysay gate was the main gate until it became unsafe to drive vehicles on. The main gate is now the Rizal gate. I could be wrong but I don’t think the Rizal gate existed when I was here in the 1980s.
Until one of my relatives showed me, I didn’t know about the 14th Street or Kalayaan gates.
I haven’t driven my car here even once. I drove my former car, but not this one. My wife, Josie, drives it on occasion. Another relative, Alex, drives it the most. He’s our driver when he’s not driving his taxi.
The Kalayaan gate is restricted to residents of the Kalayaan housing area near that gate. Residents have to have a sticker to go beyond a certain checkpoint. I don’t know how he got one, but Alex got a sticker for my car. The road past the gate is the beginning of Argonaut Highway on the freeport zone. It’s the gate closest to home and closest to where we need to go most of the time.
On paydays, our first stop is the BDO bank branch after turning right on Argonaut Highway to Rizal Highway. The Royal Subic store, which we usually stop at last, is on Palm Street just before that intersection.
Alex sometimes exits at the 14th Street gate. It’s usually when we’re coming from one of those two places and headed home.
Alex will choose the Kalaklan gate when we’re headed for the Harbor Point mall. We usually go there to see movies or eat at one of the restaurants, but not often.
He’ll also choose that gate when traffic is really bad going through the other gates leading to the main business area. Out of all the gates, I like that one the most. The bridge was rebuilt and widened a few years ago. The only stop light in the city is at the entrance to the bridge, which is just off National Highway.
When I used to drive, I always used the Kalaklan gate even if my destination was farther away because of it. It’s faster and easier to get to. I never liked turning left from Otero Avenue to National Highway. There’s no stop light or stop sign there and easing out into traffic isn’t my idea of fun.
There may be other gates I don’t know about. I know there’s an exit for vehicles from Tipo Road to the Bataan-Olongapo Highway, but I wouldn’t call that a gate.
I would probably have to study Google Maps to find any more. It’s hard to pinpoint anything on the jungle side of the freeport zone, so I won’t do that unless I’m incredibly bored.
By: RT Cunningham
July 15, 2017
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