Press Release
November 24, 2019


As the Subic Bay Freeport Zone commemorates its 27th founding anniversary, Senator Richard J. Gordon commended the volunteers for the successful creation of the Freeport from the ashes of the Mt. Pinatubo eruption and the impending economic disaster brought about by the departure of the American military from Subic Bay.

Gordon said the people were the key that made Subic what it is today - the framework for bases conversion in the country and one of the best examples of bases conversion ventures in the world, as international media described it shortly after its creation.

"Kung meron tayong Subic ngayon, it's because of the people who volunteered. We were successful because of the many people who sacrificed themselves. At that time a lot of people were prejudiced against it. They didn't think that people would come here without pay and put their future on the line and put their sacrifice as their capital so that we could have or make the future," the founding chairman and administrator of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) said.

"So today, I congratulate you all. Twenty-seven years ago, we succeeded in turning a vision into reality. We did not let our fears stop us. We did not fear the future, instead we made the future our friend. And thus, we succeeded in showing the world that, together, we can move forward on our own and get the job done. We received no salary then, but we got an excessive amount of appreciation and, more importantly, respect from the Filipino people for what we were doing in Subic," he added

Gordon recalled how they worked together to ensure that the base and its facilities and the equipment and furniture inside would be preserved and protected.

"That was the biggest struggle of all - to be able to win against ourselves and the temptation of bringing stuff out. And nobody took anything out. Again, my gratitude goes to all the people who answered our call 27 years ago, and to those who followed in our path to make Subic work. We have set out to make a difference and we have succeeded," he added.

When the last U.S. Navy helicopter carrier USS Belleau Wood sailed out of Subic Bay on November 24, 1992, Gordon, who was then mayor of Olongapo City, with 8,000 volunteers took over the facility to preserve and protect US$8 billion worth of property and facilities and started the conversion of the military base into a free port like Hong Kong and Singapore.

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