Subic Travel Guide and Itinerary – The Subic Special Economic and Freeport Zone, often shorterned as Subic Bay or Subic, is a special economic zone and freeport area covering portions of Olongapo and Subic in Zambales, and Morong and Hermosa in Bataan. The relatively developed and fenced area is called the Subic Bay Freeport Zone (SBFZ). The economic zone was the location of U.S. Naval Base Subic Bay, until the latter’s decommissioning in 1992. The SBFZ is operated and managed by the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), an sub-agency under Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA). The harbor faces the Zambales Mountains to the west and the Subic Bay opening to the South China Sea. Subic Bay is surrounded by the town of Subic and the city of Olongapo, both in the province of Zambales, and Morong in the province of Bataan.
Development of Olongapo was largely tied to the presence of the United States Navy base, once the largest U.S. military naval base in Asia. An arsenal and ship-repair facility was established at Subic Bay in 1885 by the then colonial power, Spain. Following the Spanish–American War, Subic Bay became a U.S. Navy and Marine base, and grew to be a major facility. Until 1991, it was the base of the United States 7th Fleet. In early 1991, after the collapse of protracted negotiations, the Philippine Senate rejected terms for renewal of the lease of the base. The U.S. Navy was already in the process of downsizing its Subic operations in June 1991, when Mount Pinatubo erupted. One of the largest volcanic eruptions in the last 100 years, it covered the Navy Base in volcanic ash and collapsed a significant number of structures. The last ship, USS Belleau Wood, left on November 24, 1992. The presence of the American forces precipitated the start of a red-light district.
While the Subic Special Economic and Freeport Zone shares name with a town of the same name, it actually covers portions of Olongapo and the towns of Subic in Zambales and Morong and Hermosa in Bataan. It covers a total area of 67,452 hectares (166,680 acres), but only 14,000 hectares (35,000 acres) area is secured and fenced where much of the development in the special economic zone has taken place. This area is referred to as the Subic Bay Freeport Zone and out of this area 2,800 hectares (6,900 acres) is suitable for development with the remaining portions consisting of high slopes, forests, or protected areas. In 2017. negotiations with local government units contiguous to the Subic Bay Freeport Zone began to have the fenced area expanded.