Cubi Point Revisted
Cubi Point Revisted
Bud Taylor wrote an article (see below) about his visit to PI. Titled "The Budman's 1999 Cubi Point Visit".
I would like to reply to him with the following:
Check out the web site at www.subicbaypi.com
Photo Galleries of Off-Base Girls of Olongapo: in the 1960's section. Five of the pictures belong to VA-163 folks. Lots of other good photo's in this web site.
Mister Ed, VA-163 Saints SDO
The Budman's 1999 Cubi Point Visit Since the Navy left Cubi Point, Philippines 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, FDX 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 FDX, 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 past the chapel, the BOQ is now a hotel with another hotel 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 a ghost town. Some activity; but most of the activity is down toward Subic side; which will be the subject of page 2, 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" Later, gentleman, the Budman.
Cubi...'Being There' I've been enjoying your travelogue of Subic and I've been meaning to add some of my own experiences for the guys who don't get out much but who remember those days of our Great Adventure. So here are a few words from the Turtle:
I spent a great day in Subic about two weeks ago having some great regression moments. Although I've flown through there a few times with Tigers and FedEx since my Navy days, this was my first actual layover in Subic since my last overnight there sometime in May 1973! So, naturally, sleeping took second place to the urge to revisit the scenes of the crimes.
I was raring to go up and have a look around Cubi. I had two choices, as always: Walk 5 miles up the hill in 900 degrees and 400% humidity (no damn way). Or take de bus. I took de bus. I hopped dis bus pull ob billipilos and blasted up the hill the Cubi Club and the old BOQ. On de bus, de radio was blasting and the air conditioner on de roof was roaring with the condensate dripping right on my head! It was great to be back!
As you go around the bay toward Cubi, right at the split in the road where you either go up the hill to the O'club or down to the pier, there is still that F-8 sitting there, painted sort of a dark Air Force blue from the tip of the pilot tube to the back of the tailpipe. Reminded me of the time when our beach Det was supposed to paint one of our F-8s (in full squadron colors, of course) but decided to hit the Po-town instead and pay the joes to paint the aircraft (no doubt the payoff was two cases of beer or some such). When they got back, the entire aircraft was painted all right, It was gray from pitot tube to titanium tailpipe, including the canopy, the wheel wells and the tires. All gray. Lots of yellin' and snortin' about that as I recall. Glad I wasn't working in Maintenance at the time.
Going up the hill takes you through lots of jungle trees and big bushes as always. It's very quiet up around the old Cubi club but the buildings are about the same with some actual improvements. They've built a few new structures (no high-rises, though) and added some nice features that make it like a tropical hotel/resort deal. There are some walking/sitting areas with views where there was once only jungle down below the O'Club.
You can meander around the grounds and enjoy the heat and the view. (The view is still terrific.) I walked past the Chapel (funny, I don't remember the Chapel at all) over to the BOQ. It's also a hotel/resort but not much in the way of guests. We walked through the place where the old barbershop and massage rooms were (they're gone-turned back into hotel rooms) and out back to the pool. Even though it was a beautiful sunny afternoon, there was not one soul at the pool. I stood there remembering that I never saw that pool with less than 300 guys laying around it. But it looks exactly the same. The cabanas (with grass underneath) by the pool are still there where we got out of the sun and asked the girls to bring us another cold one. The diving boards are low ones now, but I remember colossal buffooneries on a high diving board by many a star athlete/nasal radiator augmented by a few (more than a few...) beers.
The old O'Club is not in daily use now. But it's been maintained and is used on an as-needed basis for conference meetings and presentation meetings. The main dining room is set up with chairs and a big projection screen on the same stage where the Marines used to enhance the floor shows with their "Mushroom soup" routines or the F-8 guys used to give impromptu renditions of "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," complete with raunchy gestures. Just writing this is making me laugh so hard, my eyes are watering and I can't see to type! I turned left inside the front door to go have a Cuba Libre at the bar, but, as we all know, the bar is GONE! It's in the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola.
As luck would have it, only 10 days earlier, I was having a Cubi Dog at the actual Cubi Bar in the Museum with 400 other F-8 pilots during our annual reunion. Having a Cubi Dog in Pensacola and nothing but a sweatburger in Cubi was a little strange. It was a quiet moment to stand there and think about the flow of incredible talent, wit and humor that flowed through that building. It was slightly sad to see all the touchstones of the past (the big tall windows were not as tall as I remember 'em, the club itself is not as big as I remember it being, and the slot machines are gone) but the place is the same place, just very quiet.
I stood out in the parking lot, remembering that we only had about two highly stylized cars/trucks per squadron and as JOs we were always stealing the Skipper's truck and blaming it on the XO from the other squadron as we piled in for the trip to the main gate. I walked to the right outside and remembered that facade of dark stone, perfectly fitted together on the face of the club. It's still there. If there was ever a stirring testament to the fact that PEOPLE make the difference in any enterprise, there it was. A building and no people --- nothing. Well, I slapped myself out of my trance and realized that, of course, no trip to Subic is complete without a trip into the 'ville.
So back on de bus to Po wit de billipino beoples, past the huge new Acer computer factory to pick up about a million Bilipino girls who assemble your computers and on to de "Men Gate." The liber (as in that well-known rock song: "Lolling on de Liber") is just as disgusting as ever, but no boys diving for coins. Big wall on the bridge to prevent you from even seeing the liber unless you work at it. On the other side, lots of jeepneys, dust, little shops selling electronics, pizzas, other stuff. No juke joints, dives, bimbos, guys with machine guns or other fun stuff. Just a grubby little third-world town. They did have a huge flea-market set up there, with lots of cheap stuff and the all-time BEST selection of flip-flops I've ever seen. And I've traveled over the years to some big-time flip-flop wearing cultures. This was the worldwide best. Well, what the hell did I expect?
It was so damn hot, I finally had to get the hell out of there, but it wasn't without a moment of serious reflection on what we all enjoyed there. All of us flying F-8s, F-4s, Vigies, Spads, A-4s, A-6s, Whales, and all the rest. The incredible effort of the ships, the squadrons, the shore effort, the beach dets, the liberty fun. Hell, once there were so many ships in port in Subic including two other carriers, we had to "anchor out" with the Oriskany and ride the Higgins boats to the liberty pier. It was a huge effort.. an incredible expenditure of the nation's capital.
As I sat in the MD-11, flying back across the Pacific, I looked out the window at the water and the clouds and thought about all those people, those places and those great days. We all miss 'em, but those days set us on the road to becoming effective people, they made us feel like true agents for our country and they taught us how to do big things in the world and not just root around in the pine trees of our little hometowns, screwing around with old Mary Lou Rottencrotch. As we get older, my friends on this list, you guys who were there with me, are the most valuable things in my life. We were huge, weren't we? Don't worry, Cubi lives.