05 March 2014

Former Subic base workers set March 16 to 22 reunion

Former employees of the now-defunct United States Naval Base, Subic Bay, have scheduled a grand reunion from March 16 to 22, the first get-together among some 22,000 workers employed in what was then the biggest American military facility outside of the continental United States.

Ernie Tawatao, co-chairman of the organizing committee, said the weeklong reunion program will coincide with the first commemoration of the “Former US Naval Base Workers’ Week,” an annual celebration recently set by the Olongapo City council for the third week of March to honor former base employees.

The Subic naval base, along with other American military facilities in the country, closed down in 1992 following the rejection by the Philippine Senate of a treaty extending the lease of US military bases in the Philippines.

The former Subic facility, along with portions of neighboring communities in Olongapo, Zambales and Bataan, soon became the Subic Bay Freeport Zone.

Tawatao said the reunion is expected to gather former base workers from the various departments and work units in the former naval facility, which used to be the home of the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet.

Aside from Tawatao, the other officers of the organizing committee are: Bobby Flores, formerly of the Navy Exchange, who is co-chairman; Dolly Vibar-Hernane (Ship Repair Facility), secretary; Jack Kingsley (Office of the Provost Marshall, US-FAC), treasurer; and Vic Vizcocho Jr., (Public Works Center), public affairs officer.

Vizcocho said former base employees, regardless of their classification as direct or nondirect hire, as well as their descendants are welcome to take part in the reunion.

As part of the weeklong reunion program, the committee will unveil a commemorative marker on March 18 at an area between the former Lowry Hall (now the Subic Bay Arts Center) and the former Consolidated Civilian Personnel Office (Building 662).

The placement of the marker has been approved by Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), Tawatao said.

The committee is also preparing a souvenir publication to document the event, said Eduardo Esmane, who is helping coordinate the project.

The reunion is expected to draw participants from the following departments in the former US Naval Base: US Marine Barracks; US Naval Station; US Naval Ship Repair Facility; Naval Supply Depot; US Navy Public Works Center; US Naval Air Station, Cubi Point; US Naval Regional Medical Center; US Naval Magazine; US Commissary Store; US Naval Investigative Support Regional Activity; Officer In Charge of Construction (OICC Subic and ROICC in Makati); and US Naval Communications Station Philippines, San Miguel in San Antonio, Zambales.

Other participants are expected to come from the Navy Exchange which covered the Spanish Gate Cafeteria, Enlisted Men’s Club, Acey-Ducey Club; Consolidated Special Services; Commissioned Officers Mess (Open); Chief Petty Officers Mess (Open); and Non-Commissioned Officers Club.

On Monday, Tawatao and some other former base workers welcomed US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg, who arrived in Subic for a courtesy meeting with SBMA Chairman Roberto Garcia. (Henry EmpeƱo, Business Mirror)

Former employees of the Subic Bay Naval Base, some wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the logo of their former work units, welcome US Ambassador Philip Goldberg (center, wearing coat), who met with SBMA Chairman Roberto Garcia (center, in Barong Tagalog) on Monday at the Subic Bay Freeport. (SBMA Photo)