King Alfonso XII by royal decree made “Subig” Bay Spain’s stronghold in the Far East in 1884, and in 1885 the Island village of Olongapo was chosen by the Spanish as a navy station and arsenal occupying the area east of the Spanish Gate.
On May 1st 1898 a detachment of Admiral Dewey’s invasion fleet bombarded the navy yard, and the Spanish surrender heralded the U.S. colonial era. Subic was further developed and the township of Olongapo developed beyond the gates servicing the growing needs of the U.S. Navy.
WW2 broke out in the Pacific in 1941, and on December 14th Japanese bombers attacked Olongapo and Subic, and 10 days later the Navy withdrew and burned the facility down. In 1945 Olongapo was bombed and shelled again this time by the joint American and Philippine forces. Only the Station Chapel (Olongapo Parish Church before the war), and the Spanish Gate remained after the Japanese surrender.
The United States of America granted independence to the Philippines on July 4, 1946, and Subic Bay was retained by the U.S. and the pre-war town was incorporated into the facility.
During the Korean War the base continued to be extended, and again during the Vietnam era.
Along came the eruption of Mount Pinatubo on June 15th, 1991 which caused massive damage due to ash fall, followed by the decision of the Philippine government not to extend the Military Bases Agreement on September 16th, 1991 sounded the death knell for the U.S. facilities.
An amazing effort by Olongapo mayor Richard Gordon galvanized the people into working on the former base converting it to a Freeport Zone, leading to the boom town it is today.