Like several other regional locations currently experiencing the 6% growth the country is fumbling through, Barrio Barretto in Olongapo is slowly starting to transform as well. You may not have been down that way for a while, but the area is moving in the upward direction in terms of food, accommodation, and entertainment options.
In some ways, National Highway is Angeles’ version of MacArthur Highway. I remember visiting both locations during my first trip to the Philippines in March of 2006. One night, I walked from the old Citibank near the Diamond Subdivision to the end of Walking Street in Angeles, and on the same trip I walked from White Rock Resort halfway between Barretto and Subic Town to Barretto.
There were businesses open along the way in both cases, albeit limited and somewhat skeptical options. I don’t know about you, but every time I get to a new place I tend to walk around to get an idea of what’s really on the ground. Riding a motorbike and driving are swell, but it’s too easy to miss things. Take for example Rodolfo’s Café and coffee shop behind the current Converge Office on MacArthur Highway (near Johnny’s Supermarket). They have great coffee, ice cold air-conditioning, and it’s quiet enough to carry a conversation – and yet you might not know it’s even there. The same goes for Wild Herbs on National Highway in Barretto – perhaps the best small restaurant in a 5-mile radius and if the rain hadn’t forced me off the highway one night I might not have seen it.
In Barretto there is a nice choice of beachfront resorts between Blue Rock and Wild Orchid on Baloy Beach, and Arizona Beach Resort, which is one of the first properties you see upon arriving to town. There’s also a litany of smaller hotels and bungalows up and down the strip.
The typical local-infrastructure lacks sidewalks or crosswalks, therefore you find yourself strolling the highway and playing a real-life game of “human Frogger” instead, and for obvious reasons it’s usually a more comfortable walk after the sun goes down. Check out some of the places along the highway starting at either Arizona and walking towards Baloy or vice versa. Chances are you’re going to find a nice place to mingle, imbibe, or nosh.
After you’ve had your walk, rent a motorbike or car and cruise around SBMA or Olongapo. The base is smaller than Clark and easier to navigate, and has a litany of options to choose from as well.