Just a few minutes stroll through the city from the main entrance to the Subic Bay Metropolitan Area is Mama’s house. It is not really a house and it is not really hers; it is a tiny, yet comfortable, apartment and she rents it. But as long as I remembered, she had lived there. Daily, after each grueling Catholic instruction, I would drop in for my share of kisses and hugs from Mama.
Continue reading Philippines, a Narrative: More About Mama
Land was in sight in our seventh day on board the USS Juneau. It was the Philippine archipelago and its storied shores. Balikatan would soon commence for us. Balikatan, from the Filipino word balikatan (cooperation), is an annual bilateral training evolution between the United States and the Republic of the Philippines. For my unit, this consisted of American and Filipino marines working together as a tight-knit and integrated force. Moreover, we were to learn a thing or two from them and they from us. Ideally.
Continue reading Philippines,a Narrative: Land in Sight
“I’m not liking it,”
Says one sick U.S. marine.
Groaning, he sits down.
He swallowed hard, his
Tear-brimmed eyes pleading for help.
“Dramamine!” he begs.
Poor fellow named Bob,
Too tall for his tiny rack
Bashed his head again.
Ship gently rocking
In the turquoise sea it rolls.
Many marines puke.
We have yet to leave port on the USS Juneau and already many of us are in a foul mood. Too long have we taken for granted the open sky and the wide expanse of the desert both in Iraq’s Al-Anbar and at home in the middle of the unforgiving Mojave. Space is a scarce luxury in a ship, especially one as small and old as the aging LPD, the USS Juneau. The accommodations are terrible and we are at the mercy of the hustle and bustle and its unceasing din that seems to always tramp through our berthing area unwelcome and unannounced. My squad considers itself lucky for the simple fact that we at least are not cooking in our sleep unlike the unlucky marines below deck.
Continue reading Philippines, a Narrative: Ship Life Sucks