Have you ever heard stories or news about Olongapo City only to find out it was all based on a misunderstanding or stereotype? Some of them may specifically be positive, awe-inspiring and entertaining, while others may basically be negative only a gossip that prevents you all from visiting or even living in this city, which for all intents and purposes is fairly significant.
So, let’s take a look at the top five misconceptions about Olongapo City and see if they’re legit or not.
1. A place where ALL Filipino-American kids are from
If you are a Filipino-American, you have certainly been questioned if you’re from Olongapo. Anywhere you go, you will definitely see a bunch of Americans hanging around the city. If you didn’t know, Olongapo City was once a Naval Base, which explains why there are so many Americans scattered around here before. Perhaps this is why many people believe that if you have foreign blood, you must be from Olongapo.
We can’t blame the people for thinking and believing that misconception because Olongapo is actually a home to some well-known Filipino-Americans actors and actresses. We have Miss World 2013, Megan Young; her sister, Lauren; The comedian and reggae singer, the one and only Blakdyak; Startruck’s Ultimate Female Survivor and GMA actress, Jackie Rice; The rapper behind the hit song “Panalo” that has gained a lot of praises and appreciation, Ez Mil, and there are actually a lot more to mention. Yes! I know that information isn’t enough to prove that ALL Filipino-American kids are from Olongapo right? Thus, it proves that it is just a misconception.
2. Sin City
With US naval base and American’s presence, it made Olongapo a popular summer destination spot because of our amazing beaches, but sadly, it is also brought people a mentality of reckless sexual behavior, and awarding it the nickname “Sin City.” This misconception is quite related to the first one. The presence of Americans in the city, together with the so-called “Olongapenas,” raises lots of suspicions that they actually are, sorry for the term, prostitutes. People called them that because of entertaining foreigners in a, you know, a different way.
Being stereotyped as a place where unethical things and doings took place and people being sinful, is probably the worst misconception we’ve ever heard, where in fact, this city is actually on the list of being one of the safest and cleanest here in our country. So, let go of this misconception and see Olongapo as a beautiful city with lots of beautiful people that welcomes everyone who sees the beauty of our beloved city.
3. Olongapo is not geographically part of Zambales
When a typhoon strikes, Olongapenos understand the sense of being left out when they hear that all schools in the province of Zambales are all closed, but not in Olongapo. Well, you can’t blame us. Imagine waking up to a little rain fall and feeling too sluggish to go to school because the weather was so pleasant. Isn’t that a pain in the neck? And now, you have the need to enter school with such a terrible mood. And that’s the start to when Olongapenos doubted the city as being not geographically located in Zambales. That might also explain why people from other places are familiar with Zambales but not with Olongapo.
The explanation to that is, Olongapo is an independent city. And as an independent city in the province of Zambales, only the city government officials who are elected by the city’s residents have the authority to suspend or cancel classes in all of the city’s schools. Not only in terms of class suspensions when a typhoon hits, but also in a variety of other ways.
4. Olongapo is a rich city
The fact that Olongapo is a small city and has three large malls do not imply that the city is wealthy. It is, nevertheless, affluent in terms of having beautiful beaches and places where people can go to relax and unwind. Also, even though Olongapo is considered as a highly urbanized city, it still has a poor net value due to its obligations.
In the early 1900s, it was used as a military base and since its foundation, the Naval Base at Subic Bay has been the city’s economic backbone. As a result, Olongapo faced difficulties in maintaining its high economic standing once the Naval facility closed. This also happened at a period when the city was still being built after Mt. Pinatubo’s ash fall in mid-1991, which destroyed essential infrastructure, is still being dealt with not only the city itself, but also the whole province of Zambales. Businesses shut down, jobs were cut back, and the city’s vibrant nightlife came to an abrupt end.
5. Having a provincial vibe
I’m not sure how folks got the idea that Olongapo CITY has a provincial vibe. What was the source of that? It’s all a misunderstanding. In reality, Olongapo is the only city in Zambales and it is extremely urbanized. Even individuals from our neighboring provinces, such as Bataan, come here to enjoy “city life” and work because our city offers a wide range of career opportunities. Where can you find a “province” like city that has three massive malls in it? Only in Olongapo!
I saved this topic for last because, as someone who was born and raised in beautiful city of Olongapo, this is actually my first time that I have ever heard this assumption. And to my fellow Olongapenos out there, this may also be the first time you have heard it too.