23 November 2008

SBMA to honor the Subic Volunteers, outstanding workers

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) honors the Freeport's outstanding workers and the Subic volunteers as it commemorates on Monday, November 24, the turnover of this former US naval base to the Philippine government 16 years ago.

The turnover ceremonies on November 24, 1992 not only marked the end of nearly a century of US military control of Subic Bay but also signaled the start of efforts to transform the former naval base into a freeport.

The date has since been observed as Volunteers Day in Subic Bay Freeport and the nearby city of Olongapo – in grateful recognition of the indomitable spirit and sacrifice of thousands of men and women who worked without pay to maintain and operate the facilities left behind by the Americans in the early years of the Freeport.

"As one of the thousands-strong army of men and women who helped protect and preserve this former base land in 1992, I take immense pleasure in reliving with my fellow volunteers the years of toil and sacrifice that set the foundations for a progressive, sustainable and forward-looking Freeport," SBMA Administrator Armand C. Arreza said.

"Today, as one of the thousands-strong army of SBMA employees, I also take enormous pride in announcing that our collective actions in the past have not been in vain as the Freeport continues in its unflagging march forward — breaking new records in investments, revenues and jobs, and seeking greater heights as a world-class service and logistics hub that we can all be proud of," he added.

Highlighting the November 24 festivities here is the awarding of the 10 Outstanding Freeport Workers for 2008, to be held at the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center (SBECC).

Now on its seventh year, this annual awards program - a joint project of the SBMA and the Subic Bay Workforce and Development Foundation, Inc.(SBWDFI) – gives due recognition to the crucial role of workers in the Freeport's rise as a premier investment and tourism hub.

This year's awardees are Ma. Adoracion R. Celeste of the SBMA Human Resource Department; Levi D. Dalida and Paquito T. Torres, SBMA Intelligence and Investigation Office; Arleen B. Dulay, The Lighthouse Marina Resort; Diosdado E. Ednave, SBMA Law Enforcement Department; Severino T. Jovero of Subic Bay Marine Exploratorium Ocean Adventure; Elizier Martin, SBMA Maintenance and Transportation Department; Vicente V. Salvador of Philippine Coastal Storage and Pipeline Corp.; Bernard D Sanchez of Nicera Philippines Inc.; and Jaime L. Villafuerte, Jr. of Wistron Infocomm. (Phils.), Corp.

The search for the best among the 80,000-strong active work force in the Freeport began as early as August this year. Atty. Severo C. Pastor, SBWDFI Chairman and SBMA Labor Manager, said that the foundation received 50 nominees from the different business locators here and the SBMA, which participated for the first time.

The SBWDFI was formed through the efforts of the SBMA and Freeport investors to provide a foundation that can provide a skills development program for thousands of workers here in the Freeport. The foundation has a Board of Trustees consisting of representatives from the Personnel Management Association of the Philippines, investors, Subic Bay Freeport Chamber of Commerce, SBMA-Labor Department and a representative of workers.

The SBMA Volunteers' Day opens with the flag-raising and wreath laying ceremonies in front of the administration building - at the very same spot where the formal turnover ceremonies were held 16 years ago.

SBMA Chairman Feliciano G. Salonga and Administrator Arreza, himself a former volunteer, will lead the flag raising, along with deputy administrators and former volunteers representing the different SBMA business units.

A wreath will be offered at the monument in the same area– that of the Children of the Sun Returning - which was built in 1996 by the first SBMA chairman and administrator, then Mayor Richard J. Gordon, and dedicated to Subic volunteers.

The Olongapo city government has also organized a grand reunion of Subic volunteers at a memorial built in their honor across the lagoon at The Bicentennial Park – the Volunteers' Shrine, where the Subic volunteers' names are engraved on granite panels. (SBMA Corporate Communications)