It’s 2012 and things will likely change over the next few years when it comes to shopping locations in Olongapo City and the Subic Bay Freeport Zone (SBFZ). Things will, in fact, change drastically if the city mayor gets his way. Last year saw the opening of some new shopping venues and this year saw some more and I’ll mention them as I continue.
The only major change in Olongapo City proper is the replacement of the Olongapo City mall by SM City Olongapo. SM City Olongapo is a six-story building sitting in almost the exact same place as the former mall. I say almost because the base is bigger, with the top two floors being a paid parking garage. I think there’s one more floor above the 6th floor, but I don’t know if it’s another level of parking or if it’s something on the roof because the entrance to it is closed off. The mall “reopened” early this year.
Of course, many more new shopping venues will appear if the Olongapo City Mayor gets the special economic zone status of SBFZ extended to the entire city, modeling the city of Gumi, South Korea. The VAT would disappear in Olongapo City, encouraging more businesses to move into the city.
Subic Bay Freeport Zone
I can’t remember dates well, but I believe Pure Gold moved from their old location near the Royal Subic store into a newer, bigger building on a main road. Pure Gold resembles a Sam’s Club store in the US. On another note, regardless of what you may have heard, the “Home Depot” stores in the Philippines are not affiliated with the Home Depot stores in the US. Only the name is the same.
Last month saw the opening of “Harbor Point”, a shopping mall owned by the Ayala Land Corporation. It’s not even complete yet, and it’s packed with people during every hour it’s open. Only two of three floors are open and those two floors are still being worked on. The mall extends almost from the Magsaysay Gate to the Rizal Gate, along the inner perimeter.
I just returned from Manila after paying my US passport renewal fee and stopped by the SM City Pampanga mall in San Fernando, Pampanga to buy something that isn’t carried at SM City Olongapo. It dwarfs both the SM City Olongapo and the Harbor Point malls combined.
All of this will change. It has to change. The city itself has a population exceeding 300,000 and the infrastructure simply can’t support any more people.