Olongapo-Subic Bay Retrospective

Olongapo-Subic Bay Retrospective

Postby JOHNNY SEATTLE » Mon Jun 17, 2013 5:47 pm

Passing the headlands and entering the bay. The sky was a the piercing blue color seen in the lower latitudes. The landscape was mountainous reflecting it's volcanic origins. The browns and verdant green of the lush vegetation and rocky crags fascinated the eye. The heat was oppressive in the noonday sun which combined with the high humidity would normally drive one inside seeking air conditioned relief yet all lingered with their gaze fixed upon their destination.

The tugs arrived to welcome their guest and see her safely positioned at the wharf. Excitement amongst the crew was tangible. Hopefully the brow would be placed before sailors overcome by their desire might begin jumping ashore. And then that awaited announcement was made, "Liberty Call"! Within short order, those authorized departed the ship bound for an evening's adventure ashore leaving their unfortunate mates who had 'Duty' behind.

Very few would slow down before exiting the 'Base'. The town began where the base ended after a short walk across a bridge covering a drainage canal dug by the Spanish many years before. The Sailors had long ago given it a nickname reflecting its pungent odor. While passing over this pathway to enjoyment, small boats and children would call out asking for pesos to be tossed which they would eagerly dive for. How they avoided deathly deseases was a mystery. If a sailor were unfortunate enough to fall into this 'waterway of filth', a trip to sick bay for numerous shots was to follow.

Some would begin their search for entertainment in town without going further. The streets were lined with open air vendors, restaurants, bars and clubs. Later in the evening the clubs would feature local R&R Bands which were popular for their ability to provide an authentic Rock experience. Inside these establishments one would find that magical elixir sought by salts of the far east, 'San Miguel' Beer. Served in small brown bottles and at ice cold temperature, it was the best relief for the aforementioned climate. After imbibing a few of these, all the stress of the journey evaporated. Accompanying these refreshments was a a staff of lovely sirens whose smiles beguiled and charmed. Many a liaison ensued.

Others had further destinations in mind. Walking along the street inhaling the mixture of diesel fumes and charcoal and avoiding pickpockets they boarded that ubiquitous public transportation so iconic of that land. After a short ride, they changed to other brightly colored open air diesel powered chariots for the remainder of their journey. Bouncing along poorly paved roads in the company of locals they left the town and followed the shoreline of the bay passing occasional sari-sari stores and seeing an occasional Nipa Hut and small clusters of homes. Stops were made as needed to unload and load passengers. Pesos and centavos changed hands being passed forward by the passengers and the change passed back as the rider exited from the rear stepping down.

Then they arrived at the 'Barrio Barreto'. A stretch of open air bars, restaurants and 'Hotels' catering to the frequent customers arriving aboard ships. Further down the road for the more adventurous was Subic City where 'Marilyn' and her girls awaited. It was a 'laid back' slow paced atmosphere. Country Western was most likely being played on some ancient jukebox. A few pool tables were usually provided along with the requisite 'San Miguel' and feminine hospitality. Hopping off the 'Jeepney' and entering their favorite establishment, they spotted their shipmates already there.

The next few days would consist of all forms of manly relaxation and hedonistic delights stopping only briefly for short periods of rest. Finally after they had exhausted themselves and their wallets, they bid farewell to their lovely hosts hoping to return soon. Another port visit was over but everyone was anticipating the next . This was P.I.. This was duty with the Seventh Fleet.
Johnny Seattle

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