SBMA recalls past struggles in building PHL’s first free port

Senator Richard G. Gordon, opens an SBMA memorabilia exhibit at the Harbor Point Ayala Mall during the SBMA 25th Anniversary Celebration last Nov. 24. Assisting him are, from left: former SBMA COO Rodolfo “Inky” Reyes; SBMA Directors Julita Manahan, Maria Cecilia Bobadilla-Bitare and Benny Antiporda; former SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza; SBMA Senior Deputy Administrator for Operations Mar Sanqui; and SBMA Port Marketing manager Ronnie Yambao.

Hundreds of former volunteers and current employees and officials of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) on Friday recalled the hardship they overcame in building the first Philippine free port and renewed their commitment for a sustainable and more progressive Subic.

In a ceremony graciously attended by former heads of the agency, participants and guests in the culminating activity of the month-long SBMA 25th Anniversary Celebration remembered momentous events since Subic Bay Freeport was established in 1992.

Foremost among the images evoked here was the historic time when the Stars and Stripes was lowered for the last time in this former American military base, and an enormous 20-by-40 foot Philippine banner was raised.

SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma Eisma led in unveiling a marker for the country’s biggest national flag here, she reminded everyone of the parallelism between the struggles for national independence and the sacrifices made by SBMA volunteers to forge a brighter and better future for the community and the nation.

Among those who arrived to remember Subic’s historic past were SBMA’s founding chairman and administrator and now Senator Richard J. Gordon; former Chairman and Administrator Felicito C. Payumo, who succeeded Gordon; former Administrator Armand C. Arreza; and former Chairman and Administrator Roberto V. Garcia.

Gordon, in his message at the unveiling of the SBMA memorabilia here, indicated the continuing concern of former SBMA officials for the Subic Freeport and revealed some level of cooperation among them. He said that he and Payumo share their endorsement of the proposed underground road network that would interconnect Subic with Manila.

A tribute to Subic volunteers that was held at the Volunteers Shrine became the culminating event of the month-long celebration that began last Nov. 6.




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