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Subic gets ready for heavy visitor turnout this Lent

SUBIC BAY FREEPORT, April 12 — In anticipation of the surge of visitors here during the Lenten season, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) is taking steps to bring ease and convenience to visitors who will be spending their Holy Week in this Freeport and the nearby communities.

Raul Marcelo, SBMA deputy administrator for business development, said the SBMA will open tourist information booths around the free port from Holy Wednesday to Easter Sunday (April 20-24) to provide assistance to Subic visitors and motorists.

These booths will be located at the Tipo highway, the free port’s sentry plaza, near the Starbucks outlet at Subic’s Argonaut corner Rizal highways, and at the Total gasoline station across the Subic Bay Yacht Club.

With the expected medium to heavy traffic along some of the major roads here, the SBMA Law Enforcement Department (LED) also advised motorists that the freeport’s main gate leading to Magsaysay Avenue in Olongapo City is still closed to all types of vehicles and that only pedestrians are allowed to use it.

In lieu of this, vehicles may enter/exit at the Rizal Gate or 14th St. Gate, both of which will remain open 24 hours daily.

Meanwhile, the Kalaklan Bridge going to Zambales will be re-opened temporarily to light vehicles only from April 16 to 24. Pedestrians may continue to enter/exit through the bridge as usual.

According to the SBMA tourism department, the week-long Lenten season program at Subic Bay comes back-to-back with national and international sports competitions that have already become traditional summer attractions here.

Marcelo said the inclusion of sports events with Subic’s time-honored Lenten traditions is designed to add “some contemporary activities to appeal to a wider range of audience.”

“So aside from the somber rites of the Holy Week, we will have an Easter egg hunt for children, musical concert for teenagers, triathlon and biking for sports enthusiasts, and Santacruzan for the culture type," Marcelo added.

The traditional Lenten rites in Subic will include the “Pabasa,” which is the chanting of the life, passion and death of Jesus Christ; processions on Holy Wednesday and Good Friday; the Last Supper Mass and Washing of the Apostles' Feet on Maundy Thursday; the Stations of the Cross and Veneration of the Cross on Good Friday; Easter Vigil on Black Saturday; and the “Salubong” on Easter Sunday.

Other special Lenten activities are the “Visita Iglesia” at the St. Augustine Cathedral in Iba, Zambales; and a healing concert on Black Saturday.

Meanwhile, sports competitions slated at the Subic Bay Freeport this summer will start with the Annual Kick Sand Tournament organized by the Beach Football Association on April 16 and 17.

This will be followed by Padyak Pinoy’s Le Tour de Filipinas 2011 on April 17, 19 and 20; the ITU Triathlon Asian Cup and the Subic Bay International Marathon from April 30 to May 1; the Subic Mountain Bike Festival on May 1; the Labor Day “Freeport Games and Sports” organized by the SBMA Labor Department on May 1; the 1st Pinoy Cup Level 3 PPSA-Sanctioned Pistol Competition on May 26-29; and Gravity Games Asia’s Subic Bay Downhill Freeride on May 28.

Special summer presentations this year include the Subic Bay Auto Show on April 8; the Couples for Christ-FFL World Youth Congress, April 15-17; the “Farmers Market at the Waterfront” products fair, April 22; and the Subic Bay Grand Santacruzan and Serenade Night sometime in May. (PNA)

DCT/LDV/zst/MD/ps

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