Category Archives: Subic Bay History

Sangley Closes, Marine Officer Killed

U.S. Naval Station Sangley Point
Republic of the Philippines (1948-1971)

A School Opens At Sangley

  The story of the dependent school at Sangley Point begins after the return of the U.S. Navy to the Philippines, and to Sangley, in 1945. In anticipation of the possible allied invasion of the Japanese mainland, an 8000 foot runway was constructed, along with the associated air operations and maintenance facilities. The invasion never took place, but Sangley’s importance as a support facility for the Seventh Fleet continued to grow. So did its complement of Navy, Marine, Coast Guard, and civilian personnel.
  As the number military personnel at Sangley grew, so did the need to provide accommodations and facilities for the dependents that would ultimately accompany them. Not the least of these facilities, of course, would be a school. So, a group of Quonset huts was designated, and in August of 1948 the first dependent’s school was opened at Sangley Point!  At first, the school was comprised of grades 1-7 and only 65 students. But, as the number of dependents increased the school began to grow, eventually adding a kindergarten and the 8th, 9th, and 10th grades. Ultimately, in 1963, the Bureau of the Navy added 11th and 12th grades.

[Grade 4]

   The school was comprised of a series of Quonset huts linked together with a central corridor. The original buildings were constructed on concrete piers with wooden floors, but the newer ones on the eastern end were built on concrete slabs. All the buildings, however, were metal Quonset huts. The entire school grounds was enclosed by a fence made primarily of Marston matting, an interlocking, metal construction material used to construct emergency or temporary landing strips!

It Gets A Name

  And, yet, as the school grew it remained nameless for more than ten years! Then, in 1959 a contest was held among the students to name their own school! The prize of a U.S. Savings Bond went to Jackie Newell(’56-’59) for choosing a name which commemorated the American naval hero of the Revolutionary War, John Paul Jones.[1967 Graduation]  In 1967, JPJ came under the supervision of the Air Force and was incorporated into the District II, Pacific Area, DODDS. In March of the next year, it was accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. By now, there were 650 students at JPJ from kindergarten to the 12th grade; ten times the number that was first enrolled in 1948! By 1970, that number would swell to 690. Plans were in the works for the construction of a new school when official word came on December 10,1970, that Naval Station Sangley Point was to terminate operations as a U.S. facility.

 Sangley Closes

  Hectic and chaotic days followed that fateful announcement. Things would never be the same at Sangley. Everyone began to pack up and ship everything to the States or to other military facilities. Robberies and burglaries became commonplace as criminal elements attempted to get what they could before it was all gone. A Marine officer on his way home from Vietnam was killed when a robbery attempt at the American Express office ended in gunfire. Students and teachers at JPJ, only a block away, had to remain in the classrooms until the incident was over.

  Finally, on June 30, 1971, after almost 23 years of service, John Paul Jones School was officially closed. The very next day Naval Station Sangley Point changed status from active to inactive. What followed was sixty days of frantic activity as everything that could be stripped out, disconnected, or dismantled was shipped out. Amidst all of this chaos, some shipments were lost or stolen. Lost or destroyed, also, were the JPJ school records. As a result, many graduating seniors had difficulty entering colleges and universities.

  Then, on September 1,1971, Sangley Point was officially turned over to the Philippine government.

Republic of the Philippines


G.R. No. L-53926-29 November 13, 1989

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, plaintiff-appellee,

The Office of the solicitor General for plaintiff-appellee.

Carlos Ambrosio and Mario P. Gomez for defendant-appelant.



For having allegedly robbed the American Express Bank Branch located inside the United States Naval Base in Sangley Point, Cavite City and killed a U.S. marine officer on the occasion thereof, Manuel Mateo, Jr., Esmeraldo Cruz, Roberto Martinez @ Ruben Martinez, and Enrique Concepcion, members of the Cavite City police department, and Emmanuel Caganap, Gener Filoteo, Manuel Mendoza, Rolando Reyes, Danny Tosco, Renato Mendoza, Melanio Mendoza, and seven (7) persons whose Identities have remained unknown, were charged before the Circuit Criminal Court of Pasig, Rizal, with the crime of Robbery in Band with Homicide, and three (3) separate crimes of Robbery in Band, docketed therein as CCC-VII-843-Cavite City to CCC-VII-846-Cavite City, inclusive, committed as follows:

1. CCC-VII-843-Cavite City:

That on or about the 4th day of June, 1971, in Cavite City, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring and confederating and helping one another, and with intent of gain and against the will of the owner thereof, armed with firearms, by means of force, violence, and intimidation did, then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously rob, take and carry away from the American Express Bank Branch, a private firm duly represented by Antonio Laforteza, resident special agent, of the amount of $41,120.79 and P96,532.38, to the damage and prejudice of the latter in the aforesaid amount of $41,120.79 and P96,532.38; that as a consequence of an encounter during said Robbery in Band, the person of First Lt. James Plumpowski, USMC, who at that time responded to the alarm flashed by the bank personnel, sustained serious wounds on the vital parts of his body which caused his death.

The aggravating circumstances attendant thereto are the following:

1. Use of Motor Vehicle;

2. Taking advantage of superior strength;

3. Committed in band, all being armed;

4. Committed with the aid of persons who insure or afford impunity;

5. Committed with evident premeditation; and

6. That craft, fraud, or disguise was employed. 1

1. CCC-VII-844-Cavite City:

That on or about the 4th day of June 1971, in Cavite City, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring and confederating and helping one another, with intent of gain and against the will of the owner thereof, armed with firearms, by means of force, violence and intimidation, did then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously rob, take and carry I away from Antonio Araquel, the following articles, to wit:

Man’s wrist watch “Wiseman” valued at P50.00

Shoes valued at 21.00

Cash money in the amount of 15.00

Gate pass (unestimated amount) P86.00

to the damage and prejudice of the latter in the aforementioned amount of P86.00.

The aggravating circumstances attendant thereto are the following:

1. Use of motor vehicle;

2. Taking advantage of superior strength;

3. Committed in band, all being armed;

4. Committed with the aid of persons who insure or afford impunity;

5. That craft, fraud or disguise was employed. 2

3. CCC-VII-845-Cavite City:

That on or about the 4th day of June 1971, in Noveleta, Province of Cavite, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of its Honorable Court, the above-named accused conspiring and confederating and helping one another, with intent of gain and against the will of the owner thereof, armed with firearms, by means of force, violence and intimidation did, then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously rob, take and carry away from the Aguinaldo Development Corporation ( Goody-Goody Bakery), a delivery truck with Plate No. 42-24xx, Manila 1971, valued at $1,500.00 which Aguinaldo Development Corporation is duly represented by Atty. Carlos, to the damage and prejudice of the latter corporation in the aforeamount of $1,500.00.

The aggravating circumstances attendant thereto are the following:

1. Use of Motor Vehicle;

2. Taking advantage of superior strength;

3. Committed in band, all being armed;

4. Committed with the aid of persons who insure or afford impunity;

5. Committed with evident premeditation; and

6. That craft, fraud or disguise was employed. 3

4. CCC-VII-846-Cavite City:

That on or about the 4th day of June, 1971, in Cavite City, Philippines and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-named accused conspiring and confederating and helping one another, with intent of gam and against the will of the owner thereof, armed with firearms, by means of force, violence and intimidation did, then and there wilfully, unlawfully and feloniously rob, take and carry away from Rodrigo Estrebillo his Driver’s License valued at P6.00, to the damage and prejudice of the afore-said driver in the amount of P6.00.

The aggravating circumstances attendant thereto are the following :

1. Use of Motor Vehicle;

2. Taking advantage of superior strength;

3. Committed in Band, all being armed

4. Committed with the aid of persons who insure or afford impunity; and

5. That craft, fraud or disguise was employed. 4

When arraigned, the accused entered pleas of NOT GUILTY, except for Emmanuel Caganap who pleaded GUILTY to the charges and was accordingly sentenced, in Crim. Case No. CCC-VIII-843- Cavite City, to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua; to indemnify the heirs of the deceased Lt. James Plumpowski in the amount of P12,000.00; to pay the American Express Bank Branch, thru Antonio Laforteza, the amounts of $41,120.79 and P96,532.38; to pay the amount of P10,000.00 as moral damages and another P10,000.00 as exemplary damages, and to pay the costs; and in CCC-VII-844-Cavite City, CCC-VII-845-Cavite City and CCC-VII-846-Cavite City, to suffer the penalty of from two (2) years, four (4) months and one (1) day of prision correccional, as minimum, to four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional, as maximum, in each of the aforestated cases; and to indemnify the complainants Antonio Araquel in the amount of P86.00; the Aguinaldo Development Corporation, in the amount of $1,500.00; and Rodrigo Estrebillo, in the amount of P6.00; and to pay the costs. 5

The accused Rolando Reyes subsequently withdrew his plea of NOT GUILTY and pleaded GUILTY to the charges. He was consequently sentenced, in Crim. Case No. CCC-VII-843-Cavite City, to suffer the penalty of reclusion perpetua; to indemnify the heirs of the deceased Lt. James Plumpowski in the amount of P12,000.00; to pay the American Express Bank Branch, thru Antonio Laforteza, the amounts of $41,120.79 and P96,532.38; to pay the amount of P10,000.00 as moral damages and another P10,000.00 as exemplary damages; and to pay the costs; and in Crim. Cases Nos. CCC-VII-844- Cavite City, CCC-VII-845-Cavite City and CCC-VII-846-Cavite City, to suffer the penalty of from two (2) years, four (4) months and one (1) day of prision correccional, as minimum, to four (4) years and two (2) months of prision correccional, as maximum, in each of the aforesaid cases; and to indemnify the complainants Antonio Araquel in the amount of P86.00, the Aguinaldo Development Corporation, in the amount of $1,500.00, and Rodrigo Estrebillo in the amount for P6.00; and to pay the costs. 6

On 5 November 1973, upon motion of the City Fiscal, the charges against the accused Manuel Mendoza were dismissed. 7

After a joint trial of the cases and an assessment of the evidence presented by the parties, judgment was rendered by the court a quo on 5 November 1979, as follows:

WHEREFORE, in Criminal Case No. CCC-VII-843-Cavite City, the Court finds the accused Manuel Mateo, Jr.; Esmeraldo Cruz, Gener Filoteo, Renato Mendoza, Melanio Mendoza, Roberto Martinez @ Ruben Martinez and Enrique Concepcion GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Robbery in Band with Homicide, as defined in paragraph 1, Article 294 of the Revised Penal Code, as charged in the Amended Information; and the Court hereby sentences all of the said accused to suffer the penalty of RECLUSION PERPETUA, with accessory penalties prescribed by law; ordering them to indemnify jointly and severally the heirs of the offended party, Lt. James Plumpowski in the amount of Twelve Thousand Pesos (P12,000.00); ordering them to pay jointly and severally the American Express Bank Branch, thru Antonio Laforteza, the amount of Forty-one Thousand One Hundred Twenty Dollars and Seventy-nine Cents ($41,120.79), or its equivalent in Philippine Currency, and the amount of Ninety-six Thousand Five Hundred Thirty-two Pesos and Thirty-eight Centavos (P96,532.38); and to pay their proportionate share of the costs.

In Criminal Case No. CCC-VII-844-Cavite City, the Court finds the accused Manuel Mateo, Jr., Esmeraldo Cruz, Gener Filoteo Renato Mendoza, Melanio Mendoza, Roberto Martinez @ Ruben Martinez, and Enrique Concepcion GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Robbery in Band, as defined in paragraph 5, Article 294 of the Revised Penal Code, as charged in the Amendment Information; and the Court hereby sentences all of the said accused to suffer imprisonment of FOUR (4) YEARS, TWO (2) MONTHS and ONE (1) DAY, as minimum, to SIX (6) YEARS, as maximum, with accessory penalties prescribed by law; ordering them to indemnify jointly and severally the offended party, Antonio Araquel, in the amount of Eighty-six Pesos (P86.00); and to pay their proportionate share of the costs.

In Criminal Case No. CCC-VII-845-Cavite City, the Court finds the accused Manuel Mateo, Jr., Esmeraldo Cruz, Gener Filoteo, Renato Mendoza, Melanio Mendoza, Roberto Martinez @ Ruben Martinez, and Enrique Concepcion GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Robbery in Band, as defined in paragraph 5, Article 294 of the Revised Penal Code, as charged in the Amended Information; and the Court hereby sentences all of the said accused to suffer imprisonment of FOUR (4) YEARS, TWO (2) MONTHS, and ONE (1) DAY, as minimum, to SIX (6) YEARS, as maximum, with accessory penalties prescribed by law; and to pay their proportionate share of the costs.

In Criminal Case No. CCC-VII-846-Cavite City, the Court finds the accused Manuel Mateo, Jr., Esmeraldo Cruz, Gener Filoteo, Renato Mendoza, Melanio Mendoza, Roberto Martinez @ Ruben Martinez, and Enrique Concepcion GUILTY beyond reasonable doubt of the crime of Robbery in Band, defined in paragraph 5, Article 294 of the Revized Penal Code. as charged in the Amended Information, and the Court hereby sentences all “he said accused to suffer imprisonment of FOUR YEARS, TWO 2) MONTHS and ONE DAY, asminimum, to SIX (6) YEARS, as maximum, with accessory penalties prescribed by law; ordering them to indemnify jointly and severally the offended party, Rodrigo Estrebillo, in the amount of Six Pesos (P6.00); and to pay their proportionate share of the costs.

In the service of the sentence, all of the said accused are entitled to Article 29 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 6127.

As regards the accused Danilo Tosco @ Danny Tosco this Court finds the evidence against him insufficient to warrant his conviction beyond reasonable doubt for all the crimes charged in Criminal Cases Nos. CCC-VII-843, 844, 845 and 846-Cavite, and hereby ACQUITS said accused. 8

From this judgment, the accused Manuel Mateo, Jr., Esmeraldo Cruz, and Enrique Concepcion appealed. Manuel Mateo, Jr. and Esmeraldo Cruz, however, subsequently withdrew their appeals. 9

The incriminatory facts of these cases, as contained in the People’s Brief, are as follows:

At about 4:45 o’clock in the morning of June 4, 1971, Rodrigo Estrebillo was driving the Goody-Goody delivery truck of the Aguinaldo, Inc., coming from its bakery at V. Mapa, Manila to deliver bread at the then U.S. Naval Base at Sangley Point, Cavite City. With Estrebillo in the truck was Antonio Araquel a helper. At approximately 7:00 o’clock of the same morning of June 4, 1971, while the Goody-Goody truck was travelling at the Lido Beach Resort and upon reaching a curve near Long Beach, a passenger jeep with armed men on board suddenly cut across the way of the Goody-Goody truck. Estrebillo immediately stopped the truck. Three armed men alighted from the jeep and one of them poked a gun at Estrebillo, shoved him to the side and took over the wheels of the Goody-Goody truck. The second armed man likewise poked a gun at Antonio Araquel and ordered him to alight from the truck and to go inside the passenger jeep. The third man blindfolded Estrebillo with an undershirt and sat in front of the truck sandwiching Estrebillo between him and the other armed man. Estrebillo Identified the armed man who poked a gun at him as Roberto or Ruben Marinez. Araquel Identified the man who pointed a gun at him and ordered him to go to the passenger jeep as Gener Filoteo. The man who took over the driver’s seat from Estrebillo was Identified as Emmanuel Caganap. Thereafter, the passenger jeep proceeded to Bay Court Hotel in Cavite City near the police checkpoint. Following the passenger jeep was the Goody- Goody truck driven by Emmanuel Caganap,

At the Bay Court Hotel, Estrebillo and Araquel were brought inside a room. Estebillos blindfold was removed. Martinez asked Araquel how to use the gate pass to enter Sangley Point and the latter informed Martinez that the receipt for the bread should be stamped by a doctor before actual delivery. Martinez took the gate pass and the receipt for the bread from Araquel as well as Estrebillo’s driver’s license. Araquel was stripped of his watch worth P50.00, shoes worth P20.00 and cash money of P15.00. Estrebillo and Araquel were warned by Martinez that they would be killed and be seen floating in the sea should they tell anyone what happened.

Aside from Martinez and Filoteo, who were Identified by Estrebillo and Araquel other armed men were Identified by Marilyn Tordecillas Orendain, wife of the Assistant Manager of the Bay Court Hotel, Gin Moe alias Lee. Mrs. Orendain was at the hotel at 6:00 o’clock in the morning of June 4, 1971. They saw Roberto Martinez and Enrique Concepcion arrive. She also Esmeraldo Cruz come in when Martinez asked for a drink. Concepcion sat in front of Mrs. Orendain a little away from the counter. At past seven o’clock of the same morning, she saw a passenger jeep arrive with armed men followed by a Goody-Goody truck. The jeep parked near the second house in the house compound, while the Goody-Goody truck went straight to the fourth house and then returned to the second house where the jeep was parked. Also among the group were Manuel Mateo, Jr., or June Mateo, the brothers Melanio and Renato Mendoza, a certain Doming, Didong, Lando and Eddie Mata.

It was at the Bay Court Hotel where Martinez spelled out the details of the plan to rob the American Express Bank inside Sangley Point. At about 10:00 a.m., after Martinez had acquired the necessary information as to how the entrance to the U.S. Naval Base at Sangley Point could be effected, the Goody-Goody truck, driven by Emmanuel Caganap, left the Bay Court Hotel and proceeded to the base. Beside Caganap in front of the truck was Gener Filoteo. Inside the truck were Rolando Reyes. Renato and Melanio Mendoza, Doming and Didong. The rest of the group comprising Martinez, Mateo, Cruz, Concepcion and Eddie Mata rode in a jeep in going to Sangley Point.

xxx xxx xxx

Martinez also suave out last-minute instructions. He told the men in the Goody-Goody truck that his group composed of himself, Mateo, Concepcion Cruz, Eddie Mata and Lando and would be outside the base and would fire to confuse the Americans. Martinez further said that if there be any danger, hostages would have to be taken.

And so, at about ten o’clock in the morning of June 4, 1971, in furtherance of the conspiracy, with Caganap driving, with Filoteo beside him, and with Reyes, Melanio and Renato Mendoza, Doming and Didong inside the Goody-Goody truck, the group proceeded towards the American Express Bank inside Sangley Point. While still away from the bank, Gener Filoteo and Renato Mendoza alighted from the Goody-Goody truck and walked to the bank. On the pretext that they were looking for the Administration Building, they asked a U.S. Marine on guard posted at the bank where the Administration Building is located. However, the marine did not understand the question, is he did not answer. Filoteo and Renato Mendoza then asked a Filipino who was there at the moment, and the Filipino pointed to the Administration Building. Filoteo and Renato Mendoza proceeded to cross the street towards the Administration Building. At the moment, the Goody- Goody truck arrived. Immediately, Filoteo and Mendoza returned to the bank pointed their guns at the marine on guard, Para Guadalupe, handcuffed him at the railings of the stairs in front of the bank and took the marine’s shotgun and radio. Almost simultaneously, the armed men inside the Goody-Goody truck alighted and proceeded inside the bank. Filoteo and Renato Mendoza followed but not until after Filoteo had ordered two of the “cuadra” boys to stand guard outside the bank near the handcuffed marine, Para Guadalupe. The latter recognized from the picture, Exhibit “G-3”, the man wearing a cap, and Identified him as Gener Filoteo, as one of the two armed men who approached him, handcuffed him and took his shotgun and radio. According to him the two armed men standing outside the bank near the place where he was handcuffed. fired shots in the air to scare people.

Ismael Bob Pittman, a U.S. marine assigned at the U.S. Naval Base, Sangley Point, was inside the barracks when he heard the bank alarm. Responding to the alarm, Pittman and several other U.S. marines, among whom were Capt. Taylor, S/Sgt. Mc Daniel, Sgt. Greene, Cpl. Mitchell, Pfc. Thompson, boarded a marine truck and proceeded direction of the bank. There was an exchange of gunfire between the marines and the armed men in the bank. Pittman hid behind a tree, but could not return fire as he left his firearm in the marine vehicle. In the ensuing gunbattle Pittman and Para Guadalupe saw Lt. James Plumpowki fatally shot.

Inside the American Express Bank, the employees were performing their usual duties. Helena Parcero was secretary and assistant vault custodian. Nicanor Obtera was senior teller and senior custodian of the bank. Other employees were Lucila Santos. teller No. 5; Edgardo Moncal, teller No. 2; and Angelina Basto The Bank Manager, Robert Gilman, was in his office. When the four or five armed men entered the bank, one of them shouted, “Everybody, do not move; this is a hold-up,” and asked for the Manager. Nicanor Obtera pointed to the Bank Manager, who came out from his office. Upon orders from the armed men, Gilman told Obtera to open the vault. Obtera and Parcero then opened the vault, with two armed men behind them. After the two safes in the vault were opened, the armed man holding a sack ordered Obtera and Parcero to take the pesos from one safe and the dollars from the other safe and to place them in the sack.

During the shooting that ensued, the man armed with a rifle was hit in the head. The bleeding man sat near the grill door of the vault, took off his shirt and tied it around bis head. This man was Identified as Renato Mendoza. Another gunman was shot and who was later Identified as Emmanuel Caganap. One of the gunmen, known as Doming was killed.

Meanwhile, Daniel Luchyz, a U. S. navyman who was standing in front of the American Express Bank at the time the Goody-Goody truck passed, was ordered by the armed man carrying a rifle to go inside the bank, and there he was told by the man carrying .45 caliber pistol and with a gun slung across his shoulder, to carry the sack of money outside the bank. The other armed men took hostages with them, rushed out of the bark towards a parked marine truck, boarded the vehicle, sped towards the west gate and made their exit at the portion of the gate where the wire fence was cut two days before the incident. A group of armed men waited outside the fence for their companions and they all made their escape with the bank loot.

Almost at the same time that the bank heist was happening, another scene was transpiring at the main gate of the U.S. Naval Base at Sangley Point, John L. Tori, Jr. a U.S. marine stationed at Sangley Point, was at the main gate of the base at about ten o’clock in the morning of June 4, 1971 with his wife Joselita Tori to shop at the base commissary. When he heard the alarm, he went back to the gate to close it. Tori heard four shots outside the gate and saw a woman running towards the gate. Tori also saw a man running towards Post No. 3 holding and firing a .45 caliber pistol. Tori Identified him as Manuel Mateo Jr., Tori also saw another armed man who fired his weapon. A jeep with motor still running was parked outside the fence of the base about a yard from the tower post. Tori Identified Esmeraldo Cruz as the one seated inside the jeep with another man with his back turned. After helping to safety a woman and a child inside the gate, Tori ran towards Post No. 3, where marine Elliot J. Grey was on guard duty, positioned at the tower located at the fence along the Street.

Elliot saw a jeep pass the tower three times and at the fourth time, the jeep pulled off in a corner and two men got out of the jeep, who started filing inside the base, one with .45 caliber pistol and the other with a Thompson sub-machine gun. As the two men “fired, they ran down the street behind the jeep which turned to the corner. Elliot then got out of the tower and ran to the main gate, met Tori and helped to move people recover. About two three minutes after the men fired from outside the base, Elliot heard firing from the direction of the American Express Bank. Elliot proceeded to the bank and had an argument with the wife of the Bank Manager, who wanted to go to the bank to see her husband, but Elliot brought her to safety inside a house. Elliot identified Mateo as the gunman who fired the .45 caliber pistol and Martinez as the man who fired the Thompson submachinegun.

Merle Dyer is a journalist of the U.S. Navy, Subic Naval Base. On June 4, 1971, he was assigned to the U.S. Naval Base at Sangley Point as a photographer. Dyer had no actual knowledge that a robbery was being committed at the American Express Bank, but he had a feeling that something was happening from what he saw and heard. He loaded 20 films in his Nikkon 35mm camera, with 105 mm. lens. He positioned himself at the glass of the window in an office about 75 meters away from the scene. In kneeling position, Dyer took several pictures, using 19 of the 20 films in his camera. The films were processed by a technician and photograph officer at the base laboratory. Among the films were being processed, Dyer was outside the door of the laboratory. Among the films developed, the following are the significant ones:

Exhibit “C” depicts an American holding a gun crouched near a panel truck. In the background is the building housing the American Express Bank inside the U.S. Naval Base at Sangley Point Exhibit “C-1-a” depicts an armed in prone position near a tree with a motorcycle nearby . Exhibit “C-2-a” shows an armed man emerging from the bank building which is a sequence to Exhibit “C- l”. Exhibit “C-3-a” shows a dead man near a tree, one of the armed robbers. Exhibit “C-4-a” shows the American hostage, Daniel Luchyz carrying the sack of money and behind him is the gunman later Identified as accused Gener Filoteo. This is a sequence to Exhibit “C”, Exhibit “C-5” is blowup of Exhibit “C-4” in which the marine hostage Daniel Luchyz and the up accused Gener Filoteo, Exhibit “G-5-b”, are depicted. Exhibit “C-6” shows another gunman herding hostages, Exhibit “C-6-a”. Exhibit “C- 7” shows accused Filoteo at the back of the American hostage Daniel Luchyz, Exhibit “C-7-b” with Goody-Goody truck, Exhibit “C-7-a”, clearly visible. Exhibits “C-8”, “C-9” and “C-10” depict accused Renato Mendozawith bandaged head at the back of the Manager of the American Express Bank. Exhibit “C-11” clearly shows accused Gener Filoteo, Exhibit “C-11-c”, pointing a gun at the American hostage Daniel Luchyz Exhibit “C-11-b”, who was carrying the sack of money near the Goody-Goody truck, Exhibit “C-11-a”. Exhibits “C-12” and “C-13” show accused Renato Mendoza with bandaged head, holding a gun behind the Bank Manager with raised hands and the American hostage Daniel Luchyz, Exhibit “C-12-a-l”, Exhibit “C- 13-b-l”, carrying the sack of money near the Goody- Goody truck. Exhibit “C-1 4 clearly shows the accused Renato Mendoza, with bandaged head behind Bank Managers Rolando Reyes, Exhibit “C-14-1”, and Melanio Mendoza, Exhibit “G3”. Exhibits “C-15” and “C-16” show the persons being herded by a gunman in front of the bank.

Dr. William Hunter, Jr., a physician of the U.S. Naval Command Institution at San Miguel Zambales was working at the dispensary of the U.S. Naval Base at Sangley Point on June 4, 1971. At about 10:50 a.m. the body of the slain Lt. James Plumpowski was brought into the dispensary. Together with two other doctors, Dr. Hunter examined the body of Lt. Plumpowski found two large wounds on the left side of the chest (Exhibits “B-1-a” and “B-1-b”) and a small wound on the left arm (Exhibit “B-1-c”). The marine officer was dead on arrival at the dispensary (Exhibit “B”). Cause of death was external and internal hemorrhage due to gunshot wounds.

Meanwhile at the Bay Court Hotel where the armed group left Rodrigo Estrebillo and Antonio Araquel driver and helper of the Goody-Goody truck, respectively, it was about 2:30 oclock in the afternoon of June 4, 1971 that the two left the hotel. They went towards the police checkpoint in front thereof and boarded a Saulog bus to Manila. Stopping at Baclaran, Estrebillo and Araquel took the JD transit bound for Monumento, alighting at Mandaluyong and from there proceeded towards Quiapo dropping at the Aguinaldo, Inc. office at V. Mapa, Manila. After Estrebillo reported the incident, he was accompanied to the NBI office by Atty. Fernandez, lawyer of the Aguinaldo, Inc., and there Estrebillo narrated what happened to him and Antonio Araquel Atty. Rogelio M. Carlos, Assistant Chief Legal Counsel of the Aguinaldo, Inc., Identified the Goody-Goody truck as one of the properties of the Aguinaldo, Inc. (Exhibits “H” and “H-l”) valued at $1,500.00 (Exhibit “H-2”) Incidentally, the Goody-Goody truck was released to its owner on July 5, 1971 by the Cavite PC Command at Imus Cavite.

After the robbery, Antonio Laforteza, agent of the American Express Company, conducted an investigation on June 4, 1971, together with the company travelling auditor. The investigation revealed that the loss sustained by the American Express Bank as aresult of the armed robbery amounted to P96,532.38 and $41,120.79 (Exhibit “M”).

Immediately after the robbery of the American Express Bank, PC forces under Col. Daniel G. Lira, PC Cavite Provincial Commander, captured Emmanuel Caganap, one of the wounded gunmen, in a house in Cavite City. Interviewed by M/Sgt. Prospero B. Gapas of the Cavite PC Command, Caganap confessed and admitted his participation in the Sangley Point holdup and named as his companions, Ruben Martinez Enrique Concepcion, Manuel Mateo, Jr., Rolando Reyes, and Renato Mendoza. Caganap also stated in the interview which was reduced into writing by Sgt. Gapas (Exhibit “A”) that Ruben Martinez supplied them with three .45 caliber pistols, two carbines, and three M-16 armalites.

At about 5:30 p.m. of the same day, June 4, 1971, the military authorities under Col. Lira received information that Martinez, Concepcion and Mateo were at the residence of Fiscal Dante Filoteo at 535 Guzman Street, Caridad, Cavite City. The house was cordoned and guarded to prevent escape. At 6:00 p.m., Col. Lira met Fiscal Filoteo two or three blocks away from his house. Fiscal Filoteo was informed that the three suspects in the robbery (Martinez, Concepcion and Mateo) were in his house and that he should help facilitate their surrender, but Fiscal Filoteo refused. At about 8:00 p.m., Col. Lira met Mayor Dones of Cavite City, Governor Montano and Fiscal Filoteo at the Pagoda Restaurant. Montano and Dones joined in convincing Filoteo to help in the surrender of the three suspects. Again Filoteo declined and said he was afraid to go to his house because there might be shooting, Finally, at one o’clock in the morning of June 5, 1971 when Fiscal Filoteo learned that the Chief of the Philippine Constabulary would not countermand Col. Lira’s order, Fiscal Filoteo relented and accompanied by Police Chief Del Rosario of the Cavite City Police, Fiscal Filoteo went to his house. Thereafter, Fiscal Filoteo came out with Martinez, Mateo and Concepcion. Confiscated were an armalite from Concepcion (Exhibit “O-1”) and “a carbine from Martinez (Exhibit “O-2”). The three suspects were brought to Camp Crame immediately for investigation. However, only Martinez gave a statement (Exhibit “U”), while Mateo and Conception refused.

On September 30, 1971, elements of the PC-CIS arrested Rolando Reyes in barrio Pugad, Hagonoy, Bulacan. Taken to the CIS office at Camp Crame, Reyes was investigated by T/Sgt. Marcial Admana on October 1, 1971 in the presence of CIS Senior Agent Berlin Castillo and Investigating Agent Cesar Catibog. In an extra-judicial confession (Exhibit “P”), Rolando Reyes narrated in detail the circumstances surrounding the bank robbery in Sangley Point, Cavite City and he named his co-accused herein as participants in the said robbery.

On December 9, 1972, Gener Filoteo was arrested by CIS agents in his place of work in Cavite City. On December 11, 1972, he gave a statement to the CIS before Sgt. Jacinto Astrero which corroborated in substantial detail the confession of Rolando Reyes. Filoteo’s extrajudicial confession appears in Exhibit “Q”, “Q-l” to “Q-7” and Identified himself, Rolando Reyes, Renato and Melanio Mendoza in the pictures (Exhibits “Q-8” and “Q-9”).

On December 16, 1972, the brothers Renato and Melanio Mendoza, accompanied by their mother and former Vice-Mayor of Imus Francisco Herrera, went to see Gen. Cicero Campos at U.P. Village to surrender. As Gen. Campos was not at home, they were told by an aid to proceed to the CIS at Camp Crame. Before Sgt. Astrero Melanio Mendoza executed an extra-judicial confession (Exhibits “R”, “R-l” to “R-3”), describing in detail the armed robbery at the American Express Bank at Sangley Point on June 4, 1671. Melanio Mendoza corroborated in material points the confession of Rolando Reyes and Gener Filoteo. On the other hand, Renato Mendoza executed and signed a statement (Exhibits “S” and “S-l”) affirming the truth of his brother Melanio’s confession. 10

The appellant, Enrique Concepcion, denied having participated in the commission of the crimes charged and interposed the defense of alibi. The trial court summarized his evidence, as follows:

Accused Enrique Concepcion was a police sergeant of Cavite City on June 4, 1971, in-charge of the mobile patrol with tour of duty from 8:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m.. According to Concepcion, he went home after his tour of duty was finished, took his snack, and was about to sleep when policeman Esmeraldo Cruz arrived at about past 5:00 a.m. Cruz told him that Vice-Mayor Eduardo de Guzman would like to talk to him about the suspected killer of the brother of the Vice-Mayor. Concepcion told Cruz that he would follow. Cruz rode in the mobile car, while, Concepcion took his jeep.

At Salem Restaurant Concepcion talked to Vice-Mayor De Guzman who told him to go to the check-point to prevent the escape of the killer of his brother. It was past 5:00 a.m. when Concepcion and Cruz left the restaurant. Cruz parked the mobile car at his house and rode with Concepcion in the latter’s service jeep to the check-point, arriving there at 6:00 a.m..

Cpl. Felix Tiongco was at the checkpoint, Tiongco asked Concepcion and Cruz why they came and he was told that Vice- Mayor De Guzman ordered them to be on the look-out for the killer of the Vice-Mayor’s brother, a certain Roberto Javitan. Pat Manuel Mateo, Jr., also arrived at the checkpoint. At about 9:30 a.m., Cpl. Tiongco received a call from the Vice-Mayor and he told him that Concepcion and Cruz may go home already. Tiongco relayed the message of the Vice-Mayor to Concepcion and Cruz.

At the same moment, a spare-parts dealer from Pasay City, Benigno Medina, arrived at the checkpoint in a jeep containing spare parts for a jeep that Concepcion was then assembling. Medina met Concepcion at the checkpoint and they went together in Medina’s jeep to Concepcion’s house at Makisig Street, San Antonio, Cavite City, to deliver the spare parts. After unloading the spare parts, while Concepcion and Medina were having snack, Concepcion’s wife arrived from the market at about 11:00 a.m. She told Concepcion that there was a robbery at Sangley Point. Immediately, Concepcion went to the police headquarters taking Medina’s jeep. He carried with him an armalite and a .38 Cal. revolver. Concepcion asked the Desk Officer Pfc. Virgilio Salazar (now dead) about the Sangley Point incident, and he was told by Salazar that he was a suspect with a shoot-to-kill order for him and that he better see the Police Chief Del Rosario.

Concepcion, went to Del Rosario’s residence and was waiting for more than an hour, when Fiscal Dante Filoteo arrived. Concepcion told Fiscal Filoteo that he was a suspect in the Sangley Point case and that there was a shoot-to-kill order for him by the PC. Filoteo told Concepcion that he would contact the PC Commander about it. Concepcion stayed until about 1:00 p.m. at the house of the Chief of Police, but he left when the Police Department called the Chiefs house that he could not come home. Concepcion then proceeded to Fiscal Filoteo’s house. At about 2:00 p.m., Mateo and Martinez arrived at the Fiscal’s house and told Concepcion that they too were suspects in the Sangley Point robbery; that they also went to the residence of Chief of Police, but did not see him that they were told that Concepcion went to the residence of Fiscal Filoteo; and that they followed to seek the aid of the Fiscal to surrender.

At past midnight of June 5, 1971, Fiscal Filoteo arrived at his house, which was then surrounded by soldiers. Concepcion recognized Fiscal Filoteo and told him to come in. Filoteo led the three-Concepcion, Martinez and Mateo-outside and surrendered them to Col. Lira, the Provincial Commander. According to Concepcion, a.38 caliber revolver was grabbed from his waist by a PC soldier. No receipt was issued to him for the revolver because according to him, there was a commotion when the PC Soldiers disarmed Fiscal Filoteo of his firearm. At past 1:00 a.m., Concepcion, Martinez and Mateo were brought to the CIS, Camp Crame, where they were investigated and charged with illegal Possession of firearms. However, they were acquitted of the offense (Exhibit “3-Concepcion”). 11

This appeal involves the determination of the question of whether or not the accused-appellant Enrique Concepcion conspired with his co-accused in the commission of the crimes charged. Counsel for the appellant contends that there is no iota of proof that the appellant actually participated in the commission of the offenses charged and/or in the furtherance of a conspiracy to rob the American Express Bank at the U.S. Naval Base in Sangley Point, Cavite.

The contention is devoid of merit. Conspiracy need not be proved by direct evidence. It need not be shown that the parties actually came together and agreed in express terms to enter into and pursue a common design. The assent of the minds may be and, from the secrecy of the crime, usually inferred from proof of facts and circumstances which, taken together, indicate that they are parts of some complete whole. If it is proved that two or more persons aimed by their acts, at the accomplishment of the same unlawful object, each doing a part so that their acts, though apparently independent, were in fact connected and cooperative, indicating a closeness of personal association and a concurrence of sentiment, a conspiracy may be inferred though no actual meeting among them to concert ways and means is proved. 12

In the instant cases, the accused Emmanuel Caganap, Rolando Reyes, Gener Filoteo, Melanio Mendoza and Renato Mendoza stated in their extra-judicial confessions given to PC investigators soon after their arrest, 13 that the appellant, Enrique Concepcion, was their companion in robbing the American Express Bank Branch in the U.S. Naval Base in Sangley Point on 4 June 1971. Rolando Reyes and Gener Filoteo also stated that the appellant was one of those who acted as “look-outs” outside the base and waited for them outside the hole they had previously made in the wire fence to facilitate their exit from the naval base. Melanio Mendoza and Gener Filoteo further stated that they saw the appellant inside the Bay Court Hotel talking to Ruben Martinez. These extra-judicial confessions were given when the presumption of law was in favor of spontaneity and voluntariness of a confession and it was incumbent upon the accused to destroy that presumption; 14 and yet, no evidence had been presented to overcome that presumption except the retracting testimonies of Gener Filoteo, Melanio Mendoza, and Renato Mendoza to the effect that they did not give the implicatory statements. However, the accused Emmanuel Caganap and Rolando Reyes, who both pleaded guilty, did not recant their statements. 15 Besides, the recitals therein reflect spontaneity and coherence and are replete with details that only the confessants could have known and supplied.

The appellant claims, however, that the said extra- judicial confessions of his co-accused should not be taken against him following the rule of res inter alios acta.

The cited rule is not absolute. In the case of People v. Ty Sui Wong16 the Court said:

Since People vs. Badilla, the rule which has been reiterated by this Court in various cases is that extrajudicial confessions, independently made without collusion, which are Identical with each other in their essential details and are corroborated by other evidence on record, are admissible as circumstantial evidence against the person implicated to show the probability of the latter’s actual participation in the commission of the crime.

Inasmuch as there is no proof of collusion among the declarants, their confessions should, therefore, be read together to form a complete picture of the commission of the crime and considered collectively as corroborative or confirmatory of the evidence apart from the confessions themselves.

There is no evidence of collusion and the extra-judicial confessions of appellant’s co-accused are corroborated by Marilyn Tordecillas Orendain, wife of the Assistant Manager of the Bay Court Hotel, who declared that she saw the appellant. Enrique Concepcion, at a little past 6:00 o’clock in the morning of 4 June 1971 in the Bay Court Hotel together with the accused Roberto Martinez and five (5) armed men who rode in a jeep and escorted the Goody-Goody truck to the hotel premises and left the hotel together at about 9:00 o’clock that morning.

Conspiracy can also be inferred from the fact that after the commission of the robbery in the U.S. naval base, the accused appellant and his co-accused, Manuel Mateo, Jr. and Roberto Martinez, fled together to the house of Fiscal Dante Filoteo, where they “holed out” until they were persuaded to surrender to the authorities in the early morning of 5 June 1971.

Besides, the alibi of the appellant is riot convincing. His claim that he was in his house at about the time the robbery was perpetrated in Sangley Point, Cavite, looking over the spare parts which were delivered to him by one Benigno Medina, appears to be an afterthought. No record of the alleged transaction was presented in court and the jeep he was supposed to assemble for one Danny Abarro could not be traced. He reasoned that Abarro who is now living abroad, had allegedly sold the jeep to one Penny Lalana who is now deceased.

The appellant’s claim that he went to the house of the chief of police to seek protection after having been told by the desk sergeant that there was a shoot-to-kill order Out for him and that he then transferred to the house of Fiscal Dante Filoteo in order to get the fiscal’s help in surrendering to the police authorities, is incredible. To begin with, the desk sergeant, one Salazar, who is now conveniently deceased, could not have told the appellant at 11:00 o’clock in the morning of 4 June 1971 of an alleged shoot-to-kill order as a result of the robbery in Sangley Point, because his co-accused Emmanuel Caganap, who implicated the appellant in the bank robbery, was investigated only at about 1:35 o’clock in the afternoon of 4 June 1971.

And, if his purpose in going to the house of Fiscal Dante Filoteo was to seek the latter’s help in order to surrender, why did he not surrender to Fiscal Filoteo earlier when they met at the house of the chief of police? Again, there was no point in going to Fiscal Filoteo in order to surrender when he was already at the police station and all he had to do was to give up to the desk sergeant. It is unfortunate that the said desk sergeant is already dead and cannot answer the appellant’s charge that he was remiss in the performance of his duty to arrest the appellant, pursuant to the shoot-to-kill order.

Moreover, the Court has held in a great number of cases that for alibi to prosper. It is not enough to prove that the accused was somewhere else when the crime was committed, but it must be also shown that it was physically impossible for him to have been at the scene of the crime at the time of its commission. 17

The appellant was in Cavite City when the robbery was committed and his then proximity to the scene of the crime does not rule the possibility that he could be at the scene of the crime at the time it was committed. In fact, the trial court found that the ‘flimsiness of the defense of alibi is exposed by the nearness of the accused to the scene of the crime. 18

The trial court found the appellant guilty of the crime of Robbery in Band with Homicide. This is not correct. In the case of People vs. Pedroso19 the Court said:

… There is no special complex crime of robbery in band with double homicide and/or serious, less serious or slight physical injuries under the present Code, as amended by Republic Act No. 373. If robbery with homicide (or with the other crimes enumerated above) is committed by a band, the indictable offense would still be denominated as “robbery with homicide” under Article 294(l), but the circumstance that it was committed by a band is not an element of the crime but is merely a generic aggravating circumstance which may be offset by mitigating circumstances. The homicides or murders and physical injuries , irrespective of their numbers, committed on the occasion or by reason of the robbery are merged in the composite crime of “robbery homicide.”… (Emphasis supplied)

Accordingly, the appellant should be found guilty of the crime of “Robbery with Homicide.” The penalty of ofreclusion perpetua imposed by the trial court is correct. But, the amount to be paid to the heirs of the slain marine officer should be increased to P30,000.00 in line with the recent decisions of the Court.

We also find that the penalty imposed upon the appellant, Enrique Concepcion, in Crim. Cases Nos. CCC-VII-844, CCC-VII-845, and CCC-VII-846-Cavite City, is not in accord with law. The penalty provided for the offense under Article 294, No. 5, of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, is prision correccional in its maximum period to prision mayor in its medium period, or which is four (4) years, two (2) months and one (1) day to ten (10) years. Applying the Indeterminate Sentence Law, the minimum period to be imposed should be within the range of the penalty next lower in degree, which is arresto mayor in its maximum period to prision correccional in its medium period, or from four (4) months and one (1) day to four (4) years and two (2) months. The minimum of the period imposed by the trial court, which is four (4) years, two (2) months and one (1) day, is obviously beyond the period provided for by law. It should be reduced accordingly.

With respect to the maximum period, there being two (2) aggravating circumstances and no mitigating circumstance, the maximum of the period, which is ten (10) years, should be imposed. The correct penalty to be imposed upon the appellant, Enrique Concepcion, in each of the three (3) aforementioned cases (CCC-VII-844, CCC-VII-845, CCC-VII-846-Cavite City) should, therefore, be imprisonment of from four (4) years and two (2) months, as minimum, to ten (10) years, as maximum.

WHEREFORE, with the modifications above-indicated, the judgment appealed from is hereby AFFIRMED. With costs.


Paras, Sarmiento and Regalado, JJ., concur.

Melencio-Herrera (Chairman), J., is on leave.


1 Original Record of CCC-VII-843-Cavite City, p. 5.

2 Original Record of CCC-VII-844-Cavite City, pp. 1-2.

3 Original Record of CCC-VII-845-Cavite City, pp. 1-2.

4 Original Record of CCC-VII-846-Cavite City, pp. 1-2.

5 Original Record, p. 22.

6 Id., p. 659.

7 Id., p. 418.

8 Brief for defendant-appellant, pp. 97-100, Rollo, p. 74.

9 Rollo, p. 85; Original Record, p. 1410.

10 Brief of the appellee, pp. 5-20, Rollo, p. 86.

11 Brief for the appellee, pp. 21-24, Rollo, p. 86.

12 People vs. Carbonell, 48 Phil. 868.

13 Exhibits A, P, Q, R and S.

14 People vs. Legaspi, G.R. Nos. 55103-04, August 18, 1988 164 SCRA 481, 488, citing People vs. Garcia, 101 Phil. 616.

15 See tsn of July 12, 1971, pp. 6-27 and tsn of February 5, 1972, p. 11.

16 G.R. No. L-32529, May l2, 1978, 83 SCRA 125, 163.

17 People vs. Mercado, G.R. Nos. L-39511-13, April 28, 1980, 97 SCRA 232, 247.

18 Brief for defendant-appellant . p. 86, Rollo. p. 74.

19 G.R. No. L-32997, July 30, 1982, 115 SCRA 599, 608-609.

The Lawphil Project – Arellano Law Foundation

Reflections on a glorious birthday Nov 1959

Reflections on a glorious birthday

The first Marine Corps Birthday I attended was at Subic Bay in the Philippines; Nov 1959. I was stationed at Marine Barracks Cubi Point, a dedicated post flanker on my third year in the Corps, seventeenth month in the PI; holding down and serving well the grand rank of Private First Class--proud as punch of that stripe. 

On previous birthdays I'd pulled duty and only got part of the cake but none of the party. That night would be the first time ever to actually be present and accounted for at a Marine Corps Birthday Party. Anticipation in the off duty section of the barracks was high; shoes were shined to a high gloss, uniforms pressed, emblems coated, brass polished, piss cutters set at a rakish angle--the Cubi Marines were ready, and damn, we looked good!

Off we went.

The party was held Mainside at a brand new club and things started out just peachy. Several of us from Cubi were seated around a table, spiffed to the nines in our class A tropicals minus ties. San Miguel beer flowed like water and a dance band played "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes", "As Time Goes By", and the like; however, there were only about three 
Filipino women present among roughly one hundred Marines from both Cubi and Mainside, so not a whole lot of dancing took place. But the testosterone was there.

It wasn't long before we were all pretty mellow and enjoying a high degree of fellowship as each of us grew more handsome and intelligent with the downing of each beer and the telling of each sea story. 

The cake arrived, was cut by the commanding officer, Col Cash, the ceremony played out and we all enjoyed cake and beer--not an unusual combination at that point in our lives.

Back to more beer.

Not long into the evening, a fight broke out at one of the tables behind ours. Not to worry, we did a lot of that in the PI and a fight was generally part of the evening's entertainment in that fair and exotic city of Olongapo and we were quite used to them. Seems some Sailors and a couple of Marines were in disagreement; which was not unusual either and another thing not to worry about. When the dust settled, the few Sailors who had come were gone.

Then a fight between some Mainside and Cubi Marines broke out. Now things were getting personal.
The band sagely struck up the Marine Hymn and we all abruptly snapped to attention amid a clutter of broken bottles and puddles of beer. The fighting stopped.

The hymn ended and we took our seats and continued downing beer, although a tad on the edgy side.

Then another fight, only this one spread out a bit and involved a few more tables; which began going over with loud crashes. And then a few more tables. More beer bottles flew thru the air. The Marines at Young's table put their backs to the wall and stood their ground, wisely not entering into the fisticuffs and acting only as observers.

By now, the floor of the club was awash in beer and broken bottles as fists continued to fly and Marines cursed and struggled.

The band again struck up the Marine Hymn and for a brief moment, we all came to attention. Then someone threw a bottle at the band. Then some more bottles. The band quickly decamped, the singer hiking up her evening gown above her knees and sprinting like a cat in high heels for the nearest door.

The fighting grew and spilled out of the club onto a surrounding field. One of Young's buddies was jumped by a Mainside Marine and down they went. Another Marine jumped in and now it was two on one against a Cubi Marine. 
Things were really personal now and a wrong had to be righted!

Young grabbed one of the two and was in turn grabbed from behind by some guy who was strong as an ox and hit like a mule!

Down they went and Young was saved by the fact that he landed on top and began to hammer on the mule guy with everything he had; barely holding his own. Young's collar got ripped from his shirt, left hanging by a thread. His lip got fattened and a gash appeared on his forehead. Realizing that if he let go of the mule and for some reason stopped pounding on him, Young would get the beating of his life. He hung on with everything he had and pounded away; trapped, CAGED! And wondering how it the hell was he going to get out of this mess--there was no letting go!

Whistles started blowing from every quarter; AFP and Shore Patrol raced onto the scene and swung into action with their clubs; whacking first and asking questions later---which was the norm at the time.

To the sound of thumping billies and much yelling and cursing, the fighting abruptly ended. Young was rescued from his battle with the mule, which at that point was not going at all well!

Off we scattered like quail. 

A Sailor staggered out of the dark holding a bleeding head, claiming he'd been hit by a brick, small pockets of Marines continued to fight out of range of the AFP, sirens screamed as patrol cars and paddy wagons arrived. 

Young and several of his buddies were stopped, shoved inside a paddy wagon and transported to the AFP station near the main gate. The brigs were full, so we sat on benches lining one wall; somewhat sobered and subdued by the evening's event and our new surroundings.

And there was Young at the pokey, bleeding from the head, a fat lip, loose teeth, collar hanging by a thread, trousers grass-stained and muddy, formerly spit-shined shoes scuffed and filthy, brass dull, aching from head to toe. 

And grinning from ear to ear.

It had been a glorious Marine Corps Birthday. My first and never to be equaled, real, Marine Corps Birthday. One to be cherished until my dying day. It was wonderful with a fight scene just like in the movies!
We were released at midnight and returned to our barracks, chewed out by a cigar chomping 1st Sgt by the name of Armond who seemed to mistake every Marine within reach as, a "low-down, yellow bellied skunk!" and returned to duty.

And that was the end of that.

Semper Fi, and Happy Birthday. Paul R. Young

Standing left to right

Pfc Olgalsby, Pfc A. Young, Pvt Patrick, Pfc Paul Young, Cpl ?

Kneeling left to right

Pvt Lopez, Cpl Montgomery, Pfc Roberts


Cubi Bar Café, National Naval Aviation Museum, Pensacola FL

Cubi Bar Café

Opened in 1996, the Cubi Bar Café is not only a restaurant, but a popular Museum exhibit! The Cafe’s decor and layout duplicates the bar area of the famous Cubi Point Officers’ Club that was a major source of enjoyment for Navy and Marine Corps squadrons, ships and units as they passed into the Western Pacific.

Cubi Bar Cafe

For nearly 40 years, the NAS Cubi Point Officers’ Club, in the Republic of the Philippines, was a marvelous mix of American efficiency and Filipino hospitality. The club was especially famous for its Plaque Bar, where transiting squadrons retired old plaques and commissioned new ones to commemorate each WestPac tour. The tradition of placing plaques in the O’ Club bar was started during the Vietnam Conflict and endured until the closing of the base in 1992.

When the original officers’ club was closed in 1992, the thousands of plaques that adorned the walls of the club as tokens of thanks were packed up and sent to the Museum to be placed as they were when the Cubi Club was closed. The legacy of this Cubi Bar brings back many memories to aviators whose squadron plaques decorate the walls.

The Cubi Bar Café is open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and serves soups, salads, deli sandwiches and dessert. Our breads are baked fresh daily. Most menu items bear names that are a tribute to aviation, such as Aviator Sandwich and the Chicken Pita Pilot. Download our menu or view our Catering Information.

A Cat Story: Retired Cmdr. John L. Sullivan, presents the Cubi Point Catapult story to National Museum of Naval Aviation Director retired Capt. R.L. Rasmussen.

A Cat Story: Retired Cmdr. John L. Sullivan, presents the Cubi Point Catapult story to National Museum of Naval Aviation Director retired Capt. R.L. Rasmussen.

Submitted by From a former “Mud Marine” who tried to ride the Cat and failed. Doug Talley

If you’re old enough to have served in the Navy or Marine Corps during the Vietnam War and particularly if you were an aviator, chances are you’ve heard of the infamous Cubi Point Catapult. Cubi Point Naval Air Station and the adjoining Subic Bay Naval Base in the Philippines was a place where war-weary Navy and Marine Corps aviators, Marines and Sailors, could let off a little steam after flying combat missions over Vietnam or spending weeks on the gunline aboard ships on Yankee Station. The managers of the Cubi Point Officers’ Club, as well as their counterparts at the other officer and enlisted clubs, were forever tasked with devising new and challenging ways of keeping the warriors entertained. Enter Cmdr. John L. Sullivan and the now famous Cubi Point Officers’ Club catapult.

The catapult at the Cubi Point Officers’ Club came into existence in 1969 and immediately created a division within naval air among those who had ridden the cat and caught the wire, and those who had ridden the cat and missed the wire and gotten soaked. The escapades of Navy and Marine pilots at the Cubi Point Officers’ Club, according to Sullivan, is the stuff of legend. “These tale will be handed down and embellished as long as we have aircraft carriers in that part of the world,” Sullivan said in an article he wrote for Wings of Gold magazine.

One of these escapades, according to the retired commander who now lives in St. Mary’s County, involved catapulting a squadron mate down a half dozen stairs in a chair from the bar upstairs onto the dance floor below. “The fact the chair had castors helped little on the stairs. Rarely did a pilot make it down the stairs and onto the dance floor in an upright posture. Most arrived on the dance floor in a crumpled mess. The practice often ended with disastrous results,” Sullivan said. “There were broken bones, severe strains, small concussions and numerous other injuries that grounded crack combat pilots,” former Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet, Adm. Maurice ‘Mickey’ Weisner, said in a recent phone interview. Weisner said that he and Vice Adm. Ralph Cousins, commander, Task Force-77, suggested to Capt. ‘Red Horse’ Meyers, NAS Cubi Point, that the chair catapulting be eliminated because of the injuries.

At the time, Sullivan was the Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department (AIMD) officer. “I was called to the skipper’s office and asked to come up with a solution,” Sullivan recalls. “After a great deal of consultation with my maintenance officers we realized we had an excellent window of opportunity. A new lower club extension to replace an old bamboo bar was in progress. From that point on we let our imaginations run wild.”

Heading off to the surplus yard, Sullivan and his band of AIMD scavengers liberated a banged up refueling tank which was quickly converted by the metal smiths into something resembling an A-7 Corsair II. The ‘aircraft,’ Sullivan recalls, was 6-feet long had shoulder straps and a safety belt and was equipped with a stick that, when pulled back sharply, released a hook in the rear of the vehicle to allow arrestment. Propulsion was provided by pressurized nitrogen tanks hooked up to a manifold. “This arrangement provided enough power to propel the vehicle to 15 mph in the first two feet,” said Sullivan. “Acceleration of zero to 15 mph in two feet is the equivalent of the G force of World War II hydraulic catapults.

“Beyond the exit from the club was a pool of water 3-1/2 feet deep. Each pilot had 6 inches to play with if he was to make a successful arrestment. “We named the vehicle ‘Red Horse One’ in honor of our skipper, Capt. Meyers. Successful pilots, according to the commander, were held in high esteem by their peers and their names were inscribed in gold letters on the club’s Wall of Fame.

“Reaction time was short because the wire was some 14 feet from the nose of the vehicle. The downward curvature of the track had to be precise. The rollers would bind if the curvature were too sharp. “Since the pool water was the force that stopped the vehicle, we had to get the vehicle as deeply and as quickly into the pool as possible. Engineers from the Strategic Aircraft Repair Team used their ‘slip sticks’ to solve the problem. The vehicle was retrieved from the water by a mechanical wench and cable connected to an eye welded to the back of the A-7.

Sullivan said that Rear Adm. Roy Isaman, (Naval Air Test Center commander, 1971-74), had a bronze plaque made in Hong Kong which was bolted to the wall next to the catapult with the inscription, ‘Red Horse Cat-House.’ “The first night the catapult was in operation it attracted a huge crowd. Rear Adm. Isaman was the first to ride the vehicle after it was declared safe by the BIS (Board of Inspection and Survey). No problem since I had recently arrived from the test center at Patuxent River and was declared the BIS representative,” Sullivan recalls.

“Rear Adm. Isaman manned the cockpit, saluted and was launched. He dropped the hook early and we awaited the hook skip but it didn’t happen. Instead the hook caught the rubber we had attached to the steel bumper short of the wire. The hook tore the rubber from the bumper and caught the wire. To the howl of the disappointed junior officers, there was no wet admiral this time. Isaman became the first pilot to trap in the vehicle. “After being presented with a bottle of champagne, Isaman’s name was enshrined on the ‘Wall of Fame.’ Some 40 pilots rode the Cat that night before another successfully trapped,” Sullivan laughed.

Word of the Cat quickly spread throughout Southeast Asia and even attracted Air Force F-4 pilots from Clarke AFB. “They would come swaggering in loudly claiming they were equal to the task. Each and every one of them failed to catch the wire, much to the delight of the Navy onlookers.

“Enlisted men from AIMD operated and maintained the catapult during their off time. They were compensated for their work from funds we took in for the operation of the Cat. It cost nothing to ride the Cat,” Sullivan emphasized, “providing they caught the wire. However, it cost $5 if the rider required rescue from the pool.”

Sullivan said that of the many dignitaries, who attempted to ride the cat, his favorite was Under Secretary of the Navy John Warner (now a U.S. Senator from Virginia). “After flying in from Japan the secretary was taken to the club for lunch by Rear Adm. Isaman and Capt. Meyers. The secretary had heard of the Cubi CAT and unhesitatingly requested to ride it. Capt. Meyers looked at me; I nodded and immediately took steps to get a crew ready. Word spread rapidly that Under Secretary of the Navy John Warner would try his luck. The club was soon packed with onlookers.

“Before launch we outfitted the secretary in a set of white linen coveralls with ‘Red Horse Cat House’ embossed in bright red letters on the back. Amid the cheers of the onlookers, the secretary bravely launched and promptly landed in the pool. We catapulted him five times after that and each time he got wet. The skipper kicked the bumper plate back about an inch each time hoping he would catch the wire. While the official never noticed this, we all did. He told the skipper after his fifth trip into the pool,’it can’t be done.’

“By this time the bumper was back some 12 inches from the wire and was an easy arrest for a pilot who had a launch or two on the CAT under his belt. So ‘Red Horse,’ in his tropical whites, strapped in. Before launch one of the junior officers kicked the bumper forward to its original 6-inch position. Meyers launched and to the delight of the visiting official, settled ignominiously into the pool.

Secretary Warner wouldn’t take off the coveralls. He and the skipper, both wringing wet, set down to lunch with dry colleagues. “Several hours later, still wearing the coveralls, the secretary boarded his aircraft. “The tale of his Cat adventures would be told at the Pentagon, he informed us and the coveralls would be testimony to the validity of his tale.”

Sullivan completed his tour at Cubi Point in 1971 and returned to Patuxent River. “I am happy to say there were no injuries from riding the Cat during that period, only wounded pride,” Sullivan says. Sullivan returned to Cubi Point in 1979, then employed by Grumman Aerospace Corporation as the Project Manager for the C-2 COD. Much to his dismay the Cat was gone. “The tracks were covered and the pool was filled with cement.” Introduced to the new club manager, he asked if I could assist him in putting in a new Cat. I felt like a dinosaur whose time had passed. I believed that as long as there was a Cubi Point there would be a fun place for naval aviators to unwind. In the midst of it all would be the “Cat” and the ‘Wall of Fame.’ Now both are gone. What remains is my fond memories of the officers and men of AIMD whose ingenuity and hard work made the “Cat” a reality in 1969. “Today it remains a 7th Fleet legend.”

The Philippines and the United States: An Historical Time Line


  • 1521 Ferdinand Magellan arrives at Mactan.
  • 1565 Spain ‘colonizes’ the Philippines.
  • 1580 Spanish military and political control are consolidated in lowland areas except for Mindanao, the Sulu Archipelago and Palawan.
  • 1605 Most Filipinos became Catholics before this date.
  • 1762-74 The British occupy Manila. Until this time, the Spanish had been able to impose relative isolation on the Philippines.
  • 1814 Manila is opened to foreign trade.
  • 1869 The Suez Canal is opened, making rade between Europe and the Philippines easier.
  • 1872 The Cavite Rebellion. Hoping to quickly put down an organized revolt, the Spaniards conducted secret trials and excution, but his further angered the people.
  • 1896 Under the leadership of Filipino General Emilio Aguinaldo, major fighting begins against the Spanish.
  • 1897 The Pact of Biak-na-bato temporarily suspends fighting between the Filipinos and Spaniards.
  • 1898 American ships arrive in Manila Bay and with minimal exchange of fire, the Spanish are defeated.
    June 12: Aguinaldo, along with other Filipino leaders sign the Declaration of Independence
    December 12: U.S. and Spanish negotiators sign the Treaty of Paris, officially ending the Spanish-American War and ceding the Philippines to the U.S. for $20 million.
  • 1899 January 23: Aguinaldo and his associates formally proclaim the establishment of the First Philippine Republic at Malolos.
    February 4: Fighting breaks out between U.S. and Filipino forces. The Philippine-American War took about three and a half years, the overall conflict nearly 10 years. Estimate of Filipino lives lost range from 400,000 to 600,000, and American lives lost were approximately 10,000.
    February 6: U.S. Senate votes to annex the Philippines
    March: Protestant missionaries beging arriving on the scene.
  • 1901 March 23: General Aguinaldo captured.
    Subic Bay designated the principal U.S. Naval Station in the Philippines. The Sedition Law passed by the Americans imposing the death penalty or a long prison sentence on anyone advocating Philippine independence.
    The transport ship Thomas sails from San Francisco with 600 American public school teachers bound for the Philippines.
  • 1902 Ft. Stotsenberg, later Clark Air Base, is established as a cavalry outpost.
    La Iglesia Filipino Independiente, (The Philippine Independent Church) is formally organized in many towns taking possession of the Roman Catholic church buildings.
  • 1906 U.S. Supreme Court declares that property taken from Roman Catholic churches be returned.
  • 1907 Local government assemblies formed composed largely of those owning property.
  • 1916 The Jones Law enacted expressing U.S. intention to grant complete independence ‘as soon as conditions are appropriate’.
  • 1934 After considerable Filipino lobbying in Washington, the Tydings-McDuffie Act is passed to provide for a ten-year period of “Commonwealth” status (beginning 1935) to lead to complete independence.
  • 1941 December 7: The Japanese attack Pearl Harbor and Clark Air Base
  • 1944 October 20: U.S. forces return to the Philippine island of Leyte
    October 23: The Philippine Commonwealth is reestablished.
  • 1946 July 4: the Philippines is given its political independence by the U.S.
  • 1947 The Military Bases agreement is signed with the U.S.
  • 1962 June 12 is declared the new Philippine Independence Day.
  • 1970 January through March: Massive student demonstrations in Manila against Marcos and the U.S. Government.
  • 1972 September 21: Marcos declares martial law.
  • 1981 January 17: Marcos ‘lifts’ martial law but retains most ofhis martial law powers.
  • 1983 August 22: Former Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr. is assassinated at Manila airport while returning from exile in the U.S.
  • 1986 February 7: ‘Snap’ elections are held between Marcos and Corazon Aquino, with gross fraud and both sides claiming victory.
    February 22: Marcos defense minister and deputy chief of staff defect and barricade themselves. Massive numbers of Filipinos gather aroundt hem to make possible a near-bloodless transfer of power.
    February 25: Marcos flies to Clark Air Base and then to Hawaii and Corazon Aquino takes over the presidency.
  • 1987 A new Constitution is passed by plebiscite.
  • 1991 Mt. Pinatubo erupts. Clark Air Base is abandoned because of extensive damage.
  • 1991 Philippine senate boots the Subic Naval base out of the Philippines.
  • 1992 Subic Naval base is closed.


This was a standard hand-out to all ships coming into Subic Bay Naval Station describing the facilities and services available on base during the Viet Nam War


The object of this article is to aid those of you who have never been to Subic Bay, in finding suitable places to go. Subic Bay is located on the West Coast of the island of Luzon, approximately 35 miles north of entrance to Manila Bay.


Regular Liberty is limited to the Naval Base and an area within a radius of ten (10) miles from the Main Gate, and expires at the Main-Gate no later than 00:00 every day for U.S. Military Personnel, Officers and Enlisted. There is a 01:00-05:00 curfew in effect in the Subic Bay
Liberty beyond 8 radius of ten(l0) miles from the Naval Station Main Gate will require a special request, showing liberty address, together with the signature of a cognizant Commanding Officer or Executive Officer.

Special overnight liberty ma be granted to personnel to visit immediate families in North and Central Luzon. Special authorization similar to that mentioned in the paragraph above is required.

The Main Gate of the Naval Base is the ONLY Gate authorized for Liberty Parties.

Loitering within the limits of the Naval Base after the expiration of liberty or after closing of various clubs, movies, and other authorized entertainment is prohibited.


The area of Santa Rita on the North end of Olongapo, North and West of Santa Rita River is out of bounds.
Personnel are not authorized to leave the highway between Maquinaya Beach and the Naval Station Main Gate, or to wander off the highways and populated areas in any part of the Naval Base.

During hours of darkness, servicemen on liberty in Olongapo are authorized to be in Jeepneys only on Magsaysay Drive and Manila Avenue from the Naval Station Main Gate (Gate No. 2) to the Grandilla Night Club and on those streets bordering the Public Market.

Venereal Diseases are a major problem in the Subic Bay area. The odds of contacting venereal disease are high. Don’t jeopardize your future liberty and the health of your shipmates by exhibiting too much zeal while on liberty.


The Republic of the Philippines unit of currency is the Peso. The current rate is about 3.90 Pesos to 1 US dollar. This exchange rate may change. Personnel may exchange MPC for Pesos at the Navy Exchange booth (adjacent to the Main Gate leading to Olongopo) or Cashier’s Window Main Navy Exchange.
Hours of Operation are:
Exchange Booth Daily 10:00 to 22:00
Main Exchange Monday, Friday 08:00 to 17:00
Saturday 08:00 to 13:00

Jeepney service ($.05) is available in the Naval Station and Naval Supply Depot Areas.
In Olongapo, Jeepney service is used exclusively and costs 10 centavos to any part of town. Personnel are advised to travel in Jeepneys with other Americans when traveling late at night in Olongapo and to stay on the main street.

Commercial bus service to Manila is available at the Main Gate for personnel holding written, permission to leave the military reservation.


Numerous restaurants and clubs are operated on the Navel Base and personnel are strongly advised to patronize these activities rather than those in Olangapo. A station restaurant is open daily from 06:00 to 20:00 Various Navy Exchange Snack Bars are also available from 06:00 to 20:00 daily. The New Officers, CPO, and Enlisted Men’s’ Clubs are highly recommended. All are air conditioned and are in close vicinity to boat landings.

Personnel are not advised to eat in Olongalpo due to a general lack of sanitary facilities. However, four restaurants sometimes patronized are: The Admiral Restaurant for American and Philippine Food, El Papagayos for Mexican Food, Kings Restaurant and the Pagoda for Chinese food. Numerous bars are available and all employ hostesses except the American Legion Hall and a few smaller bars.


ENLISTED MEN’S’ CLUB It is completely air-conditioned, offers complete food and drink service from 11:00 to 24:00 daily, and features live music nightly plus Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
Entertainment is provided nightly, consisting of local and Manila acts, from 19:00 – 23:00.
BINGO is conducted each Wednesday with substantial cash prizes.
Uniform of the Day or appropriate civilian attire is required.
CPO CLUB Uniform of the Day or appropriate civilian clothing
Monday-Friday 11:00 – 23:30
Saturday, Sunday, Holidays 10:00 – 01:00
Monday- Friday 09:00 – 23:30
Saturday 09:00 – 01:00
Sunday 09:00 – 24:00
Saturday 09:00 – 01:00
Monday-Friday 15:00 – 23:00
Sunday 15:00 – 24:00
Sunday-Thursday 11:00 – 23:00
Friday-Saturday 11:00 – 01:00

ENLISTED MEN’S’ CLUB The Sky Club, the Enlisted Men’s’ Club at Cubi, is located in SEABEE Area about one mile from the Administrative area of the Naval Air Station.
It has a snack bar, a stage, ample floor space that is well furnished with a large amount of dining tables and a souvenir counter.
Beer and mixed drinks are served.
Movies are shown every night except BINGO night.
Monday-Thursday 16:00 – 23:30
Friday 16:00 – 23:30
Saturday 13:00 – 00:30
Sunday-Holidays 13:00 – 22:30
CPO CLUB The CPO Mess (Open), better known as The Top O The Mark serves beer and mixed drinks.
Food is served at the snack bar and in the dining room.
BINGO is played on Thursday beginning at 19:00, and is followed by a dance until 01:00.
Authorized uniform in the club is short sleeves unless otherwise specified. Appropriate civilian clothing is accepted as proper.
Monday-Friday 11:00 – 23:30
Saturday 10:00 – 01:00
Sunday 09:00 – 24:00
OFFICERS’ CLUB Located across from the Cubi Recreation Center.
Drinks are served at reasonable prices. Steaks, sandwiches, and other short orders from the snack be are available in the bar.
Dinner is served in the dining room.
Short sleeve shirts are appropriate civilian attire.
Happy hour is scheduled each Friday night from 16:00 to 18:00.
Sunday 16:00 – 18:00
and the days
preceding Holidays 09:00 – 01:00

“Subic” was derived from the native word “hubek”, which means “head of a plow”.

“Subic” was derived from the native word “hubek”, which means “head of a plow”. The origin of the name was a by-product of altruistic colonial enterprise.

On a bright day in 1542, Juan de Salcedo, the able Spanish conquistador and dashing grandson of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, founded Subic while collecting tributes in the area. The town’s name at that time is Hubek. How this name was chaged to Subic is the stuff of persistent leged. It tells of Salcedo’s mispronouncing “Hubek” as “Subiq”. By the time of the American occupation of Subic, the Yankees mispronounced “Subiq” into “Subig”.

Later on “Subig” became “Subiq” again, but the letter q – apparently of Spanish origin – was replaced with letter c, hence the name “Subic”.

Spanish Period

Nearly 86 years after Spain had established in September 1776 its main naval base in the Philippines in Manila Bay, the British took over the place, which prompted the Spanish military to scout for the next promising naval station. The expedition returned with the good news for the naval command – a natural bounty and deep waters at Subic Bay. King Alfonso II issued a decree in 1884 that declared Subic as “a naval port and the property appertaining thereto set aside for naval purposes.” Construction of an arsenal and ship repair yard ensued March 8 the following year, as ordered by the new settlers’ Naval Commission. Subic Bay’s potential as naval station reached the land of Commodore George Dewey, that in 1898, he and his men engaged in a battle that destroyed the Spanish Army. The star spangled banner found its glory in Subic Bay in December 10, 1899.

American Period

In 1902, Rear Admiral Robley D. Evans, Commander of the Asiatic Stations, directed 200 Marines for an expeditionary force for the first U.S. fleet exercise in Asian waters. Guns were erected on Grande Island and Admiral Evans laid plans for emergency repairs of the station at Subic Bay but was denied assistance by the U.S. Five years later, the U.S. Congress finally appropriated funds for a full-scale Subic Bay Naval Reservation. Words from then President Theodore Roosevelt goes: “If we are to exert the slightest influence in Western Asia, it is of the highest importance that we have a naval station in Subic Bay.” Subic Bay is now on the rise of being one of the best training areas in the Corps. But with the U.S. – Japan tension heating up, appropriations for operation and maintenance of the base fell short. Hawaii came in the scene; funding of the development of Pearl Harbor as US main station in the Pacific earned the thumbs up of the Congress. Subic took its ill fate – a promising harbor was left as a small repair station.

Young US sailors in brief respite while waiting for new assignments
Word War I

US was drawn into the war in Europe; Filipinos and Americans worked hand in hand to prepare the battleships for World War I. As if that was not enough, workers at Subic Bay also overhauled 26 German ships, that had been used to transport thousands of American troops to Europe. Likewise, this period gave way for different developments: Olongapo had a taste of some of its best years; the base was lined with trees and plants, and several recreational facilities were constructed. But the skies over the Bay were suddenly raining with stick bombs – the Japanese claimed Subic and Olongapo on January 10, 1942, days after the Pearl Harbor attack, bringing with them the devastation of World War II. Many Filipinos and Americans were killed, several buildings were destroyed, seven seaplanes were sunk, and lines of telephones and telegraphs were sabotaged. The Marines were ordered to withdraw into Bataan then soon to Corregidor, burning all buildings left standing after the Japanese attack. Filipinos torched all the war’s ruins in Olongapo. Filipinos have been subjected to the cruelty of the Japanese for three years, after which the American made a forceful rebound and reoccupied the base on January 29, 1945.

World War II

The Marine station underwent massive reconstruction and was again ready for naval endeavors on September 26, 1945. Shortly after the marines resumed their duties, the Tydings-McDuffie Law set provision for Philippine independence and was granted on July 4, 1946. Nonetheless, the US maintained that it would still retain the country’s military bases. The Philippines, acknowledging its frailty in the Cold War, entered into the RP-US Military Bases Agreement on March 14, 1947. The US was granted the right to retain sixteen military bases and to administrate the town of Olongapo. Several significant urbanization projects were orchestrated, but the most challenging was as gigantic as displacing half the part of a 1,200-foot mountain, that needed around 20 million man-hours, and required five years of labor – the exceptional air station and pier construction of the Seabees was the highlight of 1956 in Subic Bay. Another accomplishment at the height of the cold war was ammunition bunkers and buildings that occupied over 12, 400 acres of the Southwestern part of Subic Bay. Set in the tropical rainforest, ammunition and ordinance from these facilities played a big role in the Vietnam War and in the Gulf War of 1991.

The original 1947 military pact between the Philippines and the US has been amended. The year 1979 witnessed a turning point for both countries – Philippines claimed a sovereign rule over the base and the US area of responsibility was reduced from 24,000 hectares to 6, 300 hectares. What followed was a series of events that would change the course of Subic Bay forever. On June 15, 1991, volcanic ashes and debris rained over the base, devastating Subic Bay and neighboring provinces. Mt. Pinatubo’s fury has left the navy and air force no option but to evacuate all their dependents. When Pinatubo’s rage came to a halt, and American and Filipino personnel restored the base, bringing it back to business in no time. Uncertainty continued hovering the Philippine Senate with regard to the termination of the 1947 treaty. Months-long discussions were held; parliamentary proceedings were organized; and a pro-bases rally was staged, but to no avail. September 16, 1991 surfaced a conclusion – The US had to withdraw its forces and equipment from Clark and Subic, having received the rejection of 12 senators on the earlier proposed new treaty. The lowering of the Stars and Stripes followed suit. The Navy bid farewell to America’s nine decades of military presence on Philippine soil.

The lowering of stars and stripes marks the farewell to America’s nine decades of military presence on Philippine soil.

Post-Cold War

Surprisingly the departure of the Americans did not spell doom. Subic Bay was converted into a commercial zone largely through the efforts of some 8,000 residents of nearby Olongapo City, under the leadership of their mayor, Richard Gordon, who volunteered to protect and preserve 8 billion dollars worth of facilities and property from looting and destruction. Subic has since been transformed and became a model for bases conversion into commercial use after the Cold War with blue chip companies like Coastal Petroleum, Enron and Fed Ex pumping in over $3 billion of investments creating 70,000 jobs in the free port’s first four years. It was host to the 4th APEC Leaders’ Summit on November 24, 1996 and . FedEx’s Asia-Pacific hub, Asia-One, was also located in Subic Bay for almost ten years..

In addition to commercial use, Subic Bay is also a popular destination for weekend visitors from Metro Manila. Attractions include several beaches, an underwater aquarium, jungle survival tours, racing and duty-free shopping centers.

Mount Santa Rita

The U.S. Naval Link Station, Mount Santa Rita was a located in the Zambales
Mountains, on the island of Luzon, in the Philippines. There were approximately 15 U.S. Navy personnel permanently attached to the station, and 3 Marine guards.
The tower had 5 microwave links, which transmitted to Subic Bay, Clark Air Base, Cubi Point, San Miguel, Sangley Point and the Embassy in Manila. Prior to SATCOM,the only communications link between the operating forces stationed in Vietnam and the U.S. went through Santa Rita. The communications link started in Nha Trang, South Vietnam, traveling by underwater cable to NAVCOMMSTA Phil at San Miguel, to Mount Santa Rita, then on to Clark AB, to the HF transmitter site at the Naval Radio Transmitter Facility (NRTF) Capas Tarlac, Luzon in the Philippines; which in turn transmitted signals to the U.S.