Monday, April 30, 2012

Harbor Point Review

     Well the Bugle broke down and went for a cruise through the newly opened Harbor Point Mall on SBFZ.  While I don't think there is enough parking for a mall this size that was about the only real complaint.   Currently I would estimate that there is slightly more than half of the occupants are fully opened but you can see numerous signs and adverts telling you that there will be more to come. 

     The mall itself was very nice. Much better than a SM mall by a long shot.  There was places to sit and watch the world go by and overall it was pleasant to the eyes.  The AC was working great even with the doors being opened and closed all the time. The corridors were a bit narower than standard sized malls but I think they did a fairly decent job planning it out.

   One of the most interseting aspects of this mall will be that it is going to have a real effect on the local residents dining options once it is fully opened.  There are signs up for Johnny Rockets, TGIF, California Pizza kitchen, and a ClawDaddy's.   There were at least a dozen smaller places already up and running with themes ranging from Mexican to upscale Sushi joints.  Cabalen (a Filipino eat all you can buffet) was fully packed everytime I walked by there.  Nowhere in our local area is there this kind of dining experience with so many choices to choose from. 

    All in all I will give the place a hearty recommendation once it has all of its establishments up and running.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Traffic Light Part II

Not sure what is up with the traffic light off the new Kalaklan bridge but the Bugle heard that it is out again since Sunday.  Personally, the Bugle can't think of a reason for it to be turned off but motorists beware everyone is running around like there has never been a light there at all.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Leave the Driving to Them

One of the good deals in the country right now is the public bus services. Olongapo to Manila costs just P220 per person and depending on the time of the day takes between two and four hours. That is less than the cost of the tolls one would pay in a private vehicle. Besides price the new buses being used these days are comfortable and relaxing. The air-conditioning is almost too cold. The seats all recline. Reading lights work. Movies are shown on new screens. When stops are made they are at places that have clean comfort rooms and offer a wide variety of snacks. Victory Liner stops at Double Happiness on the way to Manila. For the Baguio voyage there is a Tarlac rest point. The drivers are professional and safe. In the old days none of these things were true. The buses were old, the stops decrepit and the drivers all maniacs. Like many other things the PI is joining the modern world and it is bettering all of our lives.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Eating In

So many places deliver in the Philippines. McDonald's, KFC, Jollibee can all be had at home with a phone call. Fresh Options delivers uncooked chicken, pork and fish to your door.
Then there is the parade of passing vendors in front of the house. At the break of day fresh, warm pandasal bread is available from the boys on bikes. You can feed a family of four for P20. Later in the morning it's taho, a delicious, healthy soy bean soup concoction. For this you give the man your bowl and he fills it up. This is followed by a man pushing a big tub full of cooked corn on the cob. Ice cream bells ring during the heat of the afternoon. Then it's showtime with peanuts and popcorn. If you are really hard core in the evenings you can tuck into the local duck-egg delicacy.... balut. All from your front porch.
On Saturdays a man comes by who sharpens knives and scissors. Another will fix the soles of your shoes or repair your umbrella. The yard boy works Tuesdays. The barber stops by every other Wednesday. The vet just left from giving our new puppy his shots.
This country give a whole new meaning to phrases like 'underground economy' and 'take out.'

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Abandon Ship

What is it up with the dredging ship located in the Kalaklan river just on the other side of the new bridge that SBMA built?  It has been there for at least a couple of years and I have never seen it in operation.  I imagine that they could have used it to dredge the river when the bridge was being rebuilt but then I remembered that they didn't tear down the old bridge they just built a new one alongside it.  Still One would think that at least that part of the river would be fully dredged and maybe allow at least a little bit of flood relief for the locals living alongside the river.  But then again why would the local officials care about flooding they don't live anywhere near the river.  I am sure that if a member of the local ruling clan was in any way inconvienced by flooding that ship would be being used but alas that is not the case so all of those people on the riverbanks will continue to suffer. Maybe next election season they will remember and some new blood will be put into office.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Hot Season

Summer,  Summer time,  It seems like the hot season is upon us for a while.  So the Bugle has decided to put together a quick list of some of the cool bars in the area.  And when we say cool we are only vouching for the presence of AC during the daytime.  Anything else, well the Bugle isn't responsible for that.  Here they are in no particular order:

The General's Command Post
Dynamite Dicks
Westpac Sailor (VFW)
Toucan Pub
Doc's HooYah
The Liberty Call

Most of these places start selling beverages early in the day, some as early as 0800.  So if you want to beat the heat for a short time pop on in and see what is going on. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Hanjin Subic Queued up to be U.S. Navy Servicing Company in Subic

Looks like Hanjin Subic will get the U.S. Navy ship servicing business...

Huntington Ingalls Subsidiary Partners With HHIC Holdings
Press Release
Thursday, April 19, 2012

Virginia Beach, Va. - Huntington Ingalls Industries announced that its subsidiary, AMSEC, has signed an agreement with Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Philippines Inc., a subsidiary of HHIC Holdings Co. Ltd., to work together in providing maintenance, repair and logistics services to the U.S. Navy and other customers in the western Pacific region.

The agreement with HHIC-PHIL allows AMSEC to benefit from Hanjin's state-of-the art shipyard at Subic Bay, Philippines, and accelerate Hanjin's growth into the maintenance, repair and logistics services, as the U.S. Navy increases focus in the Western Pacific region.

"It's great that AMSEC's relationship with HHIC-PHIL has been firmly established," said Harris Leonard, HII vice president and president of AMSEC operations. "I am confident that this important step will expand our efforts in providing quality technical services to our most important customer, the U.S. Navy, wherever they may be operating."

AMSEC LLC is a subsidiary of Huntington Ingalls Industries. With approximately 2,000 employees in 27 locations nationwide and overseas, AMSEC is a full-service supplier to the Navy and commercial maritime industry, providing naval architecture and marine engineering, naval ship systems assessments, maintenance engineering, waterfront maintenance support, acquisition program support, shipyard industrial engineering and C4I installation and support services.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Housing Sales Explains SBMA Few Years of Profit

Comment from a reader on SBMA's losses:
The increase in SBMA’s income stream in 1999 and 2000 was likely a result of Felicito Payumo’s initiative, who was then, the relatively new SBMA Chairman and Administrator. In his attempt to increase SBMA revenues,  chose to divest SBMA’s interests in Freeport housing and encourage the “sale” of residential units in the Zone. SBMA’s original acquisition of housing units, after the departure of the US Navy, totaled 1867 units.  Apart from units already privately leased, and those earmarked for senior SBMA officials other government agencies (BI, BoC and Customs), the remaining housing units were offered to the public in an attractive range of between $27,300.00 to $40,000.00 each, on a long term lease basis of 25 and 50 years.  Several independent developers obtained clusters of derelict units for discounted prices and many individuals acquired them with the intention of renting out and/or reselling at a substantial profit. Needless to say, they were all snapped up in a relatively short period of time thus contributing significantly to SBMA’s revenue. 

From the Bugle: Thanks for the excellent analysis!

Traffic Light Update

It seems like maybe the Bugle is starting to get some pull in our little neighborhood or maybe it is just a coincidence but within a few days of our post about the traffic light being out the powers that be have decided to turn the light back on.  If it was because of our readers then the Bugle would like to thank all of you.  If it was just a coincidence the Bugle would like to thank the respective officials for getting something right after a mere two weeks which must be a record in this country.

Trash in Olongapo

Seems like the Bugle is starting to go big time.  The photo from Good Neighbors has been posted in the Sun Times you can see the picture here. Let us see if that helps in our crusade to clean up our city. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Harbor Point

Get ready folks, the scheduled opening of Ayala Mall's Harbor Point is April 26th.  This is supposed to have over 400 businesses in it.  This information was confirmed by the National Bookstore over near Royal that has already posted signs stating that they will be closed on the 26th.  When I asked the folks at National bookstore what size is the new building and the answer was "much smaller".  Maybe they will be concentrating on books at the new place but figure those odds.  We are probably looking at a glorified school supplies store.  I mean who reads books in the PI?  Hardly any of the local folks as the prices are so high.  This is something that really needs to be addressed in this country.  How can the country raise it's educational standards when the cost of books is so exorbitant?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Sad State of Subic's Airport

Subic's airport has been hemorrhaging financial losses for years, as we all know. 

SBMA's plan to deal with this is to shut it down and turn it into something like Sentosa Island in Singapore, a world class tourist destination. The idea is that SBMA won't simply lease the land, it will be a developer, essentially a partner in the development of the facilities. This will allow SBMA to not just collect on leases but to share in the profits of the project. There is so much wrong with this idea that it is hard to find a place to begin. First off, why in the world would world class investors want to partner with SBMA? It has a long history of financial losses and corrupt practices. SBMA has to bring something more to the table than an abandoned airport to attract investors like Disney theme parks or Wynn casinos. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

SBMA's Losses

Interesting to see how SBMA has lost money near every year of its existence. Except for its first year, and a brief period after 1999, it has been a consistent money loser. Anybody have any idea why it made money during the brief period in 2000?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Traffic Light

At first the Bugle figured that the new traffic light at the end of the Kalaklan bridge was turned off by someone with foresight to help alleviate traffic backing up into the SBFZ during Holy Week.  But alas it was not that way as said light is still not functioning yet.  What has been making matters worse is the local jeepneys and buses that fly right pass the non functioning light ignoring the fact that all vehicles are required to come to a stop at any non-working traffic lights.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

SBMA Can Do A Better Job

Comment from a reader on the state of the Subic freeport: 
First, I would like to thank you for posting your thoughts on things. I have read through your posts and find them interesting/informative.

About your post, I think that you are hitting the nail on the head. I have only lived here now for only 9 months and I see the same thing. 

The SBMA needs to be proactive and stop daydreaming about what they will do and just do something.  If I were to let my house/yard go like some of these commercial tenants have, I am sure that I would have been fined or thrown out in same way. Maybe they could use some type of Fire Hazard excuse, etc... ??

The SBMA needs to be running a PR campaign across several forms of media (radio, TV and the internet). I have read in some of your other posts about a SBMA TV channel for keeping up with what's going on locally but I think that they could go further with the other outlets I have mentioned (for residents and non-residents (tourists) alike). There is a website ( that has a calender for Clark and Subic but is rarely used ( Everything here seems to be word of mouth (just like the rest of the Philippines)..  They need to be promoting the Freeport for what it is, one of (if not the) safest places to live/work in the Philippines. Their campaign should be promoting CLEAN, GREEN and SAFE. I recently read about a local company within the Freeport building solar panels ( and SBMA is looking at implementing this solution (saves $ in the long run). I think that is a step in the right direction but they need to do something (not just study it).  

I agree with you that some tourists may find it interesting to ride a Trike or Jeepney but I am against that. I relish the lack of Trikes/Jeepney's in the Freeport (lack of congestion that they create, smoke belching, failure to obey simple rules of the road i.e. the infamous trike Uturn out of nowhere without any signals (hand or electric)).

 However, if I was the SBMA, and I were so inclined to allow these vehicles on the base for "tourist" applications I would do it in the following fashion;
1. Create a special SBMA sticker/license for Commercial Operators.
2. Allow a very limited number of these licenses (maybe 20 Jeepneys/40 Trikes??)
3. Impose strict guidelines for said vehicles (no pollution mobiles). Jeepneys would have to be LPG powered and Trikes would have to be 4 stroke. Any huge smoke cloud producers would lose their "Operator License" or "Business License" until the vehicle is operating within the guidelines (fully functioning brakes/lights, turn signals, headlights and lack of smoke).
4. Create a penalty system (similar to the driver's license point system in the States) to address the Chronic Problem children (that can't obey traffic laws/SBMA guidelines and refuse to maintain their vehicles).
5. These vehicles would be restricted from all of the housing areas.
6. These vehicles would only be allowed to stop at designated spots (no stopping at a corner, then driving 20 feet and stopping again).

I think that a banca boat going back/forth between Camayan and the Pier1 area might be a viable idea. But again, you have to promote safety and strict guidelines need to be observed (life vests that actually work, no overloading of boats, etc.).

Bottom line; can the SBMA do a better job? Yes... Will they? most likely not.

I am not venting but just wanted to give my 2 cents worth...  

Feel free to post my thoughts on your blog if you want (but do not include my email address)..

From the Bugle: Thanks for the thoughtful comments. Keep them coming and they will help improve Subic. And don't worry, we won't publish your and any other commenter's email or identity. We care about what you have to say, not who you are.  

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

SM Olongapo not part of the freeport

Comment from a reader on the post SBMA Investments:

Correction  – SM Olongapo has nothing to do with the Freeport, nor its committed investments. It is within the confines of the City of Olongapo.  As such, it derives none of the tax incentives or other perks provided to SBMA locators.

On the other hand, Harbor Point (Ayala) is a SBMA locator and its committed investment is reflected in your SBMA Key Performance Indicator pie chart.

From the Bugle: Thanks for the clarification!

Monday, April 16, 2012

SBMA Investments

Interesting to see how foreign investments in the Subic Freeport have tumbled over the years. The concept of the freeport was that it would be a haven of low taxes, honest practices and good government for foreign investors. Much of the local investment figures for 2011 are likely related to the building of the two big malls, but those malls have nothing to do with the freeport. Olongapo has grown to the point that Ayala and SM decided they could make a profit putting in malls.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

PNP Checkpoint

The Bugle came across the following advisory the other day and thought it would be worth passing on to his fellow readers. Most of the info is common sense but I do like the points about them not being able to actually search inside as it is only a visual search. The complete article can be found here.

The 10-point advisory follows:

• A checkpoint must be well-lighted, properly identified and manned by uniformed personnel. Upon approach, slow down, dim headlights and turn on cabin lights.

• Never step out of the vehicle.

• Lock all doors. Only visual search is allowed.

• Do not submit to a physical or body search.

• You are not obliged to open the glove compartment, trunk or bags.

• Ordinary/routine questions may be asked. Be courteous but firm with answers.

• Assert your rights, have presence of mind and do not panic.

• Keep your driver’s license and car registration handy and within reach.

• Be ready to use your cellphone at any time. Speed-dial emergency number.

• Report violations immediately. Your actions may save others.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

SBMA Needs to Clean Up and Shape Up

Comment from a reader on the state of the Subic Freeport:
SBMA could have a lot to offer for businesses and tourists alike.  It just needs a "can do" attitude and a little creative thinking.

First of all, it is a fact that previous administrations without any type of vision, dedication and competence let the place fall into disarray.  However the officials also seem to be afflicted with the "I can't do anything about it disease".  There must be close to a hundred failed enterprises that was meant to go up on those old leases which are now just rusted remnants or old buildings, with weeds, all types of debris, fallen down fences and a complete eyesore.  I would assume that if the officials cannot invalidate the leases, then the least they can do is ensure that the properties are cleaned up similar to what is expected in the housing areas.  Failure to do so should come with fines set to a level which would make it incumbent on the owners to make the proper adjustments.  If not, then there very well may be clauses in those leases that would invalidate the lease if the owners do not comply, etc

Tourism is a source of revenue, but somehow I'm not sure that SBMA is ready for that.  Tourist want to ride in a tricyle or in a jeepney but there is none allowed.  Tourists want to see nice scenery, but they will get an eyeful of all those rusted and falling down buildings. Tourists want to buy a t-shirt from a vendor - nope now. Tourists may want to ride a banca boat or go to a lively night spot.  About the best thing going now is the Zoobic safari area, etc.  Then there is the problem of how to provide transportation to 1500 people on a regular basis. And if they want to see the local lifestyle, then they cross the bridge into Olongapo and say "what the hell just happened?"

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Frolic in Zambales this Weekend

FLEET RESERVE ASSOCIATIONSan Miguel Branch 367East Dirita, San Antonio, 2206, Zambales,
Phone / Fax: 63 47 913-3901

Our biggest party of the Year!
April 13: Kid’s Day
Games and entertainment for kids
Open Mic with live music
April 14: Chili Cook-off
‘A Family Affair’
Live music and adult games
April 15: Beauty Contest
Live music and more adult games
10:00 am till after sundown
Jam session daily: bring your talent!

Kindle in the PI

The Bugle has been hearing a lot of good about the Kindle E-book readers that are being sold by Amazon. He has also heard about the negatives but he figured what the hell the ability to carry thousands of books on a small lightweight device was worth the risk. So he tried to purchase one on Amazon. He figured there would be no problem as Amazon will ship books to the Philippines. Alas the Kindle must have some kind of amazing computing capability as Amazon refuses to ship one to a Philippine address. I didn't know that the PI was considered some kind of haven for computer geeks that would be able to reverse engineer the whole thing and make some kind of thermo-nuclear device. Or maybe it is those darn Chinese we wouldn't want them to get ahold of this kind of technology. Oh wait a minute you mean to tell me that these Kindles are produced in China. Then what could possibly be the reason that Amazon won't ship one over to me?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Top 10 Things the Bugle Likes About Subic

There was a big brouhaha down Cebu way the other week when an American posted a video on YouTube about the top 10 things he hates about the Philippines. Once the video went viral he faced a bit of a backlash from the local officials. Some wanted him declared Persona Non Grata and kicked out of the country while others agreed with what was said and quietly directed the relevant officials to fix what could be fixed. In a reaction to this video the Bugle would llike start a list about what he feels is good about living here in the Subic region. So here we go:
10. The Bay
9. The Prices
8. The Local Markets
7. The SBFZ
6. The lack of violence
5. The ability to converse in English
4. The Breeze from the bay
3. The many beachfront bars and restaraunts
2. The SCTX
And the top reason that the Bugle loves living in this area....
1. SMB is 412 pesos a case

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Dental Service at a Hospital??

The other day the Bugle had reason to avail of a dentist but as it was a weekend and he had no appointment finding a local dentist with an opening was not an easy task.  I was thinking that I might have to drive into Olongapo to find an available dentist when I noticed a Dental services sign in front of the Our Lady of Lordes hospital.  I figured I might as well check it out and see what they had.  After getting directions from the front desk I wlked downstairs and entered the dental office.  Mildy surprised I was not.  A fairly large dental office with 3 or 4 dental chairs and all of the latest dental gadgets.  But best of all there was no waiting.  I was taken right in and had a dentist start examining my teeth to get to the root of the problem.  So next time you need to avail of some dental services you might want to save some time and start at your local hospital.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Surveillance Camera Hot Zone

If you enjoy being videotaped while you are in a night club, check out the Hot Zone in barrio barreto. For some strange reason, the owner thinks he needs to blanket the club with video cameras. I guess this is less work than actually managing the bar. This way he can just review the tapes. I guess he can also put the his customers on youtube or sell them the videotapes of themselves in his nightclub. The girls say he even videotapes the customers in the toilet. Unless you like being videotaped, AVOID THE HOT ZONE!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter in the Philippines

     One of the most interesting times of the year in the Philippines is Holy Week.  Where else can you see penitents marching by your house whipping themselves bloody, being beaten by so called friends, and carrying crosses.  You can view images here courtesy of the Telegraph. 
     My only real problem with this time of the year is that you have to do a lot of planning.  Increase your travel times as one never knows when you may come across a procession of people beating themselves.  Additionally make sure you have all of your banking issues taken care of as the banks will all close for a minimum of five days. Ensure you have money in your pockets because with the influx of visitors all of the ATMs will be out of money even though the all banks have been directed to keep their ATMs full of cash.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Good Neighbors

This pile of rubble is in front of Buenaventura compound in Barrio Barretto. It is across the street from Mango's, Arlene's and Hot Zone.
Buenaventura is home to some 20-30 rental units. Previously they used a deep well for their tenant water needs. They recently installed city water for those rentals necessitating a pipeline from the street. The resulting trench was 80 meters long, two feet deep and a foot wide.
The rubble you see along National Highway is what they dug up and dumped with a wheelbarrow on a public thoroughfare.
The question here is where is government when private persons selfishly endanger and inconvenience the public? This is the exact purpose of the barangay council and Olongapo city officialdom. It is not like they can't see it or notice it.
How many times do you suppose the mayor or barangay captain have passed this eyesore? Mister Baloy? Mister Gordon?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Carlito's Folly

A reader of the Bugle sent in the below question.  This structure was built by the barangay council in Barretto over a year ago. Does it have a purpose? Are security guards or tourist police supposed to be manning it? It is identified as an "outpost." It is locked and no one has ever been seen in it. With all the car scratching and tire vandalism that goes on in that area a few cops deployed might be a good idea.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Answers About Subic

Comment from a reader on the post Questions for SBMA:
I am not an official of SBMA but I am a longtime resident of the freeport so I'll take a shot at answering your questions:
 - why do folks have to pay to drive into SBMA from either the SCTX or from the old Gapon road when there is no charge for the other entry points?
There is no charge to enter SBMA from that side. You are not paying to enter, you are paying to use the tollway for the Tipo highway. 
 - Where does the toll money go and for what purpose?
The toll money goes to "maintain" the tollway and into the pocket of the private company operators. As this blog has written about repeatedly, the old Tipo tollway is an embarrassment to Subic and needs to be incorporated into SCTEX. 
 - Why does SBMA have services for registering for an Gate Pass, ID, Vehicle sticker, etc - whereas Clark does not seem to have those requirements?
Clark has these same things but since Clark was largely destroyed by the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo and the perimeter gates were damaged and breached, traditionally access to Clark has not been as closely controlled as the Subic Freeport. Volunteers tightly secured the Subic base area when the US Navy left and at one time - in the 1990s - it really was like you were entering a different country when you came on base.  The streets were clean, traffic laws tightly enforced, police did not take bribes. SBMA tightly controlled vehicle and pedestrian access in order to maintain security on the base. Keeping the base secure and orderly helps attract investors who want their families to live in safe and comfortable surroundings. When Fedex was based in Subic, there were family members of more than 80 American pilots and Fedex was very security conscious.

 - Clark's website shows upcoming events with dates, times and venues, whereas SBMA's website has very little in that regard?
SBMA does not have the budget to maintain a modern, regularly updated website. Like many aspects of the freeport, the website has been mismanaged and there have been allegations of corruption associated with the re-design of the website.
 - Why is it almost impossible to get any information on the repair or re-opening of the main gate bridge to vehicle traffic?
SBMA administrator Robert Garcia addressed this during the last State of the Freeport address. Basically, he said what we all know. SBMA is broke. Dead broke in fact. SBMA lost 1.2 billion pesos last year and has lost 7 billion pesos in the last two decades. SBMA can't afford to fix the main gate bridge and apparently can't convince SM or Ayala malls to fix it.  

 - What is the status of available Golf in SBMA?
The golf course is back open. I'm not sure of the rates for walk ons. After making big claims about a Korean investor turning it into a "world class" course, it looks like that was just another Subic investment scam and after the destroying the very nice base course they are rebuilding what looks like a rudimentary course.
 - What is the reason for not allowing personal motor bikes on SBMA?
Personal motorbikes, including those with the mufflers removed that blast around the housing areas and bother people, are allowed in the freeport. Helmets are required and the law is enforced. Only tricycles are banned from the freeport, as are jeepneys, unless they are being used for personal use. 
 - There are a number of dilapidated buildings and areas on SBMA.  Is there a plan to clean up and utilize those areas?
As Mr. Garcia noted his address, many of these areas are locked up in old, low-paying leases. The tenants control the space but are not using it. For the buildings under SBMA control, Garcia has ordered "Operation Facelift" to tidy these up but he noted that due to government procurement delays it takes him six months to order five buckets of paint.
 - And finally, why is getting information on these types of questions and others a lot like pulling teeth from a chicken.
There is a video of Garcia's address being played nightly on the base TV channel. Not sure if it is being played elsewhere but it is an unusually honest assessment of the problems on the base. Garcia clearly has an incentive to outline the problems in detail because he wants to show what he has inherited from the last SBMA administration, which mismanaged the freeport terribly and let it fall to the lowest depths of corruption that we have seen since the turnover form the Navy.

These are dark days for Subic. As Clark booms, the next few years will likely decide whether or not Subic can stay intact as a freeport.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Absentee Doctors of Baypointe

We needed to take my son to a specialist doctor recently so we called Baypointe. They helpfully found a specialist on their rolls and made an appointment for us. The secretary then called us 3 or 4 times to verify that that we would be there. That was annoying but we appreciated her diligence. When we showed up for our appointment, the doctor decided it wasn't worth his time to be there. The secretary told us we were the only patient so he decided not to come. Despite the repeated calls, we were never told in advance. My elderly father has had the same experience at Baypointe. The lazy, undisciplined Baypointe doctors show up when they feel like it and never go out of their way to show up for work if their waiting room is not full. When Baypointe medical center came to Subic, a lot of us had high hopes. Subic has not had a proper private hospital since the US military left and closed down the Cubi hospital. Baypointe was hyped as a modern, private hospital with links to facilities in Manila. But just like the string of hospitals that tried to take over Cubi, Baypointe has been a disappointment. It's not a hospital, it's a building that doctors sometimes visit.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Turning Cashiers into Beggars

Comment from a reader on the post Smaller Bills Sir:
I have always been confused and frustrated the fact that businesses - even big companies - often don't have change. It's like every store in the Philippines operates like a liquor store in a bad neighborhood - the cashier carries no cash. When I worked cashier at a fast food place while growing up, we were given a "cash drawer". This had an exact collection coins, bills, etc. At the end of the day, I had to re-assemble my cash drawer for the morning cashier the next day. This made sure that every cashier had change for customers every day. This is how most retail businesses operate. It's pretty simple. Here in the Philippines, the cashiers start with nothing then they beg for coins and bills from their customers all day. This is bad management and poor customer service. A friend of mine years ago moved back to the United States and he joked: "I'm moving to a country where people have change." I'm not ready to make that move, but c'mon Philippine managers: get your sh** together and give your cashiers change in the morning!

Monday, April 2, 2012

No More Land in the Freeport?

The 2012 State of the Freeport address by administrator Robert Garcia was enlightening. It was one of the most frank and honest assessments we have ever heard of the problems facing the Freeport. He made many good points about how essentially the freeport has failed since the departure of Fedex and other marquee investors. One very interesting point he made is that the freeport is essentially out of large tracts of available land to offer investors. Though its land area is larger than Singapore, the vast majority of that is protected. Much of the rest of it is locked in low-cost old leases. During a recent visit to Taiwan, Garcia said he had investors asking for 20 to 30 hectares of land. He had nothing to offer. He said during the address that there is 140 contiguous hectares along Tipo Highway but it is rocky, difficult to develop land. The rest of the available land for lease is in 2 to 6 hectare batches in off-prime areas. His hands are tied to solve this problem, he says, because the old 50 year leases, some of it locking up land that is not being used, are contracts that cannot be violated. He said in his address that one of the solutions to increase revenue without leasing out new land will be to focus on tourism development. That is very welcome news. Tourism is clean revenue that enhances the reputation of Subic and benefits not only the freeport but surrounding areas as well. Of course, how the giant coal-fired power plant that they are building near Grande Island fits into the tourism scheme is still a mystery. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Subic Freeport to be Turned Over to Olongapo City

The Bugle has learned from reliable sources in the national government that due to SBMA's poor performance and lagging prospects as a freeport, it will be disbanded and turned over to Olongapo City, which will incorporate it as part of the city. This has been confirmed by top Subic and Olongapo officials.

Olongapo City police will now enforce traffic rules and tricycles and jeepneys will now ply their routes inside the freeport. Vendors will be allowed to set up shop on freeport sidewalks and banca boats will be encouraged to operate in the area in front of the Boardwalk.

The Bugle has only one reaction to this news...

April Fools!