|American Attack Cruiser in Subic Bay|
But not all are happy. One guy in particular is not happy.
Father Shay Cullen.
But let me backtrack a bit and provide some credentials. I am intimately familiar with Olangapo and Subic, having lived about an hour north of there for two years. Olongapo is Gordon territory. The Gordon family rules there, Mayor after Mayor. It is a good rule, in the main. The city is vibrant and comparatively orderly and comparatively clean. Oh sure, it has its axe murderers and thieves like any large burg of 240,000. But it also has its university and its adjacency to the Subic Freeport where one can visit the duty-free Royal Supermarket and get real food, like Spam or California wine.
My son was born in the James L. Gordon Memorial Hospital in Olongapo. That's where I ran frantically in the dark from pharmacy to pharmacy at 2 a.m. buying supplies for my wife's emergency Cesarean. Boy howdy, they don't do it like that in America.
Before I had a car, we'd ride the bus into town. It would go through that mad crush of Subic Town, a port city if ever there were one. Even during the depressing era, bars were the heart of the city. Americans still gather there. It is a watering hole, only there is not a lot of water in the hole.
We'd stop at the Café, a little restaurant across from the Arizona International Hotel, to have breakfast. It was American style, with HASH BROWNS alongside the fried eggs and bacon. The featured item on the dinner menu of the place was a giant taco, about the size of a football. It would feed an entire Filipino family, about ten kids, or one good sized, pot-bellied, crew-cut, ex-Navy American guy.
Those bus rides into town are vivid recollections. I remember the Victory Liner "bus ride from hell" that was packed with about 80 passengers and stopped every block or two. Of course, the lady who wanted off was always at the back, dragging her bags of taro root or kids, and each stop would take a few minutes to offload her. It was hot and smelly and trust me, I did not arrive in Olangapo in good mental condition. Or the "wild banshee" blue bus ride home one afternoon, the lunatic driver thinking he was at the Indy 500, blasting past other buses on the narrow highway doing 100. Meanwhile his conductor was busy pouring buckets of water through an iron trap door in the floor to keep the engine from blowing up.
|Father Shay Cullen|
They don't do it like THAT in America either, unless it is the movies . . . "Speed" comes to mind.
So I'm qualified to talk about this, y'know?
So back to the subject at hand, Father Cullen. Here is his view as stated in the Sydney Morning Herald article entitled "Philippines Divided Over US Return to Subic Bay":
- The anti-child sex crusading priest Shay Cullen plans to mobilise Filipinos to protest against the return of United States forces to the former home of the US 7th Fleet at Subic Bay, north of Manila, 20 years after the Philippine Senate ordered them to leave.
- ''They are coming back and civil society will not tolerate it,'' said Father Cullen, a Columban priest from Ireland who helped whip up anti-American sentiment across the Philippines that forced the US from its two largest overseas military installations at Subic Bay and nearby Clark air base in 1992 and 1991.
Well, yes, by gosh, the Philippines is divided for sure. At least one misguided crank says so.
Here is the Gordon family's view of the situation, extracted from the same write-up:
- ''We're open for business,'' said James ''Bong'' Gordon,the mayor of Olongapo, a city of 240,000 people next to Subic Bay. ''No matter what you call it … a base or semi-permanent hosting or whatever, the US is back and its great news for Olongapo.''
- Twenty years ago Mr Gordon's elder brother, Richard Gordon, the chairman of the Philippines Red Cross and a former senator, led the pro-US campaign to retain the bases, bitterly clashing with Father Cullen.
- ''It was a tragic mistake to shut out the world's most important country at that time,'' Richard Gordon said in his Manila office. ''But people who didn't listen to me then are now running around panicking, saying there's a genuine threat from China and we need a strong alliance with the US.''
So the Philippines is not divided, exactly. Father Cullen is divided from the bigger picture.
I personally think that Father Cullen has good intentions, but his aim is way off. He views the U.S. as the guilty party in child trafficking for sex, rather than poverty instilled by the Catholic Church Dark Ages doctrine. In other words, he ought to be looking within rather than chasing the wrong suspect. He ought to fight the disease, not the symptom.
I also like Mayor Gordon's view of the girls who work the bars:
- Richard Gordon, who was mayor of Olongapo in the 1980s and became head of the Subic Bay Authority which oversaw development of the area when the US forces left in 1992, becomes angry when asked about US personnel attracting prostitutes.
- ''How dare you people come here and call them prostitutes,'' he says. ''They just want to survive … they don't have anything. They don't have a choice.''
I rather think the Father Cullen needs a brain and conscience transplant.
I rather think Richard Gordon has the bigger brain and the bigger heart.
Richard Gordon for Senate, 2013.
Richard Gordon for Senate, 2013.