Oh man oh man where do I start? So we arrived in the Philippines a few days ago and our first impression was immediate shock. The airport in Manila looked like it was built in 1950 and never upgraded. There was not so much as a single computer anywhere throughout the terminals, even at customer service. The signs announcing arrivals/departures were still those old ones with the letters you have to physically change yourself. I expected the airport to be bigger, just because Manila is the capital of the Philippines and does at least some international business, but nope — a whooping like dozen gates or so between two terminals, that is it.
Arriving in Manila for the first time…
Stepping out of Ninoy Aquino International Airport and out into the city was another shock. And by “into the city” I really just mean meeting up with our driver and climbing into a van with a cooler full of beer. Not a bad way to start….until we got out on the road. I tell you folks, I have never seen anything like this….no other country anywhere in the Americas can compare! Roads here are a cluster-fuck of old vans, smoke-spewing buses, motorcycles that barely run, all driving crazy as shit. People swing from lane to lane non-stop, will even pass on the shoulder, and there are no rules like in the States it is purely first come first serve.
People in the Philippines drive crazy, so you just have to driver crazier!
It’s a wonder more accidents do not happen. When I inquired with our driver, he said people here drive crazy, so you just have to driver crazier! And what a fucking crazy ride it was. We were passing people in the on-coming lane, sometimes coming so close I thought we were about to have a head-on accident. And as if all that is not bad enough, you have people constantly crossing the street and even — believe it or not — standing in the middle of the street trying to sell bottled water or fresh fruit. Unbelievable shit, unbelievable!
As for the condition of the city, Manila is a shit-hole. Even the locals here in Subic realize Manila is the waste-bucket of this beautiful country. Crime is out of control. The buildings — if you can call them buildings — are sometimes just slapped together pieces of sheet metal. Clothes are strung up every which way out to dry. But they are drying in smoke that just pours off the road from all these old and shitty cars tearing up the street. People everywhere walk with handkerchiefs across their mouths to try and breathe in less of it. Along the coast there is a few tall nice-ass hotels for traveling business people, but at the entrance to each is a guard armed with a mother fucking assault rifle! An assault rifle WTF?!? Oh, and don’t even get me started on security at the banks. All the banks have multiple armed guards at the front doors, again each with assault rifles. We were lucky enough to witness a money pickup in action. The armored truck looked like those military vehicles that have eight wheels and can drive through water as well. It was like a fucking submarine on wheels actually! And there were an additional four guards armed with assault rifles covering it while the money was being brought out by more guards. Ridiculous and crazy crazy shit!
Tollways in the Philippines
They built a tollway a few years ago on the outskirts of Manila, for people heading to San Fernando, a city we had to pass through to get to Subic Bay. They have so few highways here that it was called Route 3! So as you finally start to break free from the traffic in Manila, the road separates into 12 or 16 lanes, each complete with a toll booth. Pulling up, you realize none of the toll booths are automated, but each one staffed with a meager individual inside the booth and guard outside armed with an assault rifle! I can understand armed guards outside of luxury hotels, but really, the tollbooths too? What are they expecting, someone to run the toll or a full-fledged military attack to arrive via tollway? There are two signs at each lane, one reading “TRAFFIC DISCIPLINE AREA” (or in other words, drive the right way you crazy locals) and another that says “Our good roads keep your mood good” 😉 The way the locals drive, they definitely need this reminder.
Anyway, unlike every other modern toll I have been around the world, this one still operates solely on paper slips. You take your slip at the first window, then whenever you finally exit the tollway — which is, keep in mind, secured by chain and barbed-wire fence, cement walls, and armed guards the entire way, to prevent both fraud and smuggling — you submit your tollway ticket and pay the difference. Rates are based upon three different classes, depending on your weight and industry: personal/commercial.
There are occasional rest stops along the way, each complete with a couple of fast food places, public restrooms, and a gas station — but even there an armed guard always checks your slip on the way in, before granting you parking, to ensure you are authorized to be on the tollway. I took a few pictures from the main one on the Westbound side, which you can see below, as this is the stop we hit every time on our way from Manila.
The view along the way is spectacular, almost entirely countryside except for when you pass through San Fernando and have to take the toll exchange. We always pass all sorts of rice and suger cane fields, in addition to lots of lovely mountains. The pics down below do not do enough justice in my opinion. It really is a beautiful country, they are just so very poor. The scenery was definitely nice, that’s for sure — I’ll post a photo gallery soon.
Arriving At Subic Bay
The 4-hour drive through the countryside passed quickly enough, even without any women in the van (as initially warned) only beer. Arriving in Subic we realized the city is almost as run-down as Manila, but some tourists come here, so there are a few nice resorts and a lot less crime. Still kids begging for money everywhere though — and those fucks won’t take food if you offer it, they only want money. There are all kinds of small shops and stands selling everything from food to hand-carved souvenirs to cellphones even. It was crazy.
And walking into the resort for the first time, I had no clue what to expect. We stepped into an open room (there is no AC in all of the Philippines, except for the fanciest of places — which would be the resorts — but even then it is only the guest rooms that have it, the downstairs is open to the weather) with a few pool tables surrounded by lots of tables and a long bar. Immediately the few ladies there just stared at us, shocked to see young and cute guys. However one of Tom’s employees, Little, was helping us with our luggage and we just went right upstairs.
After chilling in the AC in our room for a short period, getting everything unpacked and setup, we went back downstairs to start drinking some beer and play a few rounds of pool. And everyone was talking about us in Filipino… err, excuse me, Tagalog. They would occasionally make a joke about us “babies” as they put it, but you could see every single one of them wanted our nuts.
Before long one of the girls behind the bar tells me that this other girl — as she points to her, the girl gets all shy and hides her face as she turns around — likes me and it is her birthday, so she wondered if she could get a kiss on the check from me. I obliged and she got all happy.
There is also an attached nightclub/disco that is also owned by Tom and frequented by some of the locals and occasionally some of the people off the Navy ships. It’s called Rock Lobster. And one by one a girl would come out of the club, see us and smile or say something, then go back in. It would only be a minute or two later before another different girl would come out of the bar to check us out. I tell you we felt like celebrities! They were all hitting on us. ‘Course I want nothing to do with a girl for hire.
Soon two of the dancers had talked me and Jared into playing our next round of pool with them, as partners. The one that instigated became my partner and went for any excuse to kiss me or to get me to kiss her. Next thing you know she is getting me Jack & Cokes, trying to get me drunk. And when I was finally ready for bed (I still had not slept in like 48 hrs), she asked if I wanted her to go and change or even to come upstairs. I said no of course. Meanwhile, Jared stayed down and playing another round with the girls. According to him, my girl kept asking if he thought I would mind if she went up into my room, to surprise me. He told her I was so tired it probably would not fly, and didn’t let her head up to the room, and boy I am glad he did. Bitch was ready to rape me.
I’ll get to more later, Jared has been waiting to use the computer for a whole minute now. Somehow this entry got really long. Until next time…peace out!
This post was imported from the old Shibuya Daze, a drunken, laughable travel blog intended only for friends that eventually evolved into The HoliDaze. So why are you reading this old post when you could be enjoying my recent adventures and mishaps
Ok so since I’ve been here my mind has just been going and going so much to think about. Ok so I consider my self a left wing liberal progressive person with that being said I think me and Derek are literally the only guys to vacation in Philippines with out having sex with a local girl. You think hepatitis would be enough to stop most guys but not the case. Ok with that being said everyone here is ex military old and love McCain and love to do drugs and fuck young hookers all day make sense? Palin is a right wing conservative fanatical Christian so all these people are saying they love and support a women that literally thinks they are going to burn in hell for eternity make sense? Yeah and to think leave it to the Agnostic guy to be the only one with morals here…~Jared, 2008, from the old Shibuya Daze blog
Needless to say, Jared and I had very mixed first impressions of the Philippines. It was a lot different than we’d told by our friends back home and even the Subic region itself just seemed kind of lacking of any real substance or anything really exciting to do. Oh yeah that and seemingly every girl is a hooker. That first night in Subic Bay was a total surprise. Apparently the pros were all over us because they are used to only having old veterans and seniors as johns. Either way, we definitely felt like celebrities our first week there.
Any and all foreigners living in Subic Bay are ex-military, usually almost always American but we did also meet a couple Brits and a few Australian guys. They are all in their late 50’s and 60’s now, beer-bellied and weathered from the years and the things they have seen. Most of them own the bars and discos around town, financed by the wonderful salaries we give our troops.
But, as they all say, “the Philippines is a hell of a place to spend money, just not to make it!” At roughly $0.50 USD a beer, $2 for a full meal, and $20 a night for a nice hotel suite, you’d have a hard time finding a better quality product at such a low price.