A Day Trip to Subic Bay and Olongapo City


We were halfway through our trip when our three-year-old son mentioned that he loves bus rides more than airplane rides because he could see more things and activities outside. At that exact moment, he leaned onto his seat and dozed off—he was lulled to sleep by the moving bus. It’s also at this moment that I realized that sometimes, for kids, it’s actually the journey that they value more rather than the destination—a lesson that can also be relevant for adults.

It was Saturday morning when the three of us went to the Victory Liner Bus Station and took an early bus ride to Olongapo City. My late mom and dad both hailed from Cabangan, a quiet town in the northern part of Zambales, so it’s not uncommon for me to take this route. We were actually going to a funeral of a relative and the plan was to explore Olongapo City and SBMA—a day tour of sorts. We initially planned on spending the night there but we didn’t have the time to look for deals on discounted hotels and resorts in Zambales.

Victory Liner Olongapo

Commuting isn’t new to us as we don’t own a car. We already did a few long bus trips before—to Zambales and Cabanatuan—and it’s always fun to see the everyday goings-on through our ride.

While on the road, my thoughts meandered to our Zambales farmland. We wanted to lease and develop it into a staycation place. A friend suggested a real estate agent and after talking to her a few times, she gave us a handwritten thank you card. I was actually surprised, people nowadays tend to use a more modern means of sending messages for automated real estate agent notes and letters. But I digress.

Victory Liner Olongapo

We arrived at the Olongapo City Bus Terminal at eight in the morning. We were quite early for our scheduled engagement so we hopped on a jeepney and went to Magsaysay Road which is famous for its lively night scene. Some of the shops, arcades, and clubs were still closed so we settled to Sam’s Pizza, a home-grown pizza parlor that started in 1976.

During my younger years, I remember how this was the go-to place for family gatherings, as well as for after late-night clubbing—since it used to be open 24 hours. We ordered their famous platter—which has pizza, chicken, spaghetti, and fries. Both of our meals came with glasses of iced tea. At around ₱220 per platter, it was just okay. We loved the pizza, but the rest were unremarkable.

Sam's Pizza Olongapo

We then headed to the church where my late uncle was blessed and then buried in the cemetery afterward. We then went inside SBMA and proceeded to Terrace Hotel where we shared lunch with our relatives and remembered our dearly departed uncle.


wesley united methodist church olongapo

After lunch, we went outside the hotel to the SBMA Beach. Akira was too excited that he asked if he could actually swim. We explained that there are beaches where we could swim and some that we could not because there might be some health risks, including this bay.

Subic Bay

He then asked if he could just probably play with sand to make a treasure map. We, of course, allowed him.

Christian and I were staring into the glittering afternoon sea when Akira shouted that he found a treasure. We all laughed as he handed me a shell and told me that I should keep it. He then went on with his treasure hunting.


Subic Bay

We spent more than an hour on that spot and Akira could’ve spent more, given the chance. But we told him that we needed to go on our next adventure.

We walked along the shore and explored more of Subic Bay. It’s weird that my parents’ hometown is in Zambales but that was my first time walking along the coast.

Subic Bay

We reached the far end and then went back down the road—heading to a grocery store. We called it PX Goods Store when I was younger which literally means a retail store in an army installation. SBMA was a US Naval Base until 1992, when the Philippine senate voted against hosting US bases in the country. We usually check out marked-down items when we go here but this time, we didn't find any interesting stuff.

After our quick stroll, we decided to go out of the SBMA zone and went back to Magsaysay Road.

The Magsaysay Road night scene was a stark contrast to when we arrived earlier. Hordes of people were milling about to shop, dine, or just wander around. It was a Saturday and surely, the whole stretch will turn into a wonderland of bars and clubs later.

It was almost dinnertime so we decided to dine in another of Olongapo City’s original fast food chains, Wimpy’s Restaurant. The restaurant/pub house opened its doors in 1982 and since then, it has been one of the go-to places for locals.

Wimpy's Olongapo City

We had some cheeseburgers, fries, and fried chicken. Everything was good but nothing was totally remarkable. What stood out was the item we got from their bakeshop, their version of Brazo de Mercedes. The bread was fluffy and tasty while the cream filling was not too sweet and had a hint of vanilla flavor.

Wimpy's Olongapo City

Filled up. We went back to the bus terminal and chanced upon a bus that was almost leaving. As soon as it rolled off, Akira dozed off—tired from our whole day Olongapo trip.

Looking at Akira while sleeping, I realized that in a child’s eye, going out is always an adventure. So whether we take a flight to Boracay or a simple jeepney to the market, it’s the new things that he sees and does that keep him yearning for more adventures.

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