RT Cunningham


Landmarks within Olongapo City, Philippines

Magsaysay Rotunda As far as I know, there are no natural landmarks in Olongapo. There are a few man-made landmarks and I’ve seen all of them but one in person. The Subic Bay Freeport Zone has two landmarks that I know about, but I’ll feature them in another article (possibly following this one). Except for one Olongapo landmark, either I or the husband of a sister-in-law took the pictures while we were out “sight-seeing”.

As I describe the landmarks, my starting point is the Subic Bay Freeport Zone main gate, also called the Magsaysay Gate because it leads out to Magsaysay Drive.

Leaving the gate, you have to walk across the bridge over “sh*t river” (a colloquial name representing all the sewage flowing down the river) to get to Magsaysay Drive. The bridge is closed to vehicular traffic while it awaits the funding to be renovated or rebuilt.

Traveling north to northwest on Magsaysay Drive, you’ll soon reach the end, a three-way junction connecting to the Rizal Avenue Extension going southwest and the Rizal Avenue Extension going northeast. The junction is a traffic circle with the Magsaysay Rotunda in the middle of it.

Landmarks - The Magsaysay Rotunda

I’ve talked to a lot of people in Olongapo over the course of seven years. When I ask about this rotunda, no one seems to know its real name. It’s been called “Fountain of Unity” and “Friendship Rotunda”. Google Maps shows it as “Unity Rotunda”. I suppose the only way to find out the real name would be to go to the city hall and ask the right person. Since I have no other reason to visit the city hall, I’ll probably never find out the real name.

If you follow the Rizal Avenue Extension northeast, it turns almost due east when it ends at another junction. This is a four-way junction connecting to National Highway going northeast, Rizal Avenue going northwest and 18th Street going southeast. The junction is a traffic circle with the Ulo ng Apo Rotunda in the middle of it.

Landmarks - The Ulo Ng Apo Rotunda

The City of Olongapo derives its name from the story of “Ulo Ng Apo”. You can read the story at the Wikipedia page for Olongapo.

If you turn northeast and follow National Highway, it turns northwest and runs parallel to the river. You’ll pass the Olongapo cemetery and the Kalaklan barangay before the highway turns north. It’s at that point, called “Kalaklan Point”, where you’ll find the Kalaklan Lighthouse, also called the “Kalaklan Point Lighthouse” or “Olongapo Lighthouse”.

Landmarks - The Kalaklan Point Lighthouse

The Kalaklan Lighthouse was renovated in 2007. Like the Magsaysay Rotunda, I don’t know its real name. I only know what the local residents call it. I have no reason other than curiosity to find out and that’s not enough for me to investigate any further.

If you go back to the Ulo ng Apo Rotunda and turn northwest on Rizal Avenue, its name will eventually change to Jose Abad Santos Avenue as you head out of Olongapo. Before that, you probably won’t see this unless you’re traveling the other direction:

Landmarks - The Olongapo City Welcome Sign

The welcome sign says “Olongapo Proper” but I’m pretty sure it isn’t even close to the official boundary of the city.

The road continues to the Bataan province after passing the last barangay of the city, New Cabalan. If you look to your left at the right time, you can see the Kalapati (Dove) monument at the turnoff to JP Rizal Street. I’ve never seen it and I’ve passed it dozens of times. That’s probably because it’s in the area called “Zig Zag Pass” and I’ve always paid careful attention to the road that zigs and zags (the origin of the name, I suppose).

Landmarks - Kalapati

Other Landmarks

I don’t know if there are any other places that would be considered landmarks. There are other places of interest, however, and some of them are:

I don’t know when I’ll be out and about again with my digital camera in hand. Unless I make a special point to do so, I may never take photos of places I haven’t already taken photos of, including landmarks in other cities.

Kalapati Photo Attribution:

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By RT Cunningham
August 19, 2013