In the early 1990’s natural and manmade disasters like the Mt. Pinatubo eruption and the removal of the US bases struck the city. Other places would have found it difficult to overcome the crisis. But Olongapo managed to rise up with dignity and pride through the spirit of volunteerism ingrained in the hearts and minds of every Olangapeño. A strong cooperation and partnership had been developed between the thousands of volunteers and the determination to make Olongapo a progressive and safe place for its residents. Each volunteer had their own inspiring stories to tell. The housewives initially volunteered as Balikatan ladies working in the government hospitals as nursing aides. They received no compensation from the government. They even brought their own food when they were on duty and provided their own uniforms. The government workers volunteered during weekly clean up drives. Vendors cleaned their own areas in the public market. Each one is doing her/his share in bringing progress to the city.
The Olongapenos have internalized volunteerism as a way of life. The tide of volunteerism continues to rise with the participation of every Olongapeno, the NGOs and the business sector. Projects like “Good Samaritan” emerged as a response to the call of the city government to help the indigents. The volunteers of Olongapo also reached out to other areas in the country who suffered from natural calamities and disasters. Through the volunteers, the infrastructure and equipment left by the Americans in Subic valued at US$ 8 billion were protected and preserved. Through the joint efforts of the volunteers and the political leaders, Subic was declared a free port genecating 53,000 jobs.
This program is recognized as a Trailblazing Program, a finalist for the 1997 Galing Pook Awards.