History in Olongapo City

Edit This
If you are planning a visit to Olongapo City, knowing a bit of Olongapo City history will help you enjoy your holiday more. Tucked away in the corner of the province of Zambales, Olongapo City is a destination that is popular with tourists.


Legend plays a very important part in the history of Olongapo. According to popular legend, there was an intelligent leader called Apo. This man Apo became popular with everyone because he was a man of principles and treated everyone equally. Due to jealousy and envy among other tribesmen, he was abducted and his head was cut off. His tribesmen retaliated by punishing the culprits and named the village “Ulongapa” meaning “Head of the Leader."

19th Century

During the late 19th century, Olongapo was a fishing village. Because of its deep, natural harbor, Olongapo became a place of interest for the Spanish explorers. The Spanish used Olongapo as a port and developed the place making it a major naval shipyard.

20th Century

It was during the 20th century that the Americans took control of the area. It was at Subic Bay that the Americans established their naval air base. They continued to have control over the region up until the Second World War.

World War II

During the Second World War, the Americans lost control of the base and the Japanese took control of the whole region. The Japanese use the base to manufacture patrol boats that were used during the war. Right through the Second World War and after the war, Olongapo was the center of heavy military activity. With the need for more civilian staff, people began moving in to settle down in Olongapo. This gave a boost to the local economy.


The Philippines gained independence from the United States in 1946. However, it was not until 1959, that Olongapo was handed back to the Philippine government. By this time, Olongapo had become a thriving community and the village was given municipality status. It was only in 1966 that Olongapo was declared to be a city. From that time, Olongapo has showed tremendous growth and has been one of the most popular spots for diving. Divers from all over the world visit Olongapo every year to explore the shipwrecks in Subic Bay. There are 27 sunken ships in the region; most of these were during the Second World War. The mountains, jungles and natural beauty of the land also attract tourists to Olongapo.

February 18, 2010 change by ctanios

Where World66 helps you find the best deals on Olongapo City Hotels