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Parade & Closing Program of 1st Grand Reunion of Former US Base Workers

FESTIVITIES of the Former Base Workers’ Week ended yesterday with a kilometer-long parade from Magsaysay Drive in Olongapo City to the Subic Bay Freeport’s Remy Field where the closing program was held.

With the Olongapo City Marching Band on the lead and the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Band bringing up the rear, close to a thousand former base employees of various activities of the former US Naval Base in Subic braved the afternoon sun and aging legs carrying placards stating their advocacy of renewed US military presence for economic and national security reasons.

Former Base Workers, from the Ship Repair Facility (SRF) parade through the kilometer-long route from Magsaysay Drive in Olongapo City to the Subic Bay Freeport's Remy Field for the closing program of the week-long 1st Grand Reunion in 22 years since Subic Naval Base was closed. SBNphoto by Vic V. Vizcocho, Jr.

“This is the best that we can do for the country, in general,” said Ernesto Tawatao, co-chair of the 1st Grand Reunion of Former Employees of US Naval Base, Subic Bay, “we would like the world to know that this place was prosperous when the base was here and that China would not be bullying us now if US Naval forces never left Subic.”

Several thousand spectators lined the parade route, awed by the sight, and for others, the realisation that the Subic Bay Freeport was formerly a US Naval Base employing scores of Filipino workers and serving as the backbone of the local economy.

Former Base Workers, from Public Works Center (PWC) parade through the kilometer-long route from Magsaysay Drive in Olongapo City to the Subic Bay Freeport's Remy Field for the closing program of the week-long 1st Grand Reunion in 22 years since Subic Naval Base was closed. SBNphoto by Vic V. Vizcocho, Jr.

 

US Naval Base, Subic Bay was shut down in 1992 after the Philippine Senate rejected a treaty that would have extended US basing privileges in the country, triggering massive dislocation and unemployment that almost reduced Olongapo and neighboring communities into ghost towns.

“We want the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) enhanced. We want more US ships to visit Subic because it is not only good for the local economy but to national security, as well,” Roberto Flores, co-chair of the 2014 grand reunion and former president of the US base’s labor union. “If possible, have the constitution amended to lift the ban on basing of foreign military in the country,” Flores added.

A signature drive has been launched in conjunction with the reunion, calling for increased US military presence in the country, specially  Subic. (VVV)

Former Base Workers, from Navy Exchange/Naval Resale Activity (NRA), parade through the kilometer-long route from Magsaysay Drive in Olongapo City to the Subic Bay Freeport's Remy Field for the closing program of the week-long 1st Grand Reunion in 22 years since Subic Naval Base was closed. SBNphoto by Vic V. Vizcocho, Jr.

 

Former US Base workers closed their 1st Grand Reunion in 22 years with a parade and program at Remy Field, Subic Bay Freeport, part of the former US Naval Base now turned into a bustling freeport and economic zone. SBNphoto by Vic V. Vizcocho, Jr.
Olongapo City Mayor Rolen C. Paulino, a former US Base employee, marches with his colleagues in the kilometer-long parade from Magsaysay Drive to Remy Field in the Subic Bay Freeport for the closing ceremonies of the 1st Grand Reunion in 22 years of former US Base workers. SBNphoto by Vic V. Vizcocho, Jr.
Former Subic Naval Base Employees' 1st Grand Reunion co-chairman Roberto Flores at Remy Field, flanked by the majorettes of the Olongapo City Band. SBNphoto by Vic V. Vizcocho, Jr.
Former Base Workers parade through Remy Field, Subic Bay Freeport Zone after the kilometer-long march from Magsaysay Drive in Olongapo City for the closing program of the week-long 1st Grand Reunion in 22 years since Subic Naval Base was closed. SBNphoto by Vic V. Vizcocho, Jr.
Former Base Workers parade through the kilometer-long route from Magsaysay Drive in Olongapo City to the Subic Bay Freeport's Remy Field for the closing program of the week-long 1st Grand Reunion in 22 years since Subic Naval Base was closed. SBNphoto by Vic V. Vizcocho, Jr.
Former Base Workers, from Naval Supply Depot (NSD), parade through the kilometer-long route from Magsaysay Drive in Olongapo City to the Subic Bay Freeport's Remy Field for the closing program of the week-long 1st Grand Reunion in 22 years since Subic Naval Base was closed. SBNphoto by Vic V. Vizcocho, Jr.
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