Thursday, January 31, 2013

It’s More Fun in Subic?

SBMA recently got rid of all plastic take out shopping bags. You now either bring your own reusable bags or they give you paper. Plastic bags, hell plastic anything fouls the environment forever. Just here in Subic it clogs rivers, ditches and canals. It stops ship and boat propellers. It kills fish. We all hate the floods but plastic contributes to the problem. The other factor are the Neanderthals that toss this stuff on the ground in the first place. If you see any morons doing this it is ok to punch them in the face.   

Keep up the Good Work Bugle!

Comment from a reader on You Screwed Up Bugle: I have been working in the Philippines for over 20 years and still learn a lot of useful stuff from the Bamboo Bugle's discussions. Keep up the good work!

From the Bugle: Thanks for the good word and thanks for contributing. Community contributions is what drives the blog.

If You Need Medical Care, Get Away from Subic

Comment from a reader on We Earned Our Benefits Internet Tough Guy : Most of us were duped into believing that Health Visions was legit. My daughter had an accident. The Health Visions Hospital sent an ambulance to pick her up and they treated her at the Health Visions emergency room. How were we to know that they overbilled? We depend on Tricare to properly manage and regulate the services providers. Obviously someone was asleep at the wheel but don't blame the unwitting patients who only seek medical care. We now have very little decent health care in our area available to us thanks to Tricare and their draconian methods. Have you visited Gordon Mortuary (Oh, I mean Hospital) lately? A disgrace. My advice, if you are sick, go to St. Lukes in Manila or Bumrungrad in Bangkok- if you can stay alive long enough.

From the Bugle: Or you can go to Baypointe. It’s a nice building. No doctors around but the building is nice.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Go to Thailand for Health Care

Comment from a reader on the post: If you don’t like Tricare Philippines, Give up the Party and Go Home : Other then normal health care issues which cost is minima I would go to Thailand for any major health concern. Thailand hospitals like Bumrungrad will accept TRICARE at the 25% co-pay. 

The US left the Philippine Bases Because they Didn’t Want to Pay Extortion

From a reader: The US did not abandon Clark, Subic or Cubi Point.  The US Gov't refused to pay the extortion fee that the Philippine Congress requested, so the Philippine Congress kicked us out. Now the Koreans own Subic/Cubi Point and you can read weekly about locals dying at work because of the lax safety rules.  This is after FEDEX left the Philippines and headed to China. General Motors wanted to set up a plant in the Philippines to build cars especially for the Asian market. The Philippine Gov't wanted too much extortion money so GM went elsewhere. Disney INC was exploring opening up a park in the Philippines.  Again the extortion money was too much.  They also went elsewhere...

Those People Died Because of Poor Fire Prevention By Dryden Hotel

Reason for the victims in Drydens is because it has the worst fire-prevention. The rescue came in time but the victims didn’t have a chance. Comment from a reader on: Who is to Blame?

From the Bugle: It will be interesting to read the results of the official investigation. Hopefully we'll get access to it. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Wasted Effort

Comment from a reader on Thank you Commander-in-Chief! :The downside is that most of the money will be corrupted away.

From the Bugle: Generally, that’s true. Most defense money goes straight into the pocket of the defense contractors and the retired generals who run them, rather than toward those who serve but how will they steal the paltry budget for keeping up a small cemetery? 

You Screwed Up Bugle

Comment from a reader on: We Earned Our Benefits Internet Tough Guy : You screwed up. You took it from an issues-based blog when you started preaching on morality and personalities of many in the community by insinuation. This was supposed to be about veteran insurance coverage - but that went out the window with the comments. I believe you will hear more on this...

From the Bugle: So what we censor this guy’s opinion because you don’t like what he has to say? You attack the blog because we run this guy’s opinion? The contributor of this comment is a retiree in the United States commenting on retirees in the Philippines. We have to censor him because he offends your sensibilities? Sorry buddy but you don’t control the opinions of others. They have a right to sound off on this blog as much as you. If you are only interested in hearing opinions that agree with your own, you’re reading the wrong blog.

Monday, January 28, 2013

The Rail System that will never happen

From a reader: The Gov't has been talking about a high speed rail system from Clark to downtown Manila for 20 years.  When you exit Angeles City on the expressway look over to the left and you'll see some track still there.

Olongapo Fish Kill

THE KALALAKE RIVER where a fish kill happened last week ROBERT GONZAGA

OLONGAPO CITY—Fish along the Kalalake River here floated dead on Tuesday night, providing free food to residents who live beside the river that empties into Subic Bay.
But authorities are looking into allegations the fish kill was due to Subic firms operating near the river.
Kalalake Village head Randy Sionzon said manufacturing facilities within the Subic Bay Freeport which operate near the river allegedly “pour their waste into the drainage canals that lead to here.”
“We’ve been complaining about this to the Subic Bay Management Authority Ecology Center since last year,” he said.
Lynda Vergara, 65, said her household as well as other families here have been harvesting dead fish since Tuesday night. “It smells of oil. We would put salt on the fish, but you can’t take the taste of oil away,” she said.
Dante Ramos, head of the Olongapo City environment sanitation and management office, warned residents against eating the dead fish. He said water samples need to be taken to determine the cause of the fish kill, the first in the city.
The fish kill extended to other villages. Pag-asa village head Jimmy Pasag said residents told him tilapia turned belly up in their part of the river. Sionzon claimed that manufacturing firms in the Subic Industrial Park may be responsible for “the discharge of oil, grease, sometimes even paint, and other chemicals in the water.”
He said domestic sewage from Olongapo City households also flow into the river. He said the city government “regularly sends cleaners here who pick up the garbage floating in the river.”
“But there’s really nothing they can do about the chemicals [in the water],” village officials said.
The Inquirer learned that the Subic Water and Sewerage Co. (Subicwater), which services the free port’s locators, also dumps wastewater into the river near Barangay Banicain here.
Hernan Habacon, Subicwater spokesperson, said his company has a discharge permit and “our effluent is treated, within permissible limits set by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.”
“This means [the discharges are] harmless,” he added. Robert Gonzaga,

Sunday, January 27, 2013

We Earned Our Benefits Internet Tough Guy

Comment from a reader on the post: If you don’t like Tricare Philippines, Give up the Party and Go Home : Who the f… are you? I don't take any part in anything you have mentioned, however these guys have earned the right to do whatever it is they wish to do. They were guaranteed health care for serving their country. Do you think they got rich by being in the military? Who made you Judge and Jury for all the retirees here? I would love to meet up and discuss this in person with you if you even have the balls, or are you just another one of those internet tough guys? You can reach me at (name deleted) if you'd like to set something up

From the Bugle: Guys we are an issues-based blog, not a personalities-based blog. That’s why we keep everything anonymous. Your ideas stand or fall on their merits.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

If you don’t like Tricare Philippines, Give up the Party and Go Home

Comment from a reader: Having experienced the corruption of TRICARE in the Philippines, when the U.S. citizen owned "Health Visions" was ripping the government off to the tune of millions, Philippine doctors building mansions from submitting fraudulent claims (right there in Barrio Barretto) and the retirees for the most part in cahoots with it all, there is no pity for them. What you basically have is a bunch of old men still trying to live like they are 18 years old, partying every night, barfining young girls and looking for any way to get over the system, as they are on a fixed budget that gets overextended monthly. If they do not like the deal that TRICARE is offering, then get out of that dump, get a job and start living a moral life.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Tricare Debacle

Comment from a reader on the post: Tricare Public Meetings Were Not So Public: Anyone could attend. More important is the misguided program that is being forced on us that morphs into a worse and worse debacle as time goes on. Go here to keep in touch with the developments: 

From the Bugle: It is unfortunate that a few individuals based here in Subic defrauded the Tricare program of millions (tens of millions!) of dollars and have jeopardized it for everyone. Some of us were complicit in their schemes, some of us weren't, but none of us took action to report them. They were discovered by investigators in the United States reviewing the claims being submitted from the Philippines. 


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Thank you Commander-in-Chief!

Comment from a reader on the post: Good Job VFW: And thank you to Commander-in-Chief Obama for another action to take care of veterans. While his predecessor liked to talk about how much he supported the troops, his actions were to send them into combat in Iraq with faulty armor and to let Walter Reed hospital fall into disrepair when wounded vets needed it most. Supporting our fallen comrades in the Philippines is another indicator of President Obama's support for our troops. When it comes to supporting veterans, Obama doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks to walk. Thank you, sir!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

This building is a trap!

Comment from a reader on the post: The Girls Who Died in the Fire Didn't Register so They Remained Nameless: Same place, same situation. I stayed at this place in May 2011, on the 2nd floor. I rented one of the 2 available balcony-rooms with street view. I stayed there 3 nights. I was in fire service for 30 yrs. The only option for me is a balcony room. Otherwise I would not stay there. I told the management in May 2011: This building is a trap! No real safe and working and protected fire exits, no smoke detectors, bars on the ground floor. My God. I told the manager: If there is a fire you get victims. And he was asking what to do. I told him all things which needed to be done. At first: smoke detectors. And he should ask his local fire department for advice. It seems nothing happened.

Liquor Ban??

The Bugle just read this article in the Inquirer and figured that our readers had better start stocking up.  Not really sure why the MMDA wants to get in on banning alcohol but we personally feel that this would hurt a lot of our local businesses.

Calling the two-day liquor ban too short, Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chair Francis Tolentino on Sunday called on the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to extend the ban to five or 10 days at least.
In a radio interview, Tolentino said the poll body has the power to prohibit the sale and drinking of alcoholic drinks beyond the two-day period prescribed in the Omnibus Election Code—on the eve of the elections and on Election Day itself.
Earlier, the MMDA asked Comelec to impose a 45-day liquor ban to help reduce the number of drunk-driving accidents and drinking-related violence. The proposal, however, was turned down by Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. who said the suggested period was too long and would have a negative effect on the business of some establishments. But he added that he was open to a five to seven-day liquor ban.
Tolentino said that they respected the decision of Brillantes but expressed hope that he would be amenable to a 5 to 10-day ban.
Meanwhile, he reiterated that some politicians, especially in the provinces commonly use alcohol to engage in a form of “vote buying.”
“Most of the free liquor will be coming from politicians,” he said.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Fire Victims Were to Marry

Comment from a reader on the post: The Girls Who Died in the Fire Didn't Register so They Remained Nameless: One of my friends went up there to ID two of the bodies. The girl who died with the American was from Jolo. They were supposed to get married the following week. Very sad situation. Her family has been notified.

Overseas Retirement is More Than Beer and Women

Comment from a reader:

The choice to live overseas is an option available to any retiree. I strongly resent the implication that I am here for cheap beer and companionship. I do not drink and have been married to the same lovely wife for 37 years. The vast majority of retirees here are married and are either raising families or just enjoying the weather and the slower pace of life. As for Tricare, DODIG told Tricare they were being defrauded and Tricare elected to ignore the report and continue paying the fraudulent biller. Years later, when Congress finally questioned them, they first cut off all benefits entirely in the Philippines and then started draconian measures to punish the retirees here. Here in the Philippines we have Certified Provider lists that tell us which doctors we can use if we wish to be reimbursed. These lists are often outdated, and specialties are misidentified to the point of being virtually useless. Addresses are given as Pampanga province which means that somewhere in the province there is possibly a doctor by that name who is Certified. We are also gifted with a Country CMAC (Champus Allowable Maximum Charge) that is pegged at .52 of Stateside charges and has not been updated in years. Since the charges were based on the Philippine Peso at 52 to the dollar, and it is now 41 to the dollar, we get to eat the difference. You should be happy with what you have now in other countries, for soon, if Tricare is successful here in the Philippines, you will be gifted with the same policies.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Little Accountability

Comment on the post Subic Murder: If Local news media is anything like most other companies and businesses, there was not a report on this crime because their boss did not actually tell them to get a story. There is little accountability to keep a job once someone is hired. So my guess is, they just could not be bothered to do their job as they get paid just the same for doing nothing.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Good Job VFW

Obama OKs $5m for vets' cemetery in Philippines

LOS ANGELES -- U.S. President Barack Obama has signed a bill restoring the Clark Veterans Cemetery, where 650 Philippine Scouts and thousands of American war veterans are buried.
The cemetery, located in the former Clark Air Base in Pampanga, will be restored and maintained by the Virginia-based American Battle Monuments Commission, which maintains 24 other overseas military cemeteries and several memorials, monuments and markers honoring US war veterans.
"Clark Veterans Cemetery is sacred ground, and the brave Americans who are buried there deserve a dignified and well-maintained final resting place," said bill sponsor Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) in a press statement. "I'm so pleased that President Obama signed this bill into law, which will ensure that our country keeps its promise to forever honor these heroes," he said.

With the eruption of Mount Pinatubo and the departure of the United States from Clark, the Clark Veterans Cemetery was left to the care of volunteers who relied on donations to maintain the grounds. There has not been enough money to repair the damage wrought by Pinatubo and remove the volcanic ash that still covers many grave markers.

Currently, maintenance is provided by VFW Post 285, a volunteer effort that is commendable but limited, according to the Clark Veterans Cemetery Restoration Association (CVCRA). The nonprofit organization worked hard to get the US government to take responsibility for the cemetery.
The CVCRA said the cemetery had not been maintained "to the standards befitting those veterans who sacrificed and served their country."
The new law, cosponsored by Sen. Ayotte and Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and signed by President Obama on Thursday (Friday in Manila), appropriated $5 million (about P200 million) for the cemetery's restoration.

The remains of 8,600 individuals are buried in the cemetery, according to the CVCRA. The earliest recorded burial was that of Pvt. Santiago Belona, a Philippine Scout who served in the US Army and died on Jan. 13, 1900.
In addition to the 650 Philippine Scouts, there are thousands of war veterans who served in every American conflict since the Spanish-American War, including the Philippine-American War, World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War and Iraq War. There are also over 2,100 unknowns buried at the cemetery, the CVCRA said.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Beach Bash!

The Veterans of Foreign Wars  (VFW) will hold its 21st annual Beach Bash at Driftwood Beach in Barretto February  6-10.

The 3-days of fun and frolic raises funds to support the many charities of the local veterans’organization, headed by Post Commander Dennis Doty.

This year's events will include a Battle of the Bands, talent & variety contests, Miss Beach Bash & Little Miss Beach Bash, as well as well known local bands. A parade featuring bands, marching units, floats students and dignitaries will be held Saturday morning. 

As always, after a few beers in the blazing sun, and a few sausages, there will be a blood pressure booth and a nurse on hand.

The VFW supports student scholarships, medical and  dental outreach programs, aids many families and widows of vets who  chose to live here, as well as other programs to aid their friends and neighbors.

Tricare Public Meetings Were Not So Public

They had so called public meetings. Only a select few could attend. I believe the Subic area was limited to 50 attendees. Comment from a reader on the post: Retirees unhappy with new Tricare system in Philippines

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Know Your Rights at Checkpoints

Great information from the website Rappler. Print this out and put it in your vehicle.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Foreigner Killed in Front of V-Max

Comment from a reader on the post: Subic Murder  A bargirl murdered by boyfriend isn't going to make the news if a foreigner killed in front of V-Max doesn't reach the threshold of attention.

From the Bugle: Please provide more information on the V-Max incident and we’ll give it more attention.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Subic Golf Tournament

Request for Sponsorship
Dear Sir / Ma’am:
Greetings from Subic Golf By SubicLeisureWorld Inc. We cordially invite you to our 1st member’s tournament since Subic Golf formally reopened last January 1, 2012, a great way to start the year and to celebrate our Anniversary. The tournament will be on January 26, 2013, Shotgun start 1PM and Dinner awarding at 6PM.

Tournament Calendar:
January 26- Members Tournament
February 23- Members and Guests /Ladies Tournament
March 30- Fundraising Tournament for the Subic Bay Aetas
April/May - Junior Golf Tournament

We hope that you find this a great opportunity for your company to receive additional exposure.

v  Major Sponsor:
·         Hole in One Sponsor- “Major Prize Pledge”
·         1 Hole Sponsorship of the day event - Php10, 000
-      Extended rights to retain sponsorship for 3 consecutive tournaments
Just add – Php15, 000

SPONSORSHIP OPTIONS for 12 Awards at Stake
v  Minor sponsor:
·          Recognition Awards - Trophy and Plaque - Php 5,000
·         Other prizes and gift certificates - Php 3,000
Sponsor Benefits:
Your company logo on tournament tarp as proud sponsors of the event.
Reference in all promotional materials for the event.
Opportunity to extend promotional activities in the event.
Also it will forever be as reference since all of our tournament event will be published on our website. Subic Golf site will be up on the WWW this month.
For updates of Subic Golf see
We already have 13 Holes this month, and completion of the other 5 holes forecast around April or May 2013-1 year Yardage Marker Sponsorship will be available soon.
We appreciate your consideration and look forward to hearing from you soon. Please mail your commitment letter back promptly.
Should you have any questions, feel free to call +63 (047) 252-9419   
+63 918- 4194- 035    +63 905-3327- 842

Yours sincerely,
Althea Nicart
Marketing Manager
Subic Golf

You Can't Compare the Gun Situation in the US to the Philippines

Comment from a reader on the post: Criminals in the Philippines Would be More Heavily Armed if they Could Afford It : In the Philippines, it is all of it, spotty gun control, economic desperation, criminals, political, revenge, alcohol and drugs, moral abyss, legal system/law enforcement inadequate to the challenge, poor impulse control, and nuts...similar to many countries with lots of guns, and then add in the Third World nature of things...but to say the violent Philippines is either more "lawful" (hah!) than the US or has better gun control than even the gun happy US is so wrong.

Who is to Blame?

Comment from a reader on  a note from the management of the burned establishment

   It looks to me that the management is trying to shift some of the blame onto the local fire department. 

Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on whose side you are on) there is probably some truth to this matter as there has been several fires recently in the area.  One in Santa Monica Subdivision and one out at Sibals Furniture in Brgy.Manganvaca. 

Both of these places were total losses and the Bugle has heard that when the local fire trucks arrived there was no water in them.  Everyone had to wait around watching the places burn until the fire trucks from SBMA showed up to actually start putting water on the fire. 

With the fire at Dryden's/ Rum Jungle the other day this makes at least three fires now where the initial responders were not able to start putting out the fire.  This makes you wonder where all of your tax dollars are being spent.  I mean we live right next to an ocean how hard should it be to have water ready to pump out of the trucks.  To the Bugle not having emergency responders ready to respond borders on an act of criminality in itself.

Monday, January 14, 2013

US and the Philippines rack up some of highest gun murder rates in the world with gun-controlled UK some of the least

Comment from a reader on the post: In the UK, We Stopped the Gun Massacres and it Didn't Lead to a Marcos-style Dictatorship: Hmmm.... maybe you should look at the statistics at this website for some perspective:

From the Bugle: Pretty startling stats on there. 9,369 murders with firearms per year in the United States compared with 14 per year in the UK. The website puts the number of murders with firearms in the Philippines at 7,708 per year ( 

The Girls Who Died in the Fire Didn't Register so They Remained Nameless

Interesting analysis from a former guest of Dryden's Hotel Subic regarding the layout and design of the building and his thoughts as to why the girls who died have remained nameless:

dryden hotel final

In the wake of the fatal fire at Dryden Hotel in Barrio Barretto, Olongapo, I’ve decided to post a review on my last 2 night stay in the Dryden Hotel from a year ago.  My review will shed some insight on the layout.
Last year a few friends and I stayed at Dryden Hotel because, well, of me being cheap and I made online reservations.  Of course they pictures looked really good.  For a 1000 pesos a night? You can’t go wrong!  So what the hell, I paid a hundred extra for the room with a balcony and ocean view.  I’ll get to the rooms later.
Upon arriving at the Hotel, you actually enter thru the Rum Jungle Bar front doors.  So the security guards will always stop you and say, “sir we’re close”!
After explaining that you have hotel reservations you’ll be directed to the bar and they will check you in.  They will ask for your passport or ID to check in.  However, they do not ask for your nightly guest IDs.  That’s where they had a hard time finding out the identifications of the Filipinas that were found after the blaze.
Just to get upstairs you need to the left side of the bar and past the Mens CR and thru another set of doorways and finally to the back room where the stairwell is located.  It’s in this back room where they had a lot of shit stored away.  Chairs were stacked up against the wall and on top of one another.  It looked pretty dingy back there.

dryden hotel 3
Picture taken from GMA, showing the padlocked door leading to the girls dormitory what use to be the old Upper lips Bar.
At the top of the stairwell you will see wall to wall carpeting on the second floor hallway, and it was nasty.  On the far left there was a gate that was padlocked. That led to the old upper lips bar which is closed and now serves as a dormitory for the Dryden Group Girls.  Directly to my right was a big black stain on the carpet.  God knows what that was from.  Someone dropped a big black load I suppose.  There were a 3 or 4 rooms on the left and right side of the hallway, and a  dining table set with a window so you can view the traffic below.
Now my room was the best they had, which was is sad because it was bad.  I had the balcony room which is down the hall and last room on the right.  It has a balcony where I could easily jump off from if need be.

dryden hotel
That’s my old room with the balcony.
After looking at my room I had to compare the room my other friends got.  I liked their rooms more than mine.

dryden hotel 2
Arrows from left to right.   1. my room balcony   
2. end of hallway window   3.  fire escape / balcony
After that I checked out the extra balcony that wasn’t locked and served (I guess) as the fire escape.  I opened it up and took a look below.  Not sure if I saw a ladder.  If there was a foldable ladder there is was certainly not fully extended to the ground below.  Some guy would climb up in the middle of the night and rob us blind.
At first when reading the news reports I could not understand how a concrete building can burn.  Well, the supports for the roof is all wood which is flammable.  So that answers that.
Of course this is going to be based on hindsight.  But I just wish there was a higher standard of building codes when it comes to fire safety, and safety in general.  It really doesn’t help when the local Fire Department is ill-equipped.
It is sad what happened.  But I hope everyone can move on and take measures so that this doesn’t happen again.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

How Many Bars in Barretto Have Fire Exits?

Comment from a reader on the post We Know We Are dead if there is a Fire in the Bars: I understand what this writer is saying about bars, in general, being "fire traps" but that is a sweeping statement and not true of many bars in the Barretto area.  I think it would be interesting to do a layman's survey and see just how many have a proper fire exit. In light of the terrible Dryden tragedy, I would advise customers to note fire exits in establishments they frequent.  

From the Bugle: Interesting but what is a “proper fire exit”. It is definitely not what we generally understand as a fire exit: a dedicated unobstructed easily-accessible door, well marked with an emergency light. By that standard, there is no bar anywhere in Barretto that has a “proper fire exit”. If any reader knows of such a thing in Barretto, please send in a photo. We need to lower the standard for the definition of a fire exit to: “any somewhat accessible second exit”. But in general, we agree with you: when you walk into a bar, or any other establishment for that matter, note your fire exits and escape plan. 

Retirees unhappy with new Tricare system in Philippines

Interesting update on Tricare in the Philippines from Stars and Stripes:

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Tricare’s experiment with an overseas closed network opened to a rocky start this month for retirees in the Philippines.

Many beneficiaries said they were frustrated after being forced into the new health insurance system — a potential model for Tricare services elsewhere overseas — despite many unanswered questions about getting covered care from approved providers.

Tricare decided to test a closed-network model on about 11,000 retired military beneficiaries in the Philippines first because the system there has been one of the agency’s most troubled and has struggled for years with complaints of poor service, ballooning costs and fraud.

Retirees seeking medical care this month reported confusion over what services would be covered at hospitals in the network and uncertainty among providers over filing Tricare claims, said Ken Fournier, a retired sailor and informal representative of beneficiaries in the Philippines.

In one case, it took about two days to sort out whether an approved provider would accept Tricare coverage for a critically ill military retiree with throat cancer, according to Fournier and other retirees who assisted the stricken beneficiary. The Tricare contractor in the Philippines intervened and the retiree eventually received covered care.

“I would really like to see it shut down until they do more training,” Fournier said. “If these guys [retirees] could put management in front of them and literally attack them, they would. They are that angry, and rightfully so.”

Fournier and others said Tricare could have reduced confusion and frustration by stationing representatives at network hospitals to directly assist beneficiaries and shepherd in the new system.

Since Jan. 1, all retirees living in Manila, Angeles City and Subic Bay are required to use doctors and hospitals approved by the Tricare network or pay their own medical bills. Other areas of the country are scheduled to be added into the network in 2014. After three years, Tricare will assess whether the system will be adopted permanently — and perhaps become a model for other retirees living overseas.

For months, beneficiaries in the Philippines warned that they were not given enough information on the new health insurance network and urged Tricare to form a beneficiary advisory panel to head off problems before the rollout.

“It didn’t get solved, and now we are flying by the seat of the pants,” Fournier said.

Tricare spokesman Austin Camacho told Stars and Stripes there were some challenges at the start of the network but said the agency has addressed the initial confusion.

“As with any new program, there is a lot of information to understand, and Global 24 Network Services [the local Tricare contractor] has instructed approved providers to contact them if they have any questions regarding covered services, claims or any other questions related to health care delivery,” Camacho wrote in an email.

Tricare “thoroughly” trained providers by giving on-site support to the largest institutions in the network and educating providers on military insurance since last summer to prepare for the rollout, according to Camacho.

This week, agency management and contractors also held a series of public meetings with retirees in Manila, Angeles City and Subic Bay in an effort to ease frustrations and answer questions. Similar sessions were held in the Philippines in November.

Marrying a Subic Barbecue Girl

A wonderful story of someone who met his wife in Subic, reposted from the Harry the Horse site:

Hello Mr. Harry the Horse, Thought i would write this as it may be of interest to some and informative to others. This is aimed at those who may be thinking about going to the Philippines to find a “Wife”……Some food for thought.  I’m a full blooded American ( white guy..but that’s immaterial..) ..I went into the navy when i was 17 (3 days after i turned 17 ) years old and served from 1960 to 1964…6 days less than four years. Spent most all that time out in the Pacific aboard 3 ships and 18 months (june 1961 to december 1962 ) stationed at Cubi Point Navel Air Station. While there i met and married my wife (she being a Filipina )…..I was 18 years old and she was 19 years old. We have been married ( 50 years ) and had 3 children and have two grand-daughters.  For some of the old timers who were there back in those days they will recall when going out the main gate at subic bay one would cross the bridge over (sorry….Shit river.. thats what everyone called it ) and on into town.  As you got to the end of the bridge there was a big open area and a bunch of little shacks where the “Barbecue Girls” sold their hot dogs, pork on a stick, popcorn, and even beer to the guys working their way back to base before the midnight curfew. This is where i met my wife as she had her own little barbeque stand where she and two sisters and a friend or two sold their goods.  Most all these girls knew each other….And i can tell you that most of them met and married American service men and are scattered all around the USA……..My wife had stayed in contact with a lot of them from that time period and it is amazzzzing to me how many of these girls ended up here in the USA ( a lot of them have passed away).  The big majority of these girls were virgins, not prostitutes. This may bring back a few memories for some of the older guys who spent some time in the city of Olongapo back in the good old days…….. Now for those who may wish to find themselves a “Filipina ” wife, something for you to think about but first I wish to state a couple of facts pertaining to “ME”……(1) I do like filipino people in general and was always treated very well by them. (2) I like the Philippines very much, but it is sad to me to see how dirty this country is and how people just throw garbage and litter every where (sorry but it’s true )…(3) But this is the “big one”..The best thing i ever did in my life was when i Married this lovely young lady as she has taken very good care of me over these 50 plus years and to this day even though she is now 70 years old she is still a very good looking women and still “Turns me on”……I have been a lucky guy.. Now guys… we all know, times have changed in this world and in the Philippines.  In those days when i was there the average filipino knew very little about the good old USA and what they did seem to know was what they had seen in the movies.  Yes,  even then as some do now, thought all Americans where rich and that money just grew on trees and all you had to do was pick it off and if you were really rich you didn’t even bother to do that, you hired someone to pick it for you (LOL ).   We now live in a whole new world and it is full of scams and gold diggers..”Beware”…LOL For those of you who live in a dream world and not reality. i can point out a few things for you to think about and some of them you can chisel down in stone….. You can take the girl out of the Philippines….but you will never take the Philippines out of the girl…..(nothing wrong with that i guess…just the way it is.)  Next is food and what they like to eat..Now if you happen to like their style food and a lot of people do that’s great.  My kids like a lot of it and myself very little of it…and some of it i wouldn’t touch with a stick………We have always had two types of food in our house….Her type of food and my kind of food…( and she is a very good cook and baker ) but there are times when the smell of what she cooks that her and her friends like to eat is almost too much for me to handle. ( i can tell you right now guys you will most likely never change this so just figure on dealing with it.) The next thing is language (did i spell that right…damm i wish i could spell ) Their number one language is and always will be “Tagalog” and English will be the number two…..There are very few exceptions to this and i know a hell of a lot of filipinas here in the USA…They can spend hours talking tagalog to a friend and what they can talk about for hours is beyond me.  Most of it revolves around their family and friends in the Philippines…They can never seem to get away from this..I don’t speak the language…i know a lot of phrases…hundreds of words but just can’t put them together to really talk to any one.  I can after all these years listen and in general get the drift of what the conversation is about (get used to this as it is just the way its going to be ) Now the “BIG ONE”…..”Philippine Family Members “……………I could write a book on this subject. There is no easy answer to this and it has most likely caused more problems among those married to a filipina than anything else. In their eyes the family in the Philippines is “NUMBER ONE”…….Got that “NUMBER ONE”……….And let me tell you these familys in the Philippines can fill a small “PHONE BOOK” with all the shirt tail members…They are raised from birth that it is their responsibility to help take care of the family in the Philippines (yes, to some degree we all feel this way that we would all like to help our family no mater where they are to a point) Now what is hard to deal with is the filipino’s seem to think their needs are far more important than your own may be and that you are obligated in some way to take care of their’s first.??? If you help one member in some way….now they all line up and say well you helped so and so …why can’t you help me….(here again they know we all have that money tree in our back yard and we just need to pick some and send it to them ).  One thing that has always amazzzzed me is ( i have had help from a few of my family back in the past and i can tell you i have never forgot it and will at times remind them of this fact and how it was appreciated ) but i must say i have never seen this from any of the members of my wife’s family…and she has helped a good number of them at times (and still does today as i write this) It was always a battle to get my wife to understand that our family (meaning her and I and our children is “NUMBER ONE” ) not the family in the P.I. or even my family here in the states. Well this is long enough and will give maybe some a general idea about getting a wife from a foreign country and in turn taking her to a foreign country to live. There are simple things that we here in a more modern world take for granted every day that is not even in the realm of their world which they grew up in and it will at times dazzel you…..?  So give it some careful thought guys and you better be ready to be able to give and take if you expect things to work out as you will both have a lot to learn…. For what it’s worth and good luck to all. Harry to keep me out of the dog house for who knows how long….Mabe you will leave my name off my post or just use my first name….LOL Good job with your website as i read it all the time and always wait for your next addition. (sorry again about my spelling), Larry.

Response from Harry: (Larry, man that was a bit long and yes, your spelling was terrible.  I did correct many of the spelling and grammar errors but left some in.  Do me a favor, remember that “always” has one L, not two.  But, taking that aside, all that you wrote is true and that river is still called “shit river” and probably some of the shit you saw many years ago is still there.  I am glad to hear that after 50 years of marriage your wife still turns you on and it appears you have a very happy life.  But, I kind of sense that in those 50 years you have failed to convince your wife that you are number one and her family in the Philippines is definitely number two.  The fact that you remain married for so long is testament to your patience, love and ability to compromise when necessary.  All in all, not a bad life.  You were lucky, you got yourself a good Filipina wife, many coming here do not.  I hope both of you enjoy another 50 years of being “turned on” with each other)

We Know We Are dead if there is a Fire in the Bars

Comment from a reader:
Anyone who has wandered around Subic, Angeles or any of the bar districts in the Philippines (and Thailand!) know that they are fire traps. There is usually only one clear exit – the front door you came in through. The “fire exit” – if there is one – is usually a back door through a narrow obstructed hallway often leading through the kitchen. The establishments, at least the good ones, are always filled to capacity and much of the clientele is drunk. If there is a fast-moving fire, those agile dancers on stage will be out the door long before the fat old drunk customers! And if the bar owners ever actually make the investment in making their establishments safe, we could no longer afford to drink there. So… drink up and hope for the best!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Read the Crime Reports in Newspapers Before you Talk about Gun Control in the Philippines

Comment from a reader on Millions of Loose Unregulated Guns is What Keeps the Philippines Safe: Thanks for publishing the counterpoint to the silly gun control in Subic blog. The writer of that surely had not lived here long, did not know any Filipinos well, and did not read the crime reports in the newspapers.

Why Didn't Someone Warn the Guests?

Comment from a reader on the Subic Fire:
Shoddy workmanship is the norm in the Philippines, so no surprise there. What's inexplicable is why no one alerted those tenants/visitors when everyone else around was still awake. Those bars close at 04AM and there are a number of people, such as guards, girls, trike drivers, and others sticking out that area at all hours.

The Building Code in the Philippines is Not Enforced

Comment from a reader on the Subic Fire:
No Building Code in the Philippines this is the norm, and as a result hundreds of People are killed each year. The Philippine Government doesn't care about building codes of safety, all the Government cares about is sending their People overseas to work their butts off all in the name of making Billions of Pesos in remittance fees, this is all their care about.

What Philippine Government needs to do is change their labor laws, its sad to Millions of young Pinoys out of work because of discrimination of hiring practices, I have heard of many well qualified job seekers denied employment because their too short, too old, and why I mean too old (if your older then 25 years you will not get hired by companies like Mercury drug Stores, SM Malls, that's just to mention a few. Its shameful to see Millions of young educated Pinoys unable to get work in the own country, so the situation is clear don't bother looking for work in your country, go overseas as OFW, its time the people of the Philippines be treated with dignity and respect by their elected officials' and the companies that based in their country and why not?

Is the Fire Death Toll 7 or 8?

Comment from a reader on the post: Dryden Hotel Fire: Surprised that no one is talking about the Englishman...why is the media still saying 7 fatalities and not 8?

From the Bugle: The media are still saying 7 fatalities because that is the number of bodies recovered in the building and reported by fire investigators. Fire investigators have no incentive to downplay the death toll. As we understand it, there was an Englishman checked into the hotel on the night of the fire and now that person cannot be located. That doesn’t mean he is a confirmed fatality. Confirming fatalities is serious business. It can’t be based upon rumors and hearsay.

Fire Code of the Philippines

The below is an excerpt from the Fire code of the Philippines.  The Bugle wonders if proper following of the code would have prevented the most recent fire from happening and if the proper inspection of lodging establishments would help prevent any future incidents.

d. Provision on Fire Safety Construction, Protective and Warning System. Owners, occupants or
administrator or buildings, structures and their premises or facilities, except such other buildings or
structures as may be exempted in the rules and regulations to be promulgated under Section 6 hereof,
shall incorporate and provide therein fire safety construction, protective and warning system, and shall develop and implement fire safety programs, to wit:

(1) Fire protection features such as sprinkler systems, hose boxes, hose reels or standpipe systems and
other fire fighting equipment;

(2) Fire Alarm systems;

(3) Fire walls to separate adjoining buildings, or warehouses and storage areas from other occupancies in the same building;

(4) Provisions for confining the fire at its source such as fire resistive floors and walls extending up to the next floor slab or roof, curtain boards and other fire containing or stopping components;

(5) Termination of all exits in an area affording safe passage to a public way or safe dispersal area;

(6) Stairway, vertical shafts, horizontal exits and other meals of egress sealed from smoke and heat;

(7) A fire exit plan for each floor of the building showing the routes from each other room to appropriate exits, displayed prominently on the door of such room;

(8) Self-closing fire resistive doors leading to corridors;

(9) Fire dampers in centralized air-conditioning ducts;

(10) Roof vents for use by fire fighters; and

(11) Properly marked and lighted exits with provision for emergency lights to adequately illuminate exit ways

A Note from the Management of the Burned Establishment

 A note from the management of the establishment:

 It's been a long and very sad day.

My apologizes for starting a new thread, but I wanted to have the story, as we know it, on top and away from the media misinformation in the other thread. What a terrible tragedy!

The fire started around 3 AM in the area behind the toilets at Rum Jungle. This area is our office space and houses accounting, administration, marketing and facilities. We also use it for storing T-shirts, some stock and lots of documents.

There were 6 or 7 deaths. We had two separate counting groups, so I still am not sure. All but one person died in their room - most likely from smoke inhalation. There were 2 or 3 Filipinas and the remaining foreigners. We believe there were 3 Americans, 1 Korean and on Englishman. We were told there was one girl in the room and one in the stairwell. About an hour ago, we were looking around the hotel and spotted another body of a girl huddled in the space under the desk. I am not sure if the fire inspectors missed her or forgot about her - thus the confusion. It's a sight that will haunt me for a long time; probably the rest of my life.

We had working smoke detectors and emergency lights and a number easily reached fire extinguishers (but these would have been of little use). The building was fire safety inspected in March, and passed all requirements.

Unfortunately, the 2 fire trucks in Barrio Barretto are inoperable, and we had to call the brigade from Olongapo. It took them about 30 minutes to get from City Hall to the hotel. There are horror stories about firefighters refusing to take action until receiving payment for services. When the brigade arrived they went into immediate action. There were 3 trucks and 2 water trucks plus 2 ambulances. The equipment they use is rudimentary; mechanical ladders, poor fitting rubber suits, undersized safety helmets, etc. Yet these brave men did not hesitate to climb the ladders to the balconies, enter Rum Jungle and the Complex and do their best to extinguish the fire.

The investigation that followed was thorough and professional. They sifted through the ruins, gather evidence interviewed many of the staff and all was done with courtesy and all due politeness. Once the offices had cooled down, we were allowed to remover our safes. One had over P1,000,000 in one, which NO ONE asked about nor hinted about a payoff.

There are no words that can express my sorrow and sincere sorrow about what happened nor my most heartfelt condolences to the victims' families. I also want to sincerely thank the Barretto and Angeles communities for their unqualified outpouring of sympathy and support. To Simba (Hot Zone), Pok Pok Boy, Prima, Tommo (always the first to offer help), Navy Jim, Bruno and JJ, Jimbo (VFW), the representatives of the RAO, Tom Wicke - I will never forget your kind words. To Bret, Dave K, Phillip, FRGC (Bill), Don, Daisy, Jeff, all 11 of our mamasans and the scores of staff who were there; you've proven yourselves the best staff, managers and friends I could ever deserve; my gratitude for being there through this very long night.

I'm not a religious person, but tonight, I'll be saying a few prayers for those who left us too soon. Please join me.

News Coverage of the Fire

Most stories about the fire repeat the same information but this one from the government-run Philippine News Agency has some additional info:

Six die in Olongapo fire

OLONGAPO CITY, Jan. 11 (PNA) -- Six persons, including four foreigners, died when a fire razed a small hotel here at dawn on Friday.

Senior Fire Officer 3 Jose Borlagdatan said fire broke out around 3:30 a.m. at the Dryden Hotel and Restaurant located at 138 Barangay Barreto here.

Borlagdatan said the victims were three Americans, two Filipino women and a South Korean.

The American victims were identified as Patrick Burk, James Brigati and Joe Valoso while the Korean national was identified as Hyung Ook Kim.

The two Filipino women have yet to be identified, Borlagdatan said.

Initial investigation showed that the blaze started at the third floor of the hotel which is owned and maintained by a 70-year-old American, David Fisher.

He said they have yet to determine the cause of the fire. (PNA)

Friday, January 11, 2013

How Many Foreigners are Killed by Guns in the Philippines?

Comment from a reader on Millions of Loose Unregulated Guns is What Keeps the Philippines Safe: I think it would be interesting to see a world league table of countries showing the total of foreigners that are killed each year. I wonder where the Philippines would be in that table? I wonder how many of the top ten would have a "gun culture"? Just curious.

Dryden Hotel Fire

The below listed links should provide enough coverage to satisfy all of our loyal readers.  If  we get any more information we will be sure to provide it to you.

Hotel Fire in Philippines Kills 7, Officials Say

7 die in Olongapo hotel fire

U.S. citizens believed to be among the dead in Philippine hotel fire

Once again our condolences go out to those who lost thier lives in this tragic incident.

Dryden Fire

Just a quick update to the fire that we posted about earlier.  Seems like the fire took the lives of three Americans, one Korean, and at least two Filipinas.  The fire started about 0300 and was put out by 0600.  The cause of the fire is still unknown.  The Bugle sends condolences to all affected by this tragic incident.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Fire in Barretto

Early this morning the Bugle started hearing about a fire at the old Dryden restaurant area.  Initial reports are that there have been casualties and that Lollipops has been damaged also.  The Bugle will be heading out there shortly to see what more info we can dig up from amongst the embers.

Why Publicize a Subic Murder?

Comment on the post: Subic Murder: With the possibility of the US forces coming into town again, why would you want this published on the front page of whatever local or national paper you seem to think has overlooked it? Are you for real? 

From the Bugle: Whether US forces come into our town or not is irrelevant to the fact that a young lass was murdered.  Why are you even trying to link the two issues together?  Our local populace needs to know whenever something bad happens in our locale and what happens to these evil doers.  Covering up the crimes and the perpetrators creates an illusion that all is perfect in our little corner of the world when beneath the surface there is an altogether different scene.  Do the people have a right to know when crimes are committed or should we just whitewash it in the hopes that if we ignore it long enough it will just go away by itself?  It is only by exposing these crimes to the light of the public that we can then fix the underlying issues of what is driving people to commit these crimes. 

I Earned Every Penny of My “Monthly Government Handout”

Comment from a reader on the post: You Are Not a Winner Just Because You Retired to the Philippines on Your Monthly Government Handout: Your comments alone show how ignorant you are, and as far as my "Monthly Govt. Handout" goes, I earned every penny of it, and should be paid even more for the things I did for my country, and for my family having to endure what they went thru. If you think that the typical old guy with a 18 y/o child around his arm is the norm, then it's even more obvious how stupid you are. Since coming here I have created an extremely successful business, purchased my own island, and haven't been happier. So if all you are familiar with are the drunks, garbage, disease, smokers, and alcoholics as you stated, then yes, you are a loser. Great job pointing out your status to everyone. So, in closing, if you're not from here either, then I would suggest that YOU go back to where you came from, or if you are from here, may I suggest you jump from the nearest bridge...either way, it will be no loss to those of us who choose to stay here, collecting our "Monthly Govt. Handout". Loser.