COMMENTS AND SHORT
STORIES FROM EXPERIENCE
Over the years that this site has been open, I have had many comments and short stories sent to me from those who have experienced many things while stationed or passing through the Base of Subic Bay, Cubi Point and the outer areas. Being one that was never stationed in the Philippines during my tour in the Corps, deeply appreciates the comments and short stories that many have taken the time to tell. I thought that I might pass these comment along for you to read as well. No doubt, these will mean more to you that were there. If only one of these, jogs the memory of an experience that you had, it will make this small effort worth while. Hope you enjoy and thanks to those that took the time to share these with me!
1) Welcome To The Third World
On July 4, 1966 I landed in the same town, in which the Beatles were that very day, performing...Manila. My dad ,who was a civilian worker, ripped me from all that I had known in the states, to reside in a third-world country, with incredible crime (Marcos Era), and even more incredible humidity; all for the sake of enrolling me in the University of the Phillipines. At school I made friends, with whom I still communicate some 35 years later. We drank lots of beer, and even more beer, and when the love-light was on, we would go home to Olongapo. We hung out at the teen club on week-ends and with our long hair and beards, tried to avoid the ire of enlisted men in town. We were for all practicle purposes, hippies of the P.I., and we loved it. From 1966 until 1969, I , along with my friends and brother and countless others, from all over the states, were thrown together on this exciting island, and engaged in unbelievable bonding of spirit and soul. I think of the Philippines alot and consider my stay there the most memorable of my entire life.
2) Old West Bar
I remember the Old West bar on the left side of Magsaysay just about a block up the street. They had a guy who could tear up a fiddle doing Orange Blossom Special. They also had a singer who did pretty good on North to Alaska but, I would crack up when he came to the part about "the river is wide" because, of course, the way he did it it came out 'the reever is wide." A guy who owned that bar for a while works on the base with my wife.
3) The Sapango
Can't remember all the places we went in town, but there was The Sapango, and some bar with a crocodile sitting in a pond out front. Kids used to sell ducks to the drunk sailors, who would then toss them in with the crock. Most of the time the croc ignored the duck, the sailor left, and the kid snatched the duck back and sold it again.
4) Toby's Footwear, Olongapo
My father retired from the U.S. Navy in the mid 1960's, he then married my mother and open up his boot shop (Toby's Footwear) in along Magsaysay Drive and Rizal Avenue catering mostly to the U.S. servicemen. He was well known for the quality of boots that he makes that when I started selling his boots here in Denver in 1987, I would ocassionaly come across several former servicemen that have purchased from my Dad when they were in the Philippines.
My Dad loved selling boots and took the closure of the bases very seriously. After 24 years in the boot business, he passed away 2 months before Subic closed down. After the bases closed, I went back to the Philippines and see if I could somehow keep my Dad's business going without the U.S. servicemen. It was very tough, eventualy we had to close our shop after 1 year of the base closure. I decided to maintain the shoe factory intact and continue on importing the finish boots back to Denver. I sell at least 100 pairs a month on my spare time and very happy doing it. This way I'm reliving a little bit of both, my fathers memories and what use to be his shop in Olongapo City.
John Chapman. email@example.com
5) Hot Days
On hot days I think of the old 1622 Club in Olongapo and how they kept their beer in a chest type freezer. It would turn to slush when you poured it in the glass. I used to order them two at a time and the first two went down before I got my change back.
6) FRA club
I used to go down to the beach to the FRA club and sit out on the balcony and soak in suds and camaraderie. Sometimes at night, when closing time came around, they would just lock a bunch of us diehards in and go home. We would help ourselves to the beer and put the bottle capm in our pocket. When the fellows came around in the morning to open up we would tally the caps and pay up. Naturally, some folks began abusing the privilege and not paying for all the beer (at 20 cents for goodness sakes) so they quit letting us do it. Besides we were supposed to keep quiet and not attract attention and some yahoos couldn't keep from turning on a boom box or screaming some obscenity at the passing security patrol.
7) Subic City
There was the club out at Subic City that had a small indoor pool. It was a nasty thing, all slimy and green looking but, some folks would jump in now and then. The place had a nice patio outside, on the beach, and they kept the front doors wide open so there was always a nice draft blowing through. We used to get out there early enough on a Saturday morning to watch the ladies take their baths outside under the pumps and then we'd start roaming from place to place. That was the appeal of subic City back then, you could carry your beer from place to place and wander all over town. I didn't care for it much from April until July but, the rest of the year it was great.
8) Screen wire walls
The old days without air conditioning around Olongapo were better, in my opinion. The old Mom's Club had a big outdoor patio with an overhead going around the edges of it (for the rainy season) and we could sit out there under the stars and enjoy the entertainment. I remember many of the clubs just had screen wire for at least some of the walls (the Rio Club really comes to mind here). The 1622 had a front wall but, it was made of decorative concrete tile backed by screen wire. during the Vietnam thing the clubs were making enough money to put in air conditioning so all those screened in places put in solid walls. The problem was that Vietnam wound down and money got a bit tighter so they couldn't afford to run the air conditioners. That left a fellow sitting in a tightly closed space with no cooling, or even decent air flow. That's what made us like Subic City so much during the rainy season and the "winter" months. Their bars were still the old open type.
9) The Bands
I remember the bands from the old days. Do you remember when all the string instruments were acoustic? They often used a big 20 pound coffee can tied to a stick for a bass. They turned out some good music too.
10) Real Popular
I remember the ice cream vendors coming around to the bars. They sold itty bitty, tiny cones of some slushy stuff that resembled ice cream. The gals all loved it and for a dollar's worth of Centavos a fellow could make himself really popular. Most of the folks in the bar preferred halo-halo though. I guess the beans in it made it more of a meal. Talk about popular; I used to go in this one place called the Victoria club (1973-75) and it was right across from a bakery. About 2100, when the natives were hungry and restless the bakery started turning out those Pan de Sals (I know it has many spellings), little dinner roll type things that I love. For a few pesos I could buy a shopping bag about half full and that made me big man on campus around that club. I was so popular in that place that the girls often handed me their drink chips to hold for them while they were busy. Now, that's trust.
11) The Power
When we were in the P.I. we had a buddy who was an S.P. and drove a jeep around the area all the time. We used to take a flourescent light bulb and hold it next to the antenna on the jeep and tell the Filipino jeepney drivers that we had magic powers. We would rub the bulb, the S.P. would key his mike while we were holding the tubes end contacts about two inches from the antenna and the bulb would start to glow...They thought for sure that we had "The Power".
I know that those Typhoons are devastating to the indiginious personnel, but I loved them when I was there. Of course we had the strong, concrete barracks and other buildings and the excellant drainage etc, so we did not suffer as much as the native areas. I remember taking a jeepney from Cubi topside to the main gate and getting a ride in a row boat to my house in town a couple of times. The water was 2-3 feet deep down Manila ave. My house, on Caron street was on 4 foot stilts so we were high and dry. Cooked on a kerosene camp stove and had Coleman lanterns for lights so we were cozy.
13) Mojo and a drink called Bullfrog
Never really knew and probably don't want to know what mojo was made up from but it definitely set you 2 steps back from where you thought you were! Also had a drink called bullfrog. Both came by the pitcher and were pretty potent. Mojo was redish in color and bullfrog was sorta clear with a 7up look. Both would mess you up equally well. I don't remember it from my earlier years in the PI but around 80/81 most libraries would make it and was a favorite of the librarians
14) Bullfrog Grog......
2.o2 liter of Lemon Line Soda
6.0 Cans of Beer
0.5 Gal of Sherbet Lime
6.0 Cans of Limeade
0.5 Gal of Vodka
Mix all ingredients in a large cooler or punch bowl. Sherbet mixes better if softened first. Use small cans limeade frozen concentrate.
15) Mojo....... the following info taken off the back of an old T-Shirt from "The Stoned Crow".
1 Pint Rhum
1 Pint Cherry Brandy
1 Beer (San Miguel Of Course)
1 Big Glass Pineapple Juice
1/2 Pint Rhum
1/2 Pint Cherry Brnady
1 Beer (San Miguel Of Course)
1 7 Up
1/2 Big Glass Pineapple Juice
Of course it must be noted that this fine drink can only be consumed in the sitting position, and you must warn them not to stand up to quickly, or the floor will find them very fast.
16) Rio Club
Seen the picture of the Rio which really brought back some memories. That was always one of my Olongapo hangouts. Even got all my haircuts in the barber shop there. What service. I remember the upstairs being a big sub sailor hangout and when they all had to go back to the ship with Cinderella the pickings were pretty nice. And the veranda outside along the river was always nice for a nap if you had a long day.
17) The Yellow Bar
The Yellow Bar. A life experience not to be missed. And if you ran out of money or just needed to rest awhile the girls were glad to let you in the card game to pass the time. They'd even loan you taxi money to get home on. There was another one in the same neighborhood but a little harder to find called George's or Wayne's or something. In this case the rooms were connected to the bar so you didn't have to go out in the rain and they'd let you take your motorcycle inside the bar to avoid theft while you were, well whatever you were doing. Filipino hospitality at it's finest.
Then there was Teddy's in Ermita where you could play chess with the girls and win a free night out. Can't remember ever winning a free one but the price was always right anyway.
The term butterfly was in full operation in Olongapo when I got there. The thing that always amazed me was the telegraph system in town. You could have a honey-ko at the first place out the gate and you might try to score on a girl clear out at the other end of town and the girls would know you were already seeing some one and refuse your advances and brand you a "butterfly". How they knew you were already seeing someone is almost as mystical as how they knew when the fleet was arriving.
Paulines was my hangout for a while. I used to sit on the balcony and watch the girls toss lanzone peels on the sailors below. I remember that Song, Portrait of My Love, or something like that was always on the danged juke box. I got real tired of that song. On a later tour there was the new Paulines down the street, the one with the crocodile pit outside.
20) The Tip Of The Nose
A bunch of us went into a bar and sat down at a table. A bunch of little honeys came swarming over and each guy had one, but I refused them all, being married and all. This one gal sitting across from me with one of the guys was asking why I didn't have a girl. The guy she was sitting with said, "He's a cherryboy." The gal looked hard at me for a couple of seconds, then reared up and reached across the table and put her finger on the end of my nose, and in a voice that would have been a credit to the crustiest old bosun', said, "BULLSHIT!" Wish I knew what it was that they felt that they would not feel on a genuine virgin?!
21) Shit River
Ah, yes! Do I ever remember shit river! I was chased on foot from around the Open Market to the Rio Club by the Olongapo police one evening. I ran into the Rio looking for some buddies that often hung out there. No luck. I had two options, go out the back and jump into Shit River and swim for it, or go to the Olongapo jail. I chose jail! Now if only there could be a scratch and sniff digital!! That would really remind one of shit river!
22) Out To Late At Night
I once experienced being out too late in Olongapo without an overnight pass, so I hired a jeepney to take me back to San Miguel at about 1 am in the morning. Woke up just in time to stop him from taking me right up to the gate. Worked my way through the village and waded the river under the bridge by the CPO club to get in.
23) The Whole Way Of Life
I was there in 1976, and yes, it was the best 6 months of my life. Not just the tempo or the girls but the whole way of life. Also met some great people there usually friends of the girls. The girls were great because they were like having a wife or girlfriend on a temp basis to take away the stress. Keep in mind, I say this with all due respect to those wonderful ladies. Through one girl, I met a former WW2 guerilla. He took me to where he fought, which was right outside of Olongapo. He also took me to where he watched, as a young boy, our veterans march in the Batann Death March. When I looked in his eyes, I see the revulsion and fear he still had over what he witnessed.
24) 45 RPM record
My best buddy's girlfriend in the states sent a 45 RPM record to him to play in the barracks, but we didnt have a good record player, so we took it out to town and had them put it on the Juke Box at the Cosmos Restaurant, as we ate there a lot and usually got started on the San Miguel there before we got into the serious drinking for the night.....The only bad thing about that was, WE HAD TO PAY TEN CENTAVOS TO HEAR OUR OWN RECORD....well worth it though.
25) Club called the Rialto
I remember a club in the years (60-75) that was called the Rialto, which you may recognize as Spanish for "star". I lived in an apartment compound behind it for a while, right on the river. Whew - talk about rats. We had some suckers that would pick up a San Miguel bottle and protect their territory. One, really drunk night, my foot apparently got out from under the mosquito netting and it was chewed up pretty good. I couldn't imagine what had happened until my mahal explained. Anyway it was a big two story place almost directly across the street from the Rio. I didn't go there much but I do remember a honey named Lynn.
26) Wallet in the Jeepney
In 1982 I boarded a red jeepney heading for my girl friend's house on Otero Ave in Mabayuan. I quickly noticed I was only one of two people on board the Jeepney. The Filipino man riding in the back with me asked me several questions about my wallet. Where did you buy your wallet? What color is your wallet? Do you have pictures in your wallet? As a stupid young Sailor, I took my wallet out of my pocket and then I suddenly caught on to the con. I yelled for the traffic Cop (standing nearby) and he came aboard the Jeepney and started to kick the crap out of the con man. The police officer was also yelling at the driver and the con man in the back of the jeep saying: PUCKING *&^*&^% station ditto Sailor, ***&@@ station ditto Sailor. The next thing I observed ... hundreds of pesos flying in the direction of the cop. The driver and his con man buddy became extremely cooperative and they even gave me a free ride to Otero Ave.
27) The biggest hair brush I have ever seen.
Seven or Eight of us were sitting in a local watering hole on Magsaysay enjoying the cold San MaGoo and the companianship of several sweethearts. This one exceptionally endowed girl walked by our table and I just happened to reach out and snap her bra. She turned around and had the biggest hair brush I have ever seen a woman carry and smacked the living crap out of the poor guy sitting next to me!! Everyone else was howling and this guy wanted to really get in her face. I don't think I told him the rest of the story until he was about to leave the PI several months later.
28) Invited to the U.S. Ambassador's home
We were invited to the U.S. Ambassador's home for Thanksgiving. That was a memorable occasion. We were seated with dignitaries from other countries discusing 'world affairs' and current events which was of interest to me. Being in charge of the crews library, I was able to read all the latest magazines and was able to keep up with current events and world affairs.
29) Part'in in the Po
Was on the Big "E" for WestPac 82-83. I was a CT out of the OS division . We spent a total of 4 weeks in Subic - Olongapo. 1 week in October, then back out to sea, and then hit Subic again on the way home for 3 weeks in Feb. Amazing how the girls knew when we would be back around for our second visit. They knew almost to the minute! Our first day in port, we hit the base bowling alley and wiped out the beer. Made our way over Shit River Bridge and the SR Princess's (Throw me Peso, I show you Tit!), and hung a right down Gordon BLVD to Sunni's, where the CT's and Seabees hung out. We proceeded to put a serious hit on the San Magoo! The CT's had the back bar, while the Seabees ran the front. Sunni's had an upstairs bar on the 3rd floor with hotel rooms on the 2nd. Think there were 6 rooms total. Very cool. After a couple of weeks, we were allowed to run the back bar. Mama-san trusted us enough to where she could go out for the day. Plus, it wasn't hard to find out where we lived anyway! Back then, the exchange rate was 10 to 1, so our Magoos were clipping along at 35 cents apiece. Getting blasted for under 10 bucks was amazing. As for the Girls of Olongapo? I have yet to see so many beautiful women, regardless of what country, concentrated in such a small area. I do NOT know how so many lived there for the duration of their tours. I really needed the rest after we put back out to sea. It took me 3 days to recover. I wuda gone back in a heartbeat!
We partied in 1966 in a bar called "White House" club which at that time was in an upstairs....the building was not built very solid as the floor shook at times when we got to shaking it up.
31) Red Mud
Spent a lot of time in Subic Bay and the crew spent a lot of time at the White House Bar. I was first there in 1965 before they paved the main drag. Then, the street was nothing but red mud (during monsoons) with Jitneys sliding all over the place. A sailors whites bell bottoms were quickly ruined and stained red from the knees down. It reminded me of the old wild west towns.
32) Once Across The Famous River.
Once across the famous river, there was a large open lot at the right hand side of the bridge, and it was filled with an assortment of brightly painted jeepneys, each of which was more than ready to transport us to whereever we wanted to go. There were in those times a few restrictions on just where the liberty party could be. For instance, it was forbibden to be in a private residence, a tatoo parlor, a house of ill repute, or for that matter just about anyplace off the two main streets, Magasaysay, and Rizal. Kinda limited us to a small location, but the entertainment was sure not limited at all.
33) OK... who was it?
In 1973 I was assigned to the 7th fleet shore patrol hard hats. One afternoon when reporting to work at the AFP building outside the gate, there was one pissed off Joe with a model airplane, standing around trying to extort some "compensation for his problem". It seems as if he had a lovely home down by Shit River and his wife was doing dishes by the window when this radio controlled plane got away from its owner on base and fiew in their window and dinged her in the head. Anybody out there wanna fess up?
34) Caring for beer
I gave up drinking beer out in town in 1985 and switched to Rum and Coke cause it was impossible for Joe to figure out how to care for beer. They would take it and put it in chest freezers, freeze it, thaw it out, freeze it again and sell it due to all the brown outs. If you want to duplicate this, leave a case of beer in the trunk of your car, drive around with it there for a week or so and then freeze it, put it in the sun in your back yard to thaw out and then when some friends stop by for a cold one, serve it to them in a mug with some ice cubes you have made from the water in your toilet and tell me it tastes good. Its just like my old friend who was the King of the Barrio Hosers used to say. "You can take Joe out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the Joe" and most Joes dont drink beer on a regular basis, except in Olongapo, cause when you go to the boonies, the favorites are Tuba and Ginebra. San Miguel, as beer, is a luxery and they really dont know how to handle it.
35) A good time was had by all
I was never there on Christmas, in fact in 1974 we pulled into PI the day after Christmas and I spent the next 6 months there and spent New Years Eve in the Moons Bar, which at the time was owned by Tom Connoly, who also owns Ts Tavern and was a member of our det in fact that January 16 I made second class and all of us who made rate on the det had a 2 day hosex out at the Zoo Bar which Tom also owned at the time. Nowdays, we would all be locked up for such antics, but our det OINC, who was a Warrent, was right there with us, and a good time was had by all.
36) To the tune of "Kansas City Blues"
I used to go in the Cork Room in those early days and there was a QM2 named Anderson who got out of the navy off the Oriskany and who used to play acoustic guitar there at the cork room (only "Kano" to play there). He did a blues in "E" to the tune of "Kansas City Blues" only he called it Olongapo City Blues which I still sing and play today. The words are:
I'm going to Olongapo City, Olongapo City
here I come
Yeah, Olongapo City, Olongapo City here I come
I hear they got alot of nice lokkin girls out there
I think I'm goin to find me one
Well, I might take a train I might take a
But if I gotta cross shit river I'm going to do it just the same
Because Olongapo City, Olongapo City here I come
I here there's alot of nice looking girls out there, I think
I'm goiing to bar fine me one.
Well, I'm standing on the corner of
Yes I'm standing on the corner of Magasaysay/Rizal
With my Olongapo City Honey-ko, a bottle of San Miguel
Cause I love Olongapo City, Olongapo City I do love
I met a some real nice looking girls out here
And I went and married me one..................
37) Afable Medical Clinic
In 1988 when I visited the upscale Afable medical clinic in Olongapo to get a trobocin shot rather than hassle with the bases bullshit, the folks there all reused their disposable latex gloves even if we own it I think it would still leave a lot to be desired, in a way I kind of liked some aspects as I was able to smoke anywhere in the place and had a camel hanging on my lip when they gave me a shot in the ass, no ashtrays just stomp em out on the deck as it gives the "BOY" something to do.
38) HMAS Melbourne visiting Subic
I was a crew member of the Aussie carrier HMAS Melbourne visiting Subic several times in '62 and '64. We had a great relationship with our American friends. In '62 we had exercised with the carriers USS Bennington and HMS Ark Royal (British), plus many other smaller ships. I remember going to Olongapo from Cubi Point in the cattle trucks, and drinking very cheap San Mig in glasses with ice (very little refrigeration at the clubs), and just about every club had a band playing live. We spent a lot of time also at Manila (anchored off) and were transported ashore in huge landing craft. The return journey was confusing with several sailors being offloaded at the wrong ship each night. I often wonder how I am still alive following experiences during runs ashore in the Philipines. Some of our crew ignored official advice and used the money changers just outside the gate at Subic, and found they had purchased huge wads of Japanese Occupation money (the Second World War had been over for 17 years my first visit). All the best to our US friends
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