SBMA chief cites Subic volunteers, hails new heroes

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — After more than 8,000 volunteers preserved the former Subic Naval Base 25 years ago and facilitated the growth of what would become the country’s premier free port, new heroes have since stepped up to take the cudgels for “malasakit” and sustain Subic’s economic miracle, Subic’s chief executive said on Friday.

In a speech during the commemoration of Subic’s founding anniversary here, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman and Administrator Wilma T. Eisma cited the contributions of past and present volunteers and urged them to always stick together as one Subic community, regardless of when they got on board.

“Being a volunteer myself, I know for some reason that the volunteers of 25 years ago have this invisible bond,” Eisma said as she reminisced about sharing “baon” lunches with Subic workers in the early days of Subic.

“But let us not forget that Subic is not just about the volunteers,” she said. “Many heroes have risen since the day of the volunteers, since the very first heroes,” she went on.

“Many, many, many heroes have risen from what SBMA is today. We have evolved into an army of many volunteers, of many heroes,” she added.

“Those who come anyway on a weekend to work, those who come anyway on a weekend to volunteer, the hundreds and hundreds of people from Olongapo, Bataan and Zambales who come for coastal clean-up in a day’s notice, we have also developed a kind of bond with each other somehow because of our love for Subic, because of our hope and dreams that we will bring Subic to a new frontier many, many years from now,” Eisma also said.

Eisma, who won just last week a silver trophy in the 15th annual Stevie Awards for Women in Business in New York City, led the Subic anniversary rites at the Volunteers Shrine here, where the names of the original Subic volunteers were etched in stone.

The commemoration ceremony kicked off a two-day program for the 26th SBMA anniversary celebration that would be capped by the ceremonial lighting of the SBMA Christmas tree and the start of a music festival at the Boardwalk Events Center here.

In her speech, the SBMA executive also urged various stakeholders in Subic to work together and create a better, more cohesive Subic Freeport community.

“We have come such a long way. Now, we have more dreams. Let’s not refer to the old volunteers and the new volunteer because we are from Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, we are from Subic Bay Freeport Zone,” she reminded the audience.

Eisma also stressed that “malasakit” or concern for one another is the only way for Subic to go and grow.

“We are one community and that’s what we should be,” she said. “We should always be together because we are stronger that way. We are better together.”

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