LIfe in the Philippines

The exploration of the Philippines have left me in a quandary. i had thought that i could be happy going between my two favorite places, Phuket, Thailand and Komodo, Indonesia forever. Now i have a new favorite place, the Philippines. I find here all the things i love about the other SE Asian countries; the people, the scenery, the cultures, the diving and the wonderful anchorages. Here i find all these things with so few people around, places that would draw hundreds in Thailand have a hand full of visitors. Anchorages that would be packed are empty. I counted four cruising boats in the whole Coron area.

As you may recall from my Christmas posting, Sam found a family whose home was flattened by the typhoon, they lost everything. Sadly corruption and inefficiency have rendered most of the aid impotent so they received not help. Sam organized food, clothing and brought us all to a work party to help rebuild their humble abode. Seeing the futility of recycling material from the old house, i bought the needed roofing material and other things needed. Sam revisited the family and saw the house was up and lived in. She and the other girls helped start a garden with the family.

On other notes, we enjoyed exploring some interesting places and dive sites. We heard rumors of a hidden hot springs and took a look. After poking in and out of a mangrove forest we found the entrance and the springs. Some local boys were working on the stone wall that held the hot water in place. We enjoyed a secluded soak, all the better knowing we were of the few who knew of its existence. We have also revisited favorite spots and developed deep friendships especially with the people at Puerto Del Sol.

The last four of house batteries i have fought for 3 years died leaving us with no house system and running the gen 24/7. I called my good friend Carl French who arranged new Trojan AGM batteries for me in Subic Bay. Subic Bay is a duty free port so no taxes or duty, a good thing! We headed up to the old US Navy base location just north of Manila.

Three times we left from this safe anchorage

The 170 mile trip was easy at first then we hit a weather system at a small east west pass which made for big winds. We tried for two days to get through the pass hitting winds of nearly 50 knots, see the courses we took. We found a sweet anchorage just around the corner where it was calm and beautiful, it was used by local fishermen to escape the winds. On the third day i vowed to make it and we went well off shore to avoid the vortex. We quartered into 35 knots of wind and huge seas but Furthur likes them big and we had not problems except for the penalty for sloppy housekeeping, the boat was a mess hahaha.

The wind vortex

We made it into the well marked port after dark and tied to the Subic Bay Yacht Club dock. The next day we took a look around, the yacht club has been bashed in various blogs for being run down, we found it in pretty good shape. It clearly was built with illusions of grandeur never realized. The girls washed the caked on salt from the boat, even the upper steering wheel was caked in salt and we took a look around the area. We had left very 3rd world Coron and was now in a modern city with all the things we had missed.

i finally got to do a “Hash”! this is an old traditional running club started in Asia by Brit xpats years ago. Carl is a regular and took me along. i was introduced as a virgin hashers and headed off on the trail, saying ON ON all the way. The 6k run took us up a steep hill, down through a marsh and through many small villages where the people cheered us on. the object is to follow the trail led by the “hair” and marked. i got lost a few times but with the gleaming aid of local kids always found my way. i was reminded of the famous time when Mohamed Ali ran in Africa with all the kids, quite moving indeed.

Since the massive US military presence here this area has been famed for its unbelievable sex industry. Again lines have to be crossed and judgments stowed in the bilge if you are going to really know the Filipino people. We went to the epicenter of this phenomena, Angeles, a town dedicated to pleasure. i had read about it and heard some for others but was not prepared for the unbelievable mass of it all. There are hundreds of bars in this town, mostly on two streets, with more beautiful girls than you can imagine. It is estimated that there are 10,000 working girls in this small area. We saw bars with over 200 on several stops. The last place, The Doll House, was the highlight of our tour for it had an organized show. Carl, Chris and i were joined by Carl’s long time girlfriend Abby and my new one, Anna. It is common to take dates on the “bar hopping” expeditions. The show was spectacular, exotically costumed and choreographed. We were totally blown away by the pole dancers, five to a pole and doing gymnastic moves together that defied gravity. We all headed home truly amazed.

Farewell Sam and welcome Maya dinner

This stop also facilitated some crew changes as we are close to Manila. Sam had long planned a trip home, some skiing in the French Alps with her parents. Brrr she will hit a 50C temperature drop when she arrives. She will be gone a month and will surely be missed. We picked up a new girl, Maya, from Chile and i have made a new wonderful friend, Anna, who will leave with us too.

Anna and I

My old buddy Chris has made his yearly retreat from the cold and is on board for a month too.

Chris always enjoys the local culture

Chris and I spent a great day at the pool with these lovely ladies

So after a week of fun, visiting an old friend and making new ones and getting Furthur a make-over we will head back to Coron and finish this Filipino adventure, surely not the last.