It’s More Fun-tastic in Subic!
Today we had an exciting visit and day tour in one of the country’s top tourism destination in the Central Luzon. According to Raul Marcelo, Deputy Administrator for Business Group, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority or SBMA, Subic Bay Freeport or simply Subic Bay recorded 165,000 visitors who came during last year’s Holy Week alone.
Raul is also proud to announce that they have 3 major themed parks and 82 restaurants, not counting those found in Harbor Point. These and a lot more are what Subic Bay Tourism can and will offer to Subic Bay visitors.
And we did experience a great day in Subic Bay today because we were given a chance to take part on a day tour, courtesy of the SBMA Tourism Department, as we get a glimpse of and little background of what Subic Bay is all about. Our tour guide, Philip Junio, took care of the members of the media as he showed us around from the commercial and business area of Subic Bay. Philip mentioned that Subic Bay is known to have the largest convention center in Central Luzon, which is the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center.
We also pass by Subic Bay Gateway Park, which is known as Subic Bay’s manufacturing site under a Taiwanese investor, according to Philip.
The day tour is a mix of information from historical backgrounds, latest innovations and improvements within SBMA. Philip showed us Dos Amigos and Ritz Spa, both are part of the Subic Bay Yacht Club.
Through Philip, we found out that Subic Bay has the most numbers of gasoline stations. They are also the cheapest with Php 3.00 to Php 4.00 difference from the outside market. They also have the largest fuel storage like the tankers we saw that can each store 10 million liters of gasoline that came from another country.
We also found out that SBMA has its own police force, not coming from the PNP. But these policemen have only authorities within the SBMA zone and once they get out of SBMA, they are plain local civilians, where PNP takes charge.
This coming November, SBMA will be turning 21 years old, after the Americans left the base in November 24, 1992. This is being commemorated and celebrated every year, according to Philip.
But even Americans left Subic and because Visiting Forces Agreement is implemented, we saw several supplier tanker ships docked at Subic Bay Boardwalk, also known as ALAVA Pier.
FACT #1: Subic Bay Freeport doesn’t have a mayor, not even under a barangay, governor, or congressman. Subic Bay is headed by a chair authorized by SBMA. The chairman is duly-appointed by the President of the Philippines. Chairman Roberto Garcia is the current chairman of SBMA.
This year, a very timely event to be held during the Holy Week will be celebrated with Food & Fun Festival at the Subic Bay Boardwalk called Subic Pascha 2013. The Subic Bay Boardwalk is a stretch of beach shore primarily for commercial uses where swimming is the only thing not allowed. Any activities like concerts, festivals, sunbathing, jet-ski, and the latest hydro-jet events, are done in this area.
FACT #2: Subic Bay is now home to many Korean-owned hotels like the Bayfront Hottel, Seo Ra Beol Grand Leisure Hotel, and the newest, Terrace Hotel. Nightlife isn’t boring anymore in Subic Bay because of the rising numbers of new hotels built within the zone.
FACT #3: Subic Techno Park is an area exclusive for Japanese companies.
FACT #4: Around 80-90% of those who work at Subic Bay resides in Olongapo City which is not part of SBMA. A bridge connects Olongapo City and Subic Bay Freeport.
And if you’re up for something scary, you might want to visit a former American barrack now serving as a hotel. Ask your tour guide or better yet, if you’re up to the challenge, book a room at Subic International Hotel.
As we toured, we also found out that there used to be three known public beaches in Subic. Officers, All Hands, and Dungaree beach. Today, only All Hands and Dungaree beach exist. Officers Beach was reclaimed and is now being used for investment site. We visited All Hands and met a group of travel and tours operators from Pampanga. According to Marcia Hernandez, President, Alliance of Travel and Tours Agencies of Pampanga or ATTAP, they were conducting a familiarization tour that they can include for their travel packages and commended that All Hands Beach Resort is into environmental awareness.
All Hands Day Tour is Php 500 per person, inclusive of entrance fee and use of facilities. For overnight stay, Php 1,125 per person, inclusive of breakfast and use of facilities. I remember trying to book a stay here years back with my family during summer and we couldn’t get a room because this place was full. We ended up staying at Casablanca Hotel and Resorts. Though more expensive, we were satisfied with our overnight stay. I think that was way back in 2009.
Subic Bay is proud to be known for retaining green areas. Meaning, this place is abundant with trees and provides sanctuaries for wild species and animals. According to Philip, there are about 20,000 species of trees inside Subic. True to that, Subic Bay is bountiful resource of kawayan or bamboo tree, which is useful to those who lives in the jungle or learning survival skills in the forest.
We also saw fruit bats as they were resting in the trees along the Cubi Point area. Philip showed us the flock of bats hanging in he trees. We also saw group of monkeys roaming in one area as our shuttle bus was driving down the road. Monkeys and bats lives in the forest side of Subic and are also a tourist attraction side here. Feeding monkeys are prohibited and a fine of $100 for those who will be caught giving foods to the animals inside Subic.
One of the popular theme park in Subic is the Zoobic Safari and one of their main attraction is the Tiger Safari. Presently, they have included two lions as attraction. These lions were donated by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The road going to Zoobic Safari was built after the World War II by the Americans and surprisingly, it hasn’t been damaged or replaced. It’s still the same asphalt road built during the 1940s. Talk about proper use of funds there.
Entrance fee at Zoobic Safari is Php 495 for adult and Php 395 for kids.
Inclusive of the following:
– Close encounter with tigers
– Aetas’ trail
– Aetas’ Cave
– Animal Musuem
– Croco Loco
– Hip Hop Bay-a-wak
– Bird Thrill
– Tiger / Lion Safari Ride
– Tram Ride
Approximately 3 hours to complete this tour.
This time, there were no tigers around in the Tiger Safari but instead we enjoyed an exciting Lion Safari Ride. The lions, Amor and Latika, were not in their playful mood that time and quite resting behind the woods. Still, they couldn’t resist the smell of the raw chicken served to them. These lions can consume up to 5 kilos of chicken meat in a day. The only problem when you’re feeding them is the time you’ll be spending in a tight tram where you can’t barely move especially if the vehicle is full packed. When you smell the stench of their breath, you’ll be glad that there are steel bars that divide you from them. Time flies fast and you won’t notice that you’ve spent 30 minutes to 1 hour on this Lion Safari Ride.
Other attractions are the ostrich, wild boar, deer, and camel watching.
Our day tour ended around 4pm and we left Subic Bay by 5 o’clock in the afternoon. Oh by the way, we had our lunch at the newly opened New Orleans Harbor Point. Great food!
To those who want to experience a great day tour, you may visit SBMA Tourism Department and they’ll help you out by providing tour guide for your tour.
- 89.5-FM Subic Bay Radio: WEEKLY TOP 20 COUNTDOWN March 17, 2013 (radioonlinenow.com)