There are so many fellows from different walks of life, and many levels of financial security (or insecurity) around here, who, honestly, have one common bond when they find their way to this village ¬¬– that’s the lure of the Filipina (they’ll sometimes develop other reasons as time goes by, but this, with damned few exceptions, is at the root of the attraction). This place is surely as great a testament to the lure of an available, attractive woman as there is in existence. Without them, I probably wouldn’t even know how to spell the name of the country, or even know where it is!
Of the years I have lived here, nearly all of them have been spent living in Angeles City, with the exception of a year and eight months I lived in The Barrio Barretto area of Olongapo City, in the Subic Bay Area.
The Subic Bay Area, at one time a larger bar scene than Angeles City (in the days of the American occupation of the Subic Naval base) is now a substantially smaller scene than Angeles (as of this writing in 2011). Through the years, in my “tourist” days (as well as while I’ve been planted in A.C.), Subic has always been a place I thoroughly enjoyed visiting for a three-day visit. I always wanted to live there, and I finally did, from October 2008 to May 2010.
The secondary lure (everything’s always secondary to the ladies for me!) of The Subic Area was the beaches and being close to the water. I grew up on the West Coast of America, so I take to being around the beach. Leaving the women out of the equation for now, I’ll share what I liked about living in Subic, and what I didn’t.
I enjoy spending the afternoons on the various floating bars. There were three when I was last there, and they all are just fine with me. The “Arizona”, The “Blue Rock”, and “Treasure Island” are all hotels that have floating bars tethered to their beaches. The GROs working on them vary, but mostly they’re good company while hanging out on those floaters. Nothing like this in Angeles City. The most popular beach area for expats is in “The Baloy Beach Area”, though the “Arizona” is quite nice, on the main highway; it does seem a bit windy there, at times, though.
As far as restaurants, there are more of them in Angeles City (as there is more of just about everything) than Barretto, but a very good meal can usually be had at The “Arizona” or “Blue Rock”. There is a lower-budget place just up the street from the corner where Club One is situated, right across the street from the former “Marmont Hotel”; it’s called “Sit & Bull”. This location was the “VFW” in my tourist days, and is known in the area for good solid meals at a reasonable price – it’s where the locals eat. There’s a pretty good English-style fish & chips joint on the main highway called “The Underground”. The “Dryden” restaurant, which once was my favorite place to eat anywhere, unfortunately didn’t survive the transition of Tom Dryden leaving it, but is now a pretty good fast-food-style spot next to The Wet Spot bar, serving a variety of sandwiches, pizza and snack foods. Right across the street from “The Arizona” is a little Filipino spot called “The Coffee Shop”, which makes a very popular taco and taco salad. It’s not the same as if you were eating in Mexico, but it’s a pretty darned decent bite to eat. People’s tastes in what-satisfies-them- in-a-meal vary so greatly that it’s almost pointless to spend much time recommending anyplace. If you ever decide to go/move to Subic you’ll come up with your own preferences, as we all do.
I’ve often been asked about the difference between Angeles and Subic as far as renting a house or apartment. I came away with the impression is that it’s not a lot different. There are more new complexes in the Angeles area. You can pay too much, and good deals can be found in both places. One thing they both have in common is that you’re best off hitting the pavement and looking for places with a sign and phone number out front. Realties and want ads aren’t as dependable as they are in the West for finding something you’d like for a price you’d be willing to pay. Subic landlords are quite fond of having you pay your lease money up front, and will sometimes offer substantial discounts for your ability to pay them a lump sum in advance. I’ve rented in seven different locations in Angeles and one in Subic. I found all of them by word of mouth or just having a look around.
There are quite a few expats leasing in the “Baloy Beach” area, in the neighborhood of the “Blue Rock”, “Wild Orchid”, and “Treasure Island” resorts. They, naturally enough, like to be part of the expat community gathered there, and enjoy its proximity to the better beaches in the area. I, personally, wouldn’t want to live on Baloy Beach because I found it to be a poor value-for-money – you are, in good part, paying for the beach that the rental is close to, which causes the leases to be pretty high for what you’re getting, in a great many cases. I know plenty of guys who are quite happy with what they’ve found on the Baloy Road, so just keep in mind that you can likely get a nicer place for your money if you venture away from this popular area. If you’re willing to pay the price that is, of course, your personal choice. One other thing I dislike about this particular area is the horrible road leading into it. With all of these popular resort hotels in there and the large expat community, I feel it’s downright stupid to not do whatever it takes to get this road paved properly. In the rainy season it often becomes almost un-drivable! The potholes and flooded areas are formidable.
During the rainy season The Subic area is far more flood-prone than Angeles. Where I lived in the “Santa Monica” complex (in close proximity to the “Dreamland Resort” area), the whole complex got flooded for three days once (it hadn’t happened to this degree in over ten years, but once is all it takes)! The water was waist-deep outside of the house I was leasing, and I had 21” of water in my bedroom/toilet/den area on the lower floor. A couple of more inches and the whole living room and kitchen area would’ve been flooded, also. If I ever live in Subic again (which I might) I’ll definitely look for higher ground!