Shopping at SBMA in Olongapo

I live in the Baloy Beach area of Barrio Barretto, Olongapo. We have a small market area that has great fresh vegetables, rice, and some very basic home goods. There is also a small grocery store with basic food items, and there is also a 7-11 store. We have several pharmacies, and there are numerous little sari-sari stores. We also have two general merchandise stores that have basic plumping supplies and so on.

When we really want to shop and stock up on food or other merchandise, we take a trip to the old navy base in Olongapo. The Subic Bay Freeport (SBMA) has several excellent stores that provide many of the same products we have become accustomed to in the US, Britain, Australia and other locations. I’ll give some basic descriptions now, and when I have a chance to go and take photos and write down some notes, I’ll write expanded articles about the major stores.

The main shopping centers are Royal Subic, The Freeport Exchange, Pure Gold Duty Free, National Bookstore, and American Hardware.

Royal Subic is the largest store in Subic. It is built in three large sections, carrying imported and local housewares, grocery items, and clothing. They have a large selection of grocery items, and there is a small bakery on-site. Royal Subic is a great place to shop for brand name clothing, as most are overruns (with some factory seconds) making them very low cost. Royal would be considered the “high end” shopping center at SBMA, with generally better merchandise. This doesn’t necessarily mean everything is better: I couldn’t find a set of silverware that was worth the packaging, and their selection of bed sheets, towels, etc, leave a bit to be desired. If you want one-stop shopping, start here.

Royal Duty Free Shop, Inc.
Location Subic Bay Freeport Zone
Address 1109 Palm St., Subic Bay Freeport Zone
Description Duty-free shop
Phone (63 47) 252-3258/59
Fax (63 47) 894-1555

Freeport Exchange: This is the “middle ground” for shopping in Subic. They have two basic areas, one for groceries and one for, well, everything else. I like shopping for food here, as they have some things that you won’t find in the other stores. The grocery section is relatively small, with dry goods, canned foods, a small dairy section and a lot of local items. I really like the Freeport Exchange for hardware items, like bathroom fixtures, curtain rods, and electronic/electrical hardware and tools. They have a good selection of plumbing items like toilet repair parts and fittings, and they also have voltage regulators, a huge selection of light bulbs, and lighting fixtures.

Freeport Exchange
Location Subic Bay Freeport, Zambales
Address Bldg. 640, Sampson Rd., Subic Bay Freeport
Description Variety
Phone (63 47) 252-6411

Pure Gold Duty Free: This is a huge warehouse type store with a very large selection of grocery items, and a few selections of clothing and other household goods. Hands-down the best breakfast cereal selection in the Freeport. I usually do the bulk of my grocery shopping here, then fill in at the other stores if needed. Pure Gold also has the best prices for grocery items, though the difference is relatively small. I like the meat selection here, and they have a good baked goods section with lots of fresh bread and local items.

Puregold Duty Free Subic
Location Subic Bay Feeport Zone
Address Subic Bay Freeport Zone
Description duty-free store
Phone (63 47) 522-8801 / 524-1313

National Bookstore: Offers books and many magazines, and a small cafe. I found Popular Photography and some excellent travel magazines here. They have a good selection of school supplies and printer cartridges, and you can pick up basic computer accessories like CD/DVD disks. They’ll order books for you, so you can save a few bucks on shipping them into the country yourself. National Bookstore is directly across the huge parking lot from Royal Subic.

National Bookstore
Location Subic Bay Freeport, Zambales
Address Bldg. 156, cor. Bonifacio Drive & Quezon St., Subic Bay Freeport
Description Books, greeting cards, school and office supplies
Phone (63 47) 252-3608/3609

American Hardware: A hardware store where all of the products are imported from the United States. They have many items that are very rare in the Philippines including a good range of power tools (yeah!). They also operate a car wash right next to the store. American Hardware is right next door to Royal Subic, so it’s great to drop the car off at the car wash, do my shopping, and come back to a freshly washed, waxed and detailed car. I even found a decent selection of reading glasses, which proved to be very hard to find outside of the Freeport.

American Hardware
Location Subic Bay Freeport, Zambales
Address Duty Free Shop, Palm St., Subic Bay Freeport
Description Household items
Phone (63 47) 252-7477

Generally speaking, when I shop on base, I hit all the stores. I start with the National Bookstore, then hit American Hardware, then I go food shopping at Pure Gold, and if I need anything else, I’ll hit Royal or the Freeport Exchange.

One thing that is sorely lacking is a good place to shop for electronics, as in stereos and cameras. Maybe Best Buy should build a store here. hint hint. We could also use a Walmart 🙂

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6 Responses

  1. jack November 4, 2011 at 9:10 am #

    are there any pharmacies in the “on-base” shops?? I am looking for the
    herb TAWA TAWA – either in the powder or tea form. Thanks

    • admin November 4, 2011 at 7:36 pm #

      Yes! There is a small pharmacy inside Royal Shopping Center, towards the “fancy clothing” end of the store. There’s also a Metro pharmacy next door to the back entrance to Pure Gold. I can’t comment specifically on Tawa Tawa, though. Good luck, and thanks for asking here!

      You might want to join the message forum at – you can ask questions in the Subic Bay forum and will get a lot of answers from some very experienced people. Note: this message forum caters to adults, so be prepared.

  2. Amy November 24, 2011 at 8:10 pm #

    Hi, can you tell me if it’s worth coming up from Manila for the duty-free shopping at Subic Bay Freeport? Is it that much cheaper with the tax free and plus some of the products are factory over runs etc?


    • admin November 24, 2011 at 8:46 pm #

      Hi Amy, and thanks your posting your question on Subic Bay Living.

      I can’t think of a single reason you would come here from Manila for shopping. You won’t save any money – the “duty free” stores generally have higher prices than the local stores. The benefit you get, if you shop only in this area, is a much better selection of goods. Olongapo/Subic doesn’t have any big malls, and only a few electronics stores, for example. Prices are higher because there’s not much competition.

      This is going to change next year – there are two big malls being built in Olongapo – SM and Ayala, I believe. They are supposed to open in 2012 – let’s wait and see.

      Most of the local expat residents take shopping trips to Angeles City or Manila to buy things they can’t find here, or to get better deals. I go to Angeles City or Manila to buy camera accessories. I can order lenses and other things here, but the prices are outrageous! No one here stocks anything, so it’s all special order, and no discounts.

  3. JHEY January 13, 2012 at 5:42 am #






  4. Carmen September 5, 2016 at 6:20 pm #

    Hi, is there a membership required to shop at the warehouse

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