This Philippine City Wants Bases, Despite Their Seamy Side Effects

MANY Filipinos wonder if keeping American military bases is worth it. Not in Olongapo City. A rowdy bazaar of bars, massage parlors, and prostitutes, this honky-tonk town of 250,000 people depends on nearby Subic Bay Naval Station for its economic life.

Olongapo City has paid a high price for its years as a recreation stop for American servicemen. Pornography, child abuse, venereal disease, and drug addiction are widespread, critics of the US facilities say.

Still, the continued presence of the US bases is almost gospel here. ``My position isn't to keep the bases forever,'' says Mayor Richard Gordon. ``But withdrawing them now will simply make for more suffering.''

Owners of the city's many nightclubs, which are interspersed with VD clinics and slums where many the bar girls live, say that business has nose-dived after a spate of attacks on Americans by communist rebels.

The attacks soured relations between the two countries. Fearing further communist-instigated strife, the US government this summer withdrew its Peace Corps volunteers from the Philippines.

US and Philippine officials agree that relations improved a bit after the massive US relief effort for earthquake victims and the return of a kidnapped Peace Corps worker two weeks ago.

But through the ups and downs, Olongapo City has stood by the bases. Carolina, who says she is about 21, waits on the street outside the New Pussycat Disco. The mother of a two-year-old, she says she hopes the base will remain so she can find a husband.

``I hope my daughter and I can go to the United States,'' she says.

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK