To many American G.I.’s who traveled the world this will be a trip down memory lane. Destination: Subic Bay, Zambales, Philippines. About three (3) hours drive North of Manila.
For decades, the largest U.S. Navy installations outside of the United States, the former Subic Naval Base has been successfully transformed into a busy free port and a tourist destination.
Said to be one of the training grounds of the secretive Navy Seals (until that highly trained covert group was popularized in the movie “Navy Seals”) gone are the days when a tour of the facility was strictly “guided.”
No more MP vehicles with blinking lights leading the way of a convoy of cars of visitors with special passes and no more mean-looking soldier boys with automatic rifles guarding the gates. They were replaced by local policemen riding their prowl cars and Subic Bay Free Port Authority guards.
The area where they used to sell PX goods has been turned into a commercial district complete with Jollibee restaurants (a local version of U.S.’s Mc Donald’s chain of restaurants) and many other fast-food joints.
Very few people thought that the City of Olongapo, where the naval base used to be, would survive economically when the Americans left. It definitely suffered some kind of a loss, and the number of night clubs catering to the carnal needs of thousands of those sex-starved sailors (while at sea), have greatly diminished, but the place is back on its feet again.
A commercial shipyard has replaced the dry-docking facilities of the former naval base and Fedex planes and cargo vehicles are teeming on the tarmac of the airport that up until they left was accessible only to US Naval aviators, their airborne assets and whatever secrets they were flying to and from their floating fighting monsters stationed anywhere in the world’s oceans.
Some of the vacated billeting houses were turned into hotels especially at the Crown Peak,
and a zoo is now occupying a forested portion of the site.
Yes, if you talk to the proper authorities, you can still get your Jungle Survival lessons here. That is, if you still want to take that course despite the fact that much of the jungles in the world are now giving way to encroaching upscale subdivisions.
A beach resort renting diving gears with diving instructors has opened up somewhere close by, and just beside it rose a structure that features trained aquatic animals that show more intelligence than some pea-brained local officials who allowed further degradation of the area (oops, sorry, that’s intended for another post).
And of course, the asphalted roads crisscrossing the forested sections that lead to more yet undiscovered naval military secrets (I presume) are still there. Except this time (not sure if it has been there since) an access road to the neighboring Province of Bataan has already been opened at the southwestern end.
And… right, scenes like this one are still occasionally found.
A few days of respite here might be good for Aimzter in one of the upcoming holidays, until she (I am presuming Aimzter is of the female gender) is able to decide what will be her next destination – outside of Luzon.
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