Barrio Barreto, Philippines, 1984-1989
From October of 1984 through March of 1989, I came to know all there was to know about Subic Bay, Philippines. Angeles City, Manilla, and other places and islands, too—but mostly Subic; or, “Pubic,” as we used to say.
…The Barrio Barreto is a place about 15 minutes and 2 pesos by Jeepney from the central conglomeration that’s Olongapo City. Olongapo has many bars, nightclubs, restaurants and other attractions, but none as raw as the Barrio; none as real. The juxtaposition is palpable. Whereas, one entices newly moored sailors with weeks of unspent pay in their pockets, the Barrio entices the more maturated; those who’d learned a lesson or two.
In a third world country, money buys anything and everything. Boys, girls, several boys, several girls. Combinations. …Cougars. Two or three even, who may like one-another. Money is lubricant and one person’s exploitation is another’s charity, and the families on the other 1,000 islands are glad for the wired money—whether is comes from a seasoned prostitute with dreams of returning home someday, or the one who chooses more wisely for less money, looking instead for a ticket to the 1st world via a Visa and marriage and hopes of bringing the family along in time.
It seems, humans can’t all choose the same values. Dommage.
I Stepped in Shit with Presence of Mind
It would be ridiculous to blog something like this, and assert my lily white status. Nope: I indulged, though my tastes were pretty pedestrian.
…The Philippines is a jungle, equatorial country with a vicious monsoon in June. I’m sure it was the first June in 1984 when I was there a 2nd or 3rd time; but one quickly learns to go out in flip flops, swimming trunks and a light tank top with no umbrella—because you’re going to get soaked no matter what. And, when the rain pours and pours and the next brownout is only 15 minutes away, and the 2-ft-deep open sewers look like mere flowing water indistinguishable from all other flowing water on the street, you might take a bath in shit.
Yin-Yang. Rain is still pouring. So you just shower off.
…The times I didn’t stay at one of the two or three decent places to stay overnight (Hotel Subic, Casablanca, etc), I’d take a motorcycle with sidecar back to the gate at the Subic Naval Base and finish the night in my own bed, in my own stateroom, on the ship.
So many people got and get themselves wrapped up badly in various ways; because, instead of maintaining a Presence of Mind always, they succumbed and succumb to the consequences of any number of possibilities—just or unjust—once having surrendered to that last line of defense which accounts for both just and unjust. In 30 or so visits in 5 years, I always maintained that essential Presence of Mind. It was prescient, at times. Here I am, in a sidecar at 2am, fairly drunk, with some Filipino guy I don’t know driving me down a dark coastal highway. He knows I have money in pocket and a watch on my wrist worth months of what he makes.
Most importantly, he knows I am astutely watching his every move, a thing I signal implicitly, never explicitly, from the outset. I chat him up with Presence of Mind. I know the route as well as he. …And I am prepared to make sure I get where I’m going. With him, or through him.
What’s the Point?
The World and the Internet is Filled With Sewers and Ghettos
The world seems increasingly filled with activists, advocates, victims, and stupid people—but I repeat myself.
On the one hand, I salute the expeditionary ethic. Go get dirty. Fall in shit, even.
Just don’t bellyache and be a pathetic victim about it if you happen to get hurt or someone calls you a NAME! And if you do get hurt, can you please make a distinction between your emotions, and something that bleeds? Mkay? That way, we can all tell what we’re really dealing with.