When I came to Olongapo, I was very hopeful. I just had a daughter, her mom is a native Olongapena, and I decided to go there to start a new life.
It’s a bustling city yet with a small town feel. The night life is not as good as Manila but having been a fan of live bands, I almost immediately fell in love with it. The city is host to a few rock bands that became famous.
On a regular morning, you’ll be woken up by an easy to remember child-like music coming from a moving vehicle. At first, I thought it was some music coming from a rolling candy store, but really it was coming from the garbage trucks.
The whole city is good to the eyes, with color-coded public transportation driven by uniformed drivers with the identification cards dangling up front where the hanging rosary usually is.
At the main gate where most people go through to get to work inside the Freeport, you’ll be welcomed by the always smiling face of Daddy Daddy, a little old fellow who would want your spare change for a little fun. On the other side of the road, you can see Tyson doing his dance routine, dancing his best to the tune of Macarena.
Come night time, Magsaysay Avenue was like your “strip” of live venues, cafes and bars. The cork room was an instant hit mainly because of their regular folk singer named Art. There we could just eat, relax, drink, laid back and just listen to the soothing mellow sounds of Art’s voice and his small karaoke-like gadget.
One time I saw Dick Gordon hanging outside in front of the movie theater smoking or was he just chewing a tobacco, much like FVR.
Olongapo was all fun. That’s all it would be until your apathy wears out. Once you started to care about taxes, policies, politics, you better be on the right side. And that would be the way of the ruling clan.
I got my first Olongapo experience when along with John, an old comrade who’s a native of Olongapo and the Social Action Center, we helped save a small community in Barangay Kalalake from demolition.
And then it just naturally went from there. We started doing what we do best, organizing communities and people’s organizations, educating them on their rights, and tapping resources from available NGOs.
But then I also started to question. Why, with all the people we come across with, they complain about issues but when asked them to report it to the proper authorities, they wouldn’t?
After a while, I figured it all out. They were afraid to come forward. They just won’t. They were hoping and waiting for somebody else to do it. I smelled something.
And so I asked, is there a culture of fear?