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LIBERTY CALL: Olongapo City

well, what can you say about the City of Olongapo on the island of Luzon in the Philippines ? When I was in high school, I had a couple of friends who were older and had joined the Navy right after they graduated. When dwelling on leave they would tell stories of a invest in the West Pacific that you barely couldn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate believe. You sort of blow it off as over-excited storytelling and tell yourself that there just can ’ metric ton be any place on earth like this. then, you get there and realize they were pretty accurate in their descriptions of this little Philippine city that appeared to pretty much survive on the money spent by soldiers, sailors and airmen looking to cut loose .
Whether you just spent months at sea or crawling through a jungle you need some classify of way to just relax for awhile and have some fun. I ’ m guess that in 1972 the median age of enlist military personnel was probably in their early on 20 ’ s. There were those who enlisted after high school and were sent to the fleet immediately after kick camp. so many who had never stepped metrical foot into a bar, tavern or night baseball club were allowed to do then here. This was where many young men could test their endurance and capacitance for consuming alcohol among early substances, since many weren ’ thyroxine of legal senesce stateside. When off-base you were hush

creditworthy for being an “ ambassador ” for the United States, so there was some mannequin of decorum and lead you were expected to follow. Let ’ s just say there was some “ allowance ” in what was considered proper behave, but if there ’ s one plaza on earth where you can act like an barbarian animal, it was this place.

The independent street right outside the Subic Bay Naval Base gate was Magsaysay Blvd. In 1972 there were concrete sidewalks that dropped off to a dirt road surface. They were merely starting to pave the center of this road with concrete at the time. To cross the street during the monsoons you stepped off the sidewalk into crap or mud for about 15 feet and then stepped up on a concrete slab in the middle, then off it into the mud and over to the other sidewalk. This independent street was lined with bars with hotels sandwiched in between. One even I went to a measure off the beat path by myself. I must have been nut ! I remember walking back toward Magsaysay Blvd. on dirty side streets where there were no street lights, it was pouring rain and yet probably 75 degrees. We had been warned to not travel alone or off of the chief streets there. You had to be identical careful if carrying a camera or wearing a wristwatch as it would most likely receive snatched. I never went to town with my wallet. I carried money in a front pocket and in my back air pocket I carried my military ID and Geneva Convention poster. At the time there were known terrorist and guerrilla camps in the jungle outside of town and it was reported that they would love to get hold of a U.S. Serviceman. There was one other time I always went off the independent drag and that was with friends. One of the guys had a girlfriend there who invited us to her place for a meal. I think the alone habit for electricity in her trail was a refrigerator and a abstemious light bulb. Oh, she must have had some screen of stove because she made us some stir-fry vegetables and fish which we washed down with ice cold San Miguel beer .
There was one lazy Sunday I didn ’ t have the duty and wanted to get off the ship. To hell with terror threats and street crime, I ’ thousand going to take off to see some sights outside of Olongapo. I can take care of myself, since I couldn ’ t find any of my bud that would want to go with and it was the center of the day. I went into town with a bunch of my new recently purchased 35mm camera gear. I got into a cab and told him to take me to White Rock Beach. This ride was pretty harrowing in that the driver would go like hell squeezing this little Datsun through constrict slots, around blind corners in the outside lane and zooming around ox drive carts. It was nice that function of the trip was on paved roads ! He dropped me off at the beach where I spent a few hours merely kickin ’ back and chillin ’. I peeked into the pool sphere at the repair near the beach and then caught a cab back to town. Pretty uneventful day but decent to just get aside .
As I mentioned the chief street was lined with bars and night clubs. The cool thing here is that most of the places had a musical theme. What I mean is that there were rock candy and roll places and following door may be a state western bar and next to that may be heavy alloy ( well, heavy as it was in those days ). Walking down the sidewalk was barely like playing with the tuner dial on your car radio receiver. You would hear a Chicago song and then next door you would hear Janis Joplin and next doorway to that you might hear Led Zeppelin. What fascinated me is how the Filipinos were such masters at imitation. These weren ’ triiodothyronine records or tape play that I heard, they were be acts. Imagine hearing Ring of Fire coming out of a stripe and it sounds precisely like the bassy, baritone of Johnny Cash. You walk in and there is this little brown guy in a western shirt, jeans and boots, about 4′ 6 ” onstage with his isthmus making this phone. It was incredible ! It made you want to stick around and see how they did with Folsom Prison Blues or I Walk the Line. There were a couple of places that had a Janis Joplin act. There you would find this bantam native Filipina belting out this big sound on stagecoach. She would even have the Southern Comfort bottle ( credibly ice tea ) at the base of her microphone, occasionally grabbing a gulp. She had the sound and the mannerisms down to a tee. There were some places where the ring may follow up a Buck Owens sung with something from the Beatles and they would sound spot-on ! These people could pick up on the instrumentality and vocals of virtually anyone they studied and of naturally, western culture was the money-maker .
Another place I remember was called Swanky ’ s International. It was improving at the end of Magsaysay and a shortstop obstruct or thus to the east on Rizal Avenue. The bands there always covered songs by the likes of Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Jimi Hendrix, Grand Funk Railroad and Deep Purple. The girls there could “ doctor ” your cigarette for you if you chose to partake. It was interesting that this place had a uniformed guard at the entrance, as some of the joints did. He was normally leaning in the doorway with one hand up around the recess of the door jamb. I was told that there was a button up there at his fingertips and when he would recognize person from the local police, frailty or drug force approach, he would trigger a certain inner light on the wall that alerted the girls to hide any bootleg that may be out .
The music was quite comforting in that it reminded you of family. Sometimes it was sad for the like reason. The one common string with all the club was our beverage of choice, dependable honest-to-god San Miguel beer. When specially sultry out you would offer the male child an extra 25 cents to bring you one from the bed of the cool with frost on it. And if he dug one from the bottom of the freezer/cooler that still has slush in it, give him an extra dime ! They in truth could occasionally find one in that condition ! The “ working ” girls would constantly come to your table and try to get you to buy them an over-priced cocktail with which the bar raked in their gross. The girls were besides there to solicit favors for belated in the evening, if you chose. Most all of these women would tell you that they from some distant village or province and were here to make money for their class and for college. These girls were like impermanent wives or girlfriends to some of the guys. They knew when you were getting shipped out and when you would return, so were available for you on your adjacent visit to Subic Bay. obviously there was a coconut telegraph that could provide the “ ladies ” with embark drift and know what we were doing before we did. John had his Yolanda and another shipmate had Jane Fonda Superstar, who worked upstairs at the D ’ Wave Club. now I don ’ t remember how she got that nickname by us, but I ’ m betting it was before we were aware of the full shock of Jane Fonda ’ second ( the actress ) anti-war stall. Oh, to be young and single in this third-world Adult DisneyLand. Sort of a crisp eden. This was everything ( and more ) my friend Dave said it was several years prior. As I recall, the interiors of most of these places seemed the same ; dimly literature and muggy. Some had swamp coolers or substantial a/c units, others not. Some had more spiders or lizards on the walls than others. Some had floor shows that would be truly difficult to describe .
One clubhouse I remember up on the right slope of Magsaysay had a pond out in front with a make iron fence surrounding the water system. In this pond lived a 5 metrical foot alligator ( or was it a croc ? ). A womanhood stood outside with a basket where you could purchase a cunning little know baby chick ( or were they ducklings ? ) from her. Once you made the bribe you were to toss it into the pond for the alligator to toy with, finally gulping it down. One night I witnessed some intoxicate marines daring each other to bite the heads off the little survive creatures and then throw them in. Guess what ? brainless chicks bobbing in the pool kind of took the frolic out of the alligator ’ s tortuous bodily process, but he ate them anyhow. Don ’ thymine let anyone tell you a U.S. Marine ain ’ triiodothyronine tough !
Walking this street was a multi-sensory barrage of sights, sounds and smells. When you left the main gate at the base, the road leads you correct over Shit River. Smell would tell you how it got the name american samoa well as looking upstream, you could see all the shacks of the barrio built up to and over the water. As you crossed the bridge there were children below in their minor banca boats begging GI ’ s for variety. I suspect there was a hierarchy within these beggars because there would be some poorer ones with no boat who merely bobbed around treading the malodorous brown water. Whether you tossed pennies, a nickle or a dime bag, they would dive for it and come up holding it in their hands. This river was a 40 foot wide exposed gutter, for idol ’ second sakes !
As you walked into town, you smelled the beer and tobacco wafting out of the bars and clubs. You smelled the street foods, like fresh popcorn and the imp kernel or chicken livers grilled on skewers on sidewalk hibachi. Smells from cafe or restaurants were normally pleasant but may be followed by the smell of sewage and then a few feet down you ’ ll get a whiff of some odoriferous jasmine and then back to something rotten wafting from an alley or bad bathymetry. On the road you could catch the boom of a colorful jeepney spend by or the fetid exhaust and putt-putt legal of a travel by 2-stroke motorize tricycle or screen of a wipe up jinrikisha appliance that could carry 1 or 2 ( or 3 close friends ).

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One food ritual I had there was when beginning going into town I would go to a small cafe on the forget side of Magsaysay a few doors past the bridge and get a plate of pancit canton, a noodle dish. Sometimes I would orderliness the lumpia, besides. They were like bounce rolls, sometimes fried. In summation to anything grilled on a sidewalk hibachi, I besides ate a few hum baos. These were a angelic doughy bread that had kernel in the plaza that was like it was in a barbecue sauce. I asked a mama san once what the meat was and she said “ andiron ”. They were still reasonably tasty. The one street food I always thought that some evening I would get intoxicated adequate to eat was the balut. I never did. Women would stand on a street corner with a basket with some aroused towels in it. Buried in these warm towels were duck eggs. These fertilized eggs had an embryo inside that when at a certain degree of development, were then boiled. basically, it was like our hard boiled eggs but with a little feathery body treat inside. Just peel the shell off, sprinkle with some salt and corrode. I was told that you should keep racetrack of the semi-developed beak so you could use it as a toothpick .
I had another food ritual there that took rate on the base. When we would come back to Subic Bay from Viet Nam for repairs and maintenance, the very first place I would go was the enlist mens club on the basal. Wasn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate that called the Sampaguita Club ? I would go there and order a fillet mignon and a 7 & 7. Those respective especial meals there are the alone time in my animation I can recall ever having filet mignon. I don ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate think I ’ ve ever ordered it stateside .

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This entrance was posted on Tuesday, February 21st, 2012 at 11:22 promethium and is filed under Food, Music, Travel, US Navy, USS Francis Hammond, Veterans. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a reaction, or trackback from your own site .

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