the assorted works of G. H. Spaulding

 

 

Escape to Cubi Point

Imagine that!

 

The first article below is from escapeartist.com, is poorly written and obviously the author was paid by the word. After you've looked at the two pictures, you might want to scroll down past this article to a better one by "the Bubman," whoever the hell that is. He tells us what we really want to know about what has become of the Cubi Point we all remember. Amazing!

 

And here's the link to a web site featuring many photos of Olongapo, Subic Bay, Sangley, Cubi Point, Subic City -- even a cockpit video of a P-3 takeoff from Runway 7 at Cubi Point:

 

http://www.subic-history.org/
 

And be sure to check out the VP-17 alumni home page where you will find links to Cubi, Naha and Barbers Point, Hawaii party photos and a 1973 Cubi Deployment Journal. Click here.

 

Escape From Winter A Special Place In The Philippines
By Robert Haydon

 

ABOVE LEFT - Housing that is very reminiscent of the housing in Panama's converted zones. These structures are well constructed and the prices are as good as it gets.  

ABOVE RIGHT - There are flowers everywhere!  The major lease-holder saw to it that trees and flowers were planted all over this property when he took it over after the Navy left. 

 

O.K., let’s face it, there may be no one on the planet as sick and tired of cold wind, and snow as I am, having endured 50 cold winters  (out of my 66 years) due to familial and work obligations.   Having traveled the length and breadth of the U.S. in an “18 wheeler” for 12 of my working years, I am familiar with the fact, that there are damn few places that are really comfortable and affordable within it’s borders.   I used to hear people say, “Oh I love the 4 seasons, and all the changes”…etc. etc.  So if you’re in that category, you can skip this, and go on, because I now live in a place that is very affordable, and essentially has one season, Summer, all year long!  Yes, they have names for different times of the year, and if you’re talking to an English speaker,  (and there are more here than you’ll find anywhere else in Asia) they’ll talk about “winter”,  “spring”, and “summer”!  If you’re from the “Northern Tier” states, the “Midwest”, or “New England” (where I grew up) or around “the Great Lakes”, you will not notice the difference!  It is always a “day to go swimming” here, whether at the “Pool” (the place I will tell you about has 3 pools, all maintained by American-style filtration systems, with lifeguards in attendance, free to residents) or at the many “beach” facilities, just a 5-minute drive away! 

Couples and “singles” can enjoy a comfortable life in former Navy Officer’s Quarters, for well within $175.00 per month!  (This figure is including; the lease, plus a small monthly “Power” bill that includes, cable T.V., trash pickup & twice weekly “housekeeping” and electricity.  These buildings are extremely well constructed of  high quality  materials, extremely well insulated, with American style plumbing….(water in abundance is sometimes a problem in other areas outside of the “5-Star” Hotels in the big city), and individual air-conditioning in each apt. 
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There are flowers everywhere!  The major lease-holder saw to it that trees and flowers were planted all over this property when he took it over after the Navy left.  Now, everything he planted has “matured” and I’ve had Navy retirees tell me it looks nicer now than when they were here in the service!  It’s more like Hawaii than anywhere else I have been in this country, without the “manicured” look, (and the extremely high prices!)  Where am I talking about?  I won’t hold you in suspense any longer, if you promise to read through to the end, because if you don’t, you’ll really be missing a chance to enjoy some of the most
comfortable surroundings anywhere.  The country is the Philippines!  The specific area is Subic Bay! Yes, I’m talking about the former Navy installation, supposedly inundated beyond repair by the ash from Mt. Pinatubo! (…according to our “ratings-driven” media)  This base was “home” to a lot of Carriers, which have officer ranked personnel in abundance. There are probably Navy men out there who will read this who know much more about this than I do. I spent my 6 military years, as a “grunt” in the Army’s “Signal Corp”.  (as it was called it then, although it may have another name by now) so for me, now in retirement, to enjoy living in “Officer’s Quarters” is a real treat! 

This is an “efficiency apartment” type of dwelling, (for those unfamiliar with the military, or who may think anything “military” may be too “Spartan” to be enjoyable) with some minimum furnishings provided; (double or in some cases “twin” beds, 2 bedside stands, a lounge chair, a T.V., sturdy “utility table” for it to sit on, and a large table [23x54,-29inches high] with a drawer in the center  which is a good size for dining, and another upright chair to serve as a “desk” or “dining” chair.  All this is finished in a high quality pale oak, [although it may actually be some other type wood] and it is, like everything in the building, of impeccable quality, built to last.)   There is ample closet space, bigger than any I’ve seen in the country in “resort” accommodations, (unless you are a “collector” of “knick-nacs” etc.)…[Let’s face it, there’s no necessity for a lot of clothes here, and dress is “casual” everywhere.  Open collared, short-sleeve, light-weight shirts, such as  Hawaiian “Bolos” or, Polo shirts, or even some “Tee”-shirts are acceptable, (please leave the political “slogans” and  those with off-color language at home!) There’s NO need for a suit, unless you’re going to be “rubbing elbows with the “Rich & Famous” in Metro-Manila, and if you’re coming here to do that, these units are too far away to be practical.  Guess what else you won’t need?  “Winter “clothes!! Yippee!!!]

 Back to the apt, there’s a separate divided-off area with a small sink, with cabinet space below, and the shower/bathtub has glass sliding doors, toilet area is within, and the door there is like the entry door,…. steel-clad, and opens and closes like a safe,  with  locks of  high quality hardware.  You may add to the furniture as you wish, and if you have a small child, this is not a problem with management, however one should bear in mind, there will be no “modifications” allowed to this physical layout.  In essence it is the single retired person, and the childless retired couples that will find these quarters most suitable.   Air conditioners are more than adequate, and as I said earlier, these apts. are extremely well insulated.  There have been many times when my wife and I have left for the day, and turned it off, only to return in the evening and find it still cool inside.  If you’re the type who thinks they “need” the dishwasher, washer-dryer, etc. etc., forget it.   Also, be aware, cooking, as you may now know it is essentially a “no-no”!  You may have; a microwave, (there are delicious “Healthy Choice” frozen dinners, a-la “stateside” available in our local supermarket) a “rice-cooker” (a particular Philippino favorite in which some whole meals are often tastily prepared.  An Englishman’s wife, a Philipina, who was a neighbor here in our building, made an Italian Lasagna dinner to which I was invited, and, now months later, I still remember it.- [of course I am a particular “fan” of Italian food!]  All prepared in her Rice Cooker!) You may have a coffee-maker, (or “hot-pot” if you’re more inclined to Tea), however, you should inquire if you wish to bring in an electric “Hotplate” since it will add considerable strain to the electrical system.  I believe you will be politely asked not to, since they also disapprove of  Irons!  And why do all that work anyway?  The Subic Internatonal Hotel has a huge laundry service, open 7 days a week,  that does a superior pressing service, at very reasonable prices!   (please consider the use for which these buildings were designed!) 

As to the electrical system itself, the Philippines generally, runs everything on “220” however here in these units, you will find 2 [one “double”] 220 outlets in a single location, and the other outlets throughout the room are all “110” U.S. standard!  (Yes the guys in the Navy did have electric razors!)  Sounds like I’ve gone into a lot of “detail” over the “cooking” thing?  Maybe, but I haven’t gotten to the best part yet.  Only the most fanatical “fancy-diet” kind of person needs to cook here at all!  Part of this complex “CROWN PEAK GARDENS HOTEL & NATURE SPA” includes a fine food outlet called “Mike’s Diner” (one of 2! I’ll get to the other one in a minute….), where you can get GOOD; American, Philippino, Chinese, apanese, food, at prices you would not believe.   I enjoy a delicious breakfast nearly every day, for less than $3.50, including: “Bacon & Scrambled” eggs plus Potatoes pan-fried in the skin, and 2 delicious hearty pancakes, a bottle of  Spring water, 3 cups of coffee and a tip for the great service!  (and I mean Great service….It’s: “Good Morning Sir, and Hello Mr. X……..your usual order this morning sir?”….and on,  and on!…It’s .amazing what a response you get when you show these people even simple, basic good manners and respect, and I’m sad to say,  many of your fellow Americans, do not!)    I get a 10% discount at Mike’s, because I’m a resident.  This also goes for “Anthony’s Fine Wines” and the other “Mike’s Diner” location (yes, I’m getting to it!….I haven’t forgotten!)  In addition to Mike’s, [a restaurant that has never failed once in an entire year to provide great flavored food for the money] within a 3-minute walk, is another fine restaurant called the “Highland Café” that belongs to Legend Resorts Int’l ‘s “Legenda Suites” property, right next door to us here on “Upper Cubi Point”.  This is a little (and only a “little”) “pricier” than Mike’s, but very nice, with some great buffet’s and it’s open 24 hours on week-ends!  “Down on the valley floor” (my expression, since we live on a big “hill”) are restaurants, (and the “other” Mike’s “All American Diner and Grille...Home of the all-day Brunch”….a slightly different layout somewhat reminiscent of  a “50’s” era “drive-in” restaurant with an active outdoor charcoal broiler going every afternoon and evening.  These people love their “Barbeque”, and the manneqiuns of “Blonde Car-Hops” and “James Dean”,  blend with the tapes of  “50’s and “60’s” playing on a good quality “P.A”!  (There!, see?….I told you I wouldn’t forget  it!  Once you’ve seen it, especially after dark with all the lights on, you won’t either!)  There’s “shopping” galore, in 3 big huge “Supermarket-style” duty-free stores, a bowling alley, a movie theatre showing first-run American “Billboard Magazine” hit movies, 5 Chinese, 1 Korean, 1 ITALIAN (!),  1 Japanese, and 3 Philippino, restaurants, plus 2 Casinos, all within an easy walk from the “Main Gate”  There is a “Night Market” and stores galore in Olongapo within an easy walk.  A short drive of about 15 minutes will take you to Barrio Barretto, where there is food galore of exceptional quality, including a Mexican restaurant that is the genuine article!.  You can dine on the beach in many locations, In the Freeport,  “Magellan’s landing, is an “Aussie”-owned Pub, that has some excellent food, is open “24/7”, contains a Dive School, a Maritime Museum, and is the home of Subic Seaplane! [which by its name should need no explaination,….however if you want quick transportation to Manila, there’s no better way to go!]    Did I mention the  “Ocean Adventure”?  This is an aquatic “Park” with an Aquarium of local species,  trained Sea Lions, and Photo and  “encounter” activities available with “False Killer Whales”..(“Dolphin-like mammals of equally great intelligence and gentleness)  This Park features one of the most advanced, best-equipped and staffed veterinarian facilities in the country! 

 

There are Busses, that are part of the Management company that runs the Subic Bay Freeport, which get you everywhere, for around 19 cents (U.S.) and run every 20 minutes (approximately) all over, from 6AM to 6PM, and every hour thereafter, until 10PM.  At the same location, you can get Taxis, [24/7] run by the same company, with very reasonable rates anywhere in the Freeport, considering the vast expanses covered, and they are a fleet of very well maintained, nice new vehicles, with “Air”!   Outside the Freeport, the famous Philippino “Jeepney” abounds, and “Trikes” are everywhere, and both are super economical and quick for local needs, and there are fine major Bus Lines offering  both Air-conditioned and “ordinary” service all over the Country!  This is absolutely the least costly way to “tour”.   The “Victory Liner” has nice new equipment, a large terminal in Olongapo City, and other terminals everywhere it goes,  and they can get you to Manila as fast as anyone.  Saulog Transport has no terminal here, but makes regular appearances at a central restaurant downtown,  and offers similar service, and The “Philippine Rabbit” runs regular service to Manila and Angeles City.  Busses proliferate here, and there’s not much “danger” that  things will deteriorate to a “single-provider” system such as the “Hound” in the states! 

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Inside the Freeport there are few “Jeepneys” (by special pernit only), and no “trikes” are allowed, which contributes to our phenomenal “quiet” here, and the FACT, that we have some of the best [cleanest] air to breathe anywhere in the country.  (While we’re on that, if you now live in Denver, or Idaho, or anywhere in the “High Desert”,  [let’s say over 4000ft. in elevation] once you’re here a couple of days, breathing this Oxygen-Rich highly humid air, you’ll find your [personal] energy levels go through the roof!! You’ll feel like a “kid” again!  It is also worth noting we eat “organic” here, all the time, everywhere.  That is the food we have, period.  This is not to say, there are not some chemical pesticides in use here, however, the “natural” alternatives are the most economical, and at least for the time being that is what counts the most.  Food is grown locally, and brought to market in communities small and large early in the morning.  The restaurants have their buyers out there, [and you will see many housewives, and “housekeepers” out as well] at 4:30 and 5:00 in the morning, [and sometimes earlier!]   It is “brought to table” when the facility opens.  It is NOT, frozen, “canned” and/or “trucked” thousands of miles before it gets to you, and you don’t have to pay double the price for it at a fancy-shmancy “health-food” store in “YUPPEEVILLE”!   It is what’s available, and always at the regular price…make your “deal”….bargaining and “haggling” are favorites sports!      To go back to transportation for a minute, many Philippinoes use small Motorcycles, and “Mopeds”, and “Scooters”, and there are a few brands here, not available to you in the states, that can be bought new, at amazing prices!   I don’t use this type of transport outside the confines of the Freeport, but that is just my opinion.  There are over 12,000 “Expats living here and all over the immediately surrounding areas of Olongapo City, Barrio Barretto, and Angeles City, (who also own property and many businesses!) and many, many of them own and ride Motorcycles, and some use them as their only transportation!  (You will meet the “World” community here of, Australians, Englishmen, Swedes, Germans, Spaniards, and Japanese,  Chinese,  and Koreans.) 

To be perfectly fair, here in the Philippines, the Motorcycle is not “invisible” to the car driver, as  is the case in the states.  You will find Harleys here!   While we’re on the subject of vehicles, my strongest recommendation to you is that you DO  NOT  import your  present vehicle from the states, (especially any “stateside “American” car) no matter how much you my love it, if you come here for the long term; 1st, because gasoline is one of the few things that cannot be had here,  for less than the stateside price, and secondly, service will be a nightmare.  (Yes, o.k., there are a few “hobbyists” who own a few truly “collectable” Mustangs” and others, but if you have that kind of money, you’re  shouldn’t be too worried about the affordability of  your residence!  That, in essence is what we’re talking about here,… …remember?…let me say it again;….really nice “Officers Quarters”…...less than $175.00 per month TOTAL….Tops!)   3rd, like the Motorcycles, there are so many very fine vehicles to be had here, that suit the purpose very well, it is an exercise in futility to import a vehicle yourself.  Yes, a car is useful here, and it will amaze you how many people own cars, for a country supposedly so “poor”!  The Freeport covers a huge expanse of land, and to see it all will take at lest 2 or 3 days, even with a car.  In our area alone, within the Crown Peak property, is a “Nature Park & Mini-Zoo” with lots of “fun” stuff for kids, and includes Peacocks, and Ostriches, Swings, “Tree-Houses”, (in addition to the 3 pools, a “Gym” with exercise equipment, and the “Bat Kingdom”. 

A short drive away is the J.E.S.T. Camp, which stands for Jungle Environment Survival Training, with instructors to take you on “treks” and teach you how to survive in ….yes!…the JUNGLE!!!  We are surrounded here on all sides by both Forest, and Jungle!  Monkeys can be seen on the roads leading to and from other parts of the Freeport! (Don’t Feed them!)  If you like walking, (for me it is a primary form of exercise) you are safer doing so here, than just about anywhere, although many of the “expats” who live here practice it in their locations often.   We have patrols, not only by our own in-house security people, but by the SBMA Police as well.  (Yes, the Freeport has its own Police and Fire Departments.)  If you rent “outside” you will find ultimately, that prices exceed what you’re going to pay here, because you will need to hire “housekeeper” personnel to see to it that all your “stuff” doesn’t disappear while you’re gone!  Plus, all the services I spoke of earlier will come at a higher rate, and most likely will need to be paid separately.   About paying for stuff, get a good reliable ATM card, and use cash.  It works best, for a lot of reasons I can spend hours on, unless you will reside in Metro-Manila.  There is other housing here,  within the Freeport, …most all of it more expensive, but, some as nice as any stateside home.  Long-term leases are available  (the Freeport is, in essence, “owned” by the Government, so buying here is not a possibility, however, many different kinds of leasing is possible,  for  very long-term periods….I’m talking about individual houses, single-family dwellings, with lawns, etc., within the Freeport…in the “neighborhood of $500.00 per month, U.S.!  (That’s a prohibitively expensive “neighborhood” for me, but it might not be for you….the climate’s  still the same……NO “winter”!  If you’re interested, try this:  Come to Crown Peak. And enjoy one of these fine Apts. for 3 months while you explore the other options.  Yes, I said 3 months.  There are 80+ units available in the building next to, and identical to mine…(and occasionally one opens up in my building also!) Lease packages are available in 3, & 6months packages, or for a full year, at  $130.00 (U.S.) plus, as I described, the small “power” bill. (We use our Microwave and A/C without concern for the “pennies”, and in a year, our bill has never exceeded $39.00! at current exchange rates!)   I can help you arrange van-and-driver transportation, or get you to the car rental that has the best rates in the Philippines. 

Obtain an International Driver’s license before you come…it will help with the rental of a car!   I could go on, and Mr. Gallo was kind enough to tell me there were no length restrictions!  He may be regretting that now, so look…plain and simple…I absolutely love it here!  I know, there are others of you who are now, or have in the past frozen your you-know-what in a lot of areas back there, who would also love it here! [or in Florida, or Hawaii if you could afford it!]   Please bear in mind also that you now live in a land where the “Media” won’t give you any information about another country unless it has sufficient “Shock” value to keep you riveted to the “tube” or sell you a Newspaper, to gain “points” with their advertisers!  So, all you ever hear is the bad stuff!!  What was the last thing you heard about the P.I. in the news?  Do you even remember?  What,… maybe about Mount Pinatubo?  And what about all this stuff with kidnappings, etc. etc?   First; Subic Bay is on the Island of Luzon, and more than 400 miles form the activity you may be hearing about where our troops are offering training and technical assistance to the otherwise very capable Armed Forces of the Philippines, in Southern Mindanao. We   have night vision equipment.  They, don’t!  It’s that simple!  The combatants involved are simple Bandits, who have turned kidnapping for ransom into a profit-making industry, much like our “drug trade” in the states.  It shocked me to see CNN dignify these clowns by calling them “separatist freedom fighters”! These people adhere to NO religious ideology, nor is their  “cause” anything other, than supporting “mother greed”!  The former president made thing worse by cow-towing to ransom demands, because he was getting a “piece of the action”!  This President will not be “bought”! She is a person of the highest integrity,  with a  “Zero  tolerance” attitude towards kidnapping. 
Because there is evidence that these people are also receiving funding from Al-Queda, they will be eliminated,  pure and simple!   “Safe”?   You are as safe here in this Freeport and the surrounding areas I have named earlier, as you are anywhere in the world. Think about your “safety in places like, for instance, Detroit, or Washington, D.C., which once held the title of “murder capitol of the world”!  They are very much “used to” Americans here.  Remember Subic and Clark were former bases for our Military.  You will not  “stand out” here for any reason, unless you choose to do so by your behavior, minimizing your potential to become a
“victim” of any kind.  Back to the weather, this is nearly my second year here.  From June to Sept., is what is called “the rainy season.  Yes, it may rain more than you’re used to, but we’re in the “Tropics”!  Forget the cold, bone-chilling  rain you’re used to.  Here, if you get wet, it’s no big deal, and if you’re already in the pool,….. 

From Sept. to February, we enjoyed some of the coolest weather ever, but I could swim anytime.  Now, in March, April and May the weather may be a little hotter than most people like, so that’s when you do your “inside stuff”,(like work on  your computer for example!….we have the best phone line and ISP services in the country outside Metro-Manila!  I’m doing this right now in my 4th floor unit!)  from about 11 in the morning, until about 5 in the afternoon.  In June, the “rainy season” will start again, and things will cool off.  This is a climate very much like Honolulu, with the exception of these 3 months.    The days are 12 hours long, all year ‘round.  Sunrises and sunsets are spectacular, as they are on any Pacific Island.   Bring a positive attitude, a smile, and come enjoy, and check it out!  Philippinoes are, hard-working, very intelligent,  friendly,  and a vast majority speak English.  It is the language of education, so leave your “slang” expressions at home, smile, and be polite, and you’ll have a wonderful time!  Did I mention, Para-sailing, water-skiing, and “jet-ski” rentals?   I have a travel agent friend in Western N.Y. State who has been specializing in travel to this area for more than 10 years.  I’ve traveled with him 3 times now, and my “round trip” has never exceeded $950.00 from Reno, and Idaho!!  Write me… <urfriend@pmt.org>  and I’ll give you any information you may want, or turn you over to the best sources I know of, for it…….but the best thing to do is,  come to the Philippines,  and Make Subic First!       RoBeRt

 

A Cubi Point Update
By: The Bubman

 

Since the Navy left in the early 90's, two factors have greatly influenced the area. First, the Taiwanese have invested heavily in the building of computer component manufacturing and production facilities in the Subic area. It has included factories, resorts with casino's, yacht club with condominiums and improved recreational facilities. Second, FedEx has utilized the airport area as a major Far East Hub for time-definite delivery to that part of the world. As such, let's start at the airport.

The area, previously known as VC-5, VRC-50 and Flag spaces, is now all FedEx, which has numerous Airbus, DC-10 and MD-11 aircraft transiting Cubi on a daily/nightly basis. The runway is the same, and pilots have to be mindful of the mountain to the west and the terrain to the east. The area toward the bay, known as 'The Air Wing Maintenance Hanger' is now deserted. There is a small racetrack in the lower aircraft parking area and a restaurant adjacent to Leyte pier. Not much activity down in that area. Around to the south is the old ammo pier which is also deserted; however, the dungaree beach areas are still active for tourists, such as the Taiwanese. At the east side of the runway, there is now a commercial international airline terminal with 6 or so gates. That's about it for the airpatch.

Next, Cubi Point, and it's probably most fitting to start with the O'club. It is now an office building; no more club, however-the Catapult room is still functioning and is now known as the 'Flight Deck' with a disco. I walked completely around the O'club and still marvel at the beautiful view of the bay and surrounding area. There are benches there for those inclined to rest and reminisce. Now, as I walked around the club, I did find a few old shoes, khaki shirts and smelly socks and if I was real quiet, I could here some sounds from the pass-like somebody calling "Main Gate" or something about a "Klondike" game. I also found an old pair of dogtags; but the name was hardly legible-there was a J, an e and a Sat or something. Anyway, it's not the same, boys.

OK... as you come out of the club, in your mind eye and to the right would be the gym and bowling alley. There are now restaurants and stores. Facing up the hill toward the BOQ, you'll notice a new casino hotel and resort right in the area that used to be barracks. That is some of that Taiwanese$. On up pass the chapel, the BOQ is now a hotel with another across the street between the Q and the A-5 which is still there. I went into the Q and looked for a barber shop, and inquired about a Cubi Dog and San Maguil at the back bar. Also, wanted to buy some belt buckles and patches. Boy's (weep), it's all gone. Listening real hard, I could hear some splashes out back, pool is now part of the resort and, well-it's just not the same. By the way, the Cubi exchange with Martinez model shop is all closed and deserted. You can still, however, visit JEST; which still has a zoo, run by the Negrito's including a camp-out, if you so desire.

Well, that's 'bout it for Cubi. In many respects, it's a ghost town. Some activity; but most of the activity is down toward Subic side; which will be the subject of another story later. Hope you enjoyed the tour. I did. I still in my mind's eye, see the carrier arriving pierside with transportation waiting, the exodus from the ship and the high speed pass to the club and BOQ and the aviator's blowing off some steam. Bodies crawlin' around the jungle, tomorrow's duty officer meandering back to the ship, the XO wanting to know where everybody is and has ANYBODY read the message board in the last week. And, of course, the Skipper's leading the charge. "Binictican come in-Main Gate".

 

 

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