Posted by: ghostdawg2 | December 1, 2009

The “glory days” of Angeles City Philippines by Jimmy Regina October 2nd 2009


Anyone who has been to AC more than once knows how quickly it changes from trip to trip. Just looking at it from my perspective of only going since 2002, I’ve witnessed countless changes over those 7 years. 

Too many to mention in one post really, but all of the things like new hotels, fancy new bars, the paving of the streets, much maligned price increases, cleaning of the squatter stalls along Fields, flights to/from Korea into Clark Field, SM Clark Mall, etc.  The place really has changed in the short time that I’ve been going.

Another thing you notice about AC is the diversity of tourists who frequent it these days. Guys from literally every corner of the globe.  Brits, Aussies, Yanks, Japs, Koreans, Chinese, Indians, Arabs, Eastern Europeans and more.  But the true history behind AC was the post-WWII alliance between the PI and the U.S. military.  Clark Air Base was the largest U.S. air base outside the continental United States and thousands upon thousands of U.S. service members called it home over a period stretching 40+ years.  I’ve only heard bits and pieces of stories from the old-timers who were there in those days, but every time I do, I find myself yearning for more.

There is just something extremely interesting to me about hearing every little detail about “how it was” in Angeles City’s yester years.  If you’re an AC-nut like me, and you ever get a chance to talk to one of those old AC-vets, ask him to describe some of his experiences from back then.  By all accounts I’ve heard, it was truly a glorious age and I almost find myself wishing I could go back in time to it.  Recently on the message forum, a poster by the nickname of “Longtimer” was kind enough to describe some of his mental highlights from his “glory day” experiences:

“I apologize for showing my age and boring you guys but I’ve had a few and am feeling particularly reminiscent tonight……….rewind to 1969 (Clark) when I was a kid. While hippies and race riots dominated the headlines back home….

50,000 GIs were permanent party or passing thru the PI on the way to (or back from) Viet Nam…….bars to the right of Fields all the way to downtown and bars to the left all the way to McDonalds in Dau, most black guys drank in a half-dozen ratholes just past the Abacan bridge…with ALL the clubs staffed by 25,000 bargirls, most of whom resembled Annette Funicello (Google her, rookies)…….filipina Gloria Diaz won the Miss Universe contest that year, filipina Margie Moran won it again in 1973 right after Bruce Lee died and suddenly everybody was Kung Fu Fighting…The “super” clubs back then had world class live bands that played it all……as I danced to the 30-minute version of The Door’s “Light My Fire” until 4am….rock star strong and handsome, they squealed when I walked in, ….no Go-Go dancers like now but always the “special” shows, including the nastiest shit you can imagine….and, OH! the rock & roll…..three songs for 25 centavos on every juke box and they all had ‘House of the Rising Sun’….a peso for a drink…..and no such thing as “ladies drinks.” But back then a dollar was only worth four pesos….Martial Law and the floods of ‘72…Operation Homecoming when the POWs were released in ‘73 (they stopped here first)…..Carter giving the bases away in ‘79….Aquino’s assassination in ‘83 and the peso rate doubling over night….the People Power revolution in Feb ‘86 followed by a bases employee strike that ended when 100s of bargirls pulled down the barricades that kept the GIs from coming out….the GIs killed by the NPA in ‘87 all over town….and, of course, the eruption of Mt Pinatubo in ‘91, first time since before Ferdinand Magellen was even born……destroying our Sodom and Gomorrah………..BUT NOT FOR LONG……

and how about that on-base Airmans and NCO club? Topless dancers at lunch time…all nude shows with audience participation on membership nights.. slot machines, and back room poker games where I made $1000s fleecing the rookies and transients…

Bad stuff……the gestapo tactics of Merchandise Control….chain-gangs of GIs who committed crimes forced to do slave labor in the hot sun…. having a drunk filipino guy point a .45 calibre in your face downtown….pre-fastfood skinny-ass girls….

There was never really a lot of money to be made on the black market in the PI, other than a few bucks here and there….it sure wasn’t worth ending your career over.Back in the early 70s they “forced” me (Ha!) to go to Thailand for a year. I had government approval to leave my family behind here at Clark…for medical and APO mail only…zero BX/Commissary. When I came back on leave mid-tour, Merchandise Control in its wisdom allowed me to spend $40 (only) which I spent on stateside canned goods. When I tried to take the stuff home thru the main gate, they actually detained me for an hour to verify the purchase and interrogate me as a suspected black marketeer.


This kind of shit was driven by a corrupt, xenophobic Philippine government (long before globalization) that tacked a 100% duty on imports so as not to compete with any of the local cartels ripping off the people.

You guys try to remember yourselves just out of high school. Young, dumb, and full of cum, right? When I got the assignment, had to find a map to find out where they were sending me….and I was PISSED because my dumb silly ass wanted to stay in the States. Arrived on a dry June day in ‘68, and will never forget the blast of hot air in my face as I stepped from the plane. Open bay (no private rooms) barracks, empty because most guys were shacking up downtown. The smiles, the traffic, the noise, khaki uniforms….think of the movie “Good Morning, Viet Nam” except that, in stead of counting the days until we left, a lot of us were trying to find ways to EXTEND our tours. Some even had their girlfriends file bogus charges against them so that, under the Status of Forces agreement, they would be put on “International Hold” and not be allowed to leave the country until the case was settled…which could be years.

And when we finally had to leave for a new assignment, we spent our entire careers either being at or (trying to get back to)… Clark. It was a time and place that fundamentally changed a man, making it really tough to readjust to “normal” life back home. In those days, there were other great places to get laid…Thailand had seven major airbases, Korea was actually cheaper then the PI, Taiwan was paradise, even Okinawa was fun….it was a smorgasbord for GIs, all thanks to the war in Viet Nam. And I often feel guilt about that.

its been a great life….wouldn’t trade it for anything. Going to sleep now. Hope I wake up with my usual hard-on.”

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