Sangley/Cavite

Sangley/Cavite

By Ken Ritter

Sangley/Cavite was different… it was a small base, no ships, one Seaplane Squadron, and a few crews from VQ-1, (usually the same guys), and periodically a crew or two from VW-1, (the “Typhoon Trackers”). I never did figure out exactly how the system worked, and how they decided who got who… but if you were a “regular”, especially if you lived in town, a Shoeshine Boy, a Flower Girl and a Jeepney Driver would soon attach themselves to you, (sorta adopt you as it were), and they would look out for you and take care of you… You could literally pass out in a bar, with money on the bar, the “Bamboo Telegraph” would spread the word to one of them, and they’d take care of you.

The next morning you’d wake up in your house, with your change stuffed in you pocket, and no idea how you got there… It was a great system, wouldn’t have worked in Olongapo, or about anywhere else in the world for that matter, but in Cavite it worked fine… I could probably write a book on Cavite during the mid 60’s, it was so different from what you all knew… For instance there was a 0100 curfew for E-4 and below, unless they had an overnight chit signed by an E-5 or above, (great system, if you had a squared away, hard charging 3rd or Seaman working for you, you could reward him with an occasional overnight without a bunch of questions and paperwork).

Bars all closed at 0130 to 0200, and anyone with authorized overnights had to be off the streets by 0200. Beer was 40 to 80 centavos, the ladies drank beer, but theirs were ₽1 or ₽2, depending on the bar… hardly anyone ever paid a “Bar Fine”… if you went in a bar, saw a girl you liked, you treated her right, bought Mama and her a few “Ladies Drinks”, and she liked you, when the bar closed, if she didn’t have anything else to do, she’d take you home… This was truly the home of the $5 Liberty… you could change $5 to Pesos, go out, get smashed, take a young lovely home, wake up late the next morning, take a Jeepney to the main gate, (10 centavos), grab a quick breakfast of hot Pandesal and ice cold San Magoo from the little Sari Sari Store just outside the gate, get an on base taxi to your hut, (5¢), and still have change…

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