The Kalaklan barangay (neighborhood or suburb) is directly across the river from the northwestern side of the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, formerly US Naval Base Subic Bay. The river is colloquially called “shit river”. I don’t think it has an official name – it’s been called both the Olongapo River and the Kalaklan River. The National Highway separates Lower and Upper Kalaklan, with Lower Kalaklan being right next to the river. The Kalaklan Lighthouse Bridge connects the freeport zone to the highway, which runs parallel to that part of the river. The pictures here are from July of 2012.
The left photo was taken from the road next to Kalaklan Point, south of the bridge. The center photo shows the old bridge that this bridge replaced. The right photo is of the gate at end of the freeport side of the bridge.
The left and center photos are of the walkway leading down to the lighthouse. The lighthouse, in the right photo, was taken from a different vantage point. Renovated in 2007, it’s located at Kalaklan Point, north of the river mouth. I don’t know the official name for the lighthouse but one day, I’m going to find out.
Back when the base was in use, most of the Filipinos who lived in this barangay made their way home either by using the bridge or by taking a bangka boat (examples you can see in the first photo). There were a few that used other gates and bridges, depending on what part of the base they worked on.
My wife’s family (but not my wife, who lived elsewhere with her grandmother) lived in this barangay from 1974 until my wife moved them away from there in 1988. In my opinion, it’s the worst barangay in the city. There’s an ugly cemetery above the road, opposite from the bridge, and nearly every typhoon passing through the area causes the houses next to the river to get flooded.
As far as I’m concerned, I’ve already mentioned the best parts of the barangay. Despite this being considered the worst barangay, even by the other residents in the city, squatters seem to make their way there. I haven’t spent any time in this barangay since 1987 and I have no desire to do so, even though one sister-in-law and her husband live there.
By: RT Cunningham
August 18, 2013
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