If You Play in Open Sewers and Ghettoes, Expect the Expected

Barrio Barreto, Philippines, 1984-1989

From October of 1984 through March of 1989, I came to know all there was to know about Subic Bay, Philippines. Angeles City, Manilla, and other places and islands, too—but mostly Subic; or, “Pubic,” as we used to say.

…The Barrio Barreto is a place about 15 minutes and 2 pesos by Jeepney from the central conglomeration that’s Olongapo City. Olongapo has many bars, nightclubs, restaurants and other attractions, but none as raw as the Barrio; none as real. The juxtaposition is palpable. Whereas, one entices newly moored sailors with weeks of unspent pay in their pockets, the Barrio entices the more maturated; those who’d learned a lesson or two.

In a third world country, money buys anything and everything. Boys, girls, several boys, several girls. Combinations. …Cougars. Two or three even, who may like one-another. Money is lubricant and one person’s exploitation is another’s charity, and the families on the other 1,000 islands are glad for the wired money—whether is comes from a seasoned prostitute with dreams of returning home someday, or the one who chooses more wisely for less money, looking instead for a ticket to the 1st world via a Visa and marriage and hopes of bringing the family along in time.

It seems, humans can’t all choose the same values. Dommage.

I Stepped in Shit with Presence of Mind

It would be ridiculous to blog something like this, and assert my lily white status. Nope: I indulged, though my tastes were pretty pedestrian.

…The Philippines is a jungle, equatorial country with a vicious monsoon in June. I’m sure it was the first June in 1984 when I was there a 2nd or 3rd time; but one quickly learns to go out in flip flops, swimming trunks and a light tank top with no umbrella—because you’re going to get soaked no matter what. And, when the rain pours and pours and the next brownout is only 15 minutes away, and the 2-ft-deep open sewers look like mere flowing water indistinguishable from all other flowing water on the street, you might take a bath in shit.

Yin-Yang. Rain is still pouring. So you just shower off.

…The times I didn’t stay at one of the two or three decent places to stay overnight (Hotel Subic, Casablanca, etc), I’d take a motorcycle with sidecar back to the gate at the Subic Naval Base and finish the night in my own bed, in my own stateroom, on the ship.

So many people got and get themselves wrapped up badly in various ways; because, instead of maintaining a Presence of Mind always, they succumbed and succumb to the consequences of any number of possibilities—just or unjust—once having surrendered to that last line of defense which accounts for both just and unjust. In 30 or so visits in 5 years, I always maintained that essential Presence of Mind. It was prescient, at times. Here I am, in a sidecar at 2am, fairly drunk, with some Filipino guy I don’t know driving me down a dark coastal highway. He knows I have money in pocket and a watch on my wrist worth months of what he makes.

Most importantly, he knows I am astutely watching his every move, a thing I signal implicitly, never explicitly, from the outset. I chat him up with Presence of Mind. I know the route as well as he. …And I am prepared to make sure I get where I’m going. With him, or through him.

What’s the Point?

The World and the Internet is Filled With Sewers and Ghettos

The world seems increasingly filled with activists, advocates, victims, and stupid people—but I repeat myself.

On the one hand, I salute the expeditionary ethic. Go get dirty. Fall in shit, even.

Just don’t bellyache and be a pathetic victim about it if you happen to get hurt or someone calls you a NAME! And if you do get hurt, can you please make a distinction between your emotions, and something that bleeds? Mkay? That way, we can all tell what we’re really dealing with.


Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. Kate Ground on January 25, 2013 at 13:51


  2. SteamboatOperator on January 25, 2013 at 14:05

    A few years ago a buddy and I crossed the Mexican border on foot to enjoy some tacos and drinks. It wasn’t our first rodeo so we were fully aware of the dangers. We took a cab back to the border which was only a few miles away. We new the route, so when the cab driver took a strange detour our guard was immediately up. This kind of thing has happened to a couple of people I know, and it’s a talked about thing in that area to be aware of. I called the guy out and he hit the breaks and pulled out a knife (me and my friend were in the backseat). We could have just bailed from the back seat and maybe risked a slash or tow, but we didn’t. Instead we empties our pockets (our money was hidden in our socks) like the cab driver insisted we do. He looked down at my pockets, and that’s when my friend lunges toward the guy, grabbing his arm and pinning it in a weird painful position, as the cab driver jerks and repositions himself in his seat. At that instance I figured the dude could maybe be reaching for a gat or another knife, so I grabbed the knife that he dropped (almost in mid-air like in the movies), reached around him and plunged it into his chest. It all happened in a split second, but in my mind it was all in slow motion. I had the time to think it through, and my conclusion was that I had to put him down, incapacitated him – and well I had done just that. I don’t know if the guy died (we just exited the cab and walked away), but I like to think he did. Fuck him. He learned his lesson the hard way. As for me, I haven’t been back since – I can pick up some equally tasty tacos state side without me having to stash my funds in my ass crack.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 25, 2013 at 14:37

      Presence of Mind. You are never absolved.

  3. Gabriella Kadar on January 26, 2013 at 09:48

    Not exactly sure what it is you are on about. But you are absolutely correct about travelling.

    Presence of mind (if some people are even in their right minds which is questionable in regards to some who are active on blogland) is lacking for sure. My impression is that there are people very active in blogland who are socially dysfunctional, have no ‘real’ friends (as in tangible give them a hug sometimes or just maybe shake hands friends), no experience of the world outside of the job and the computer. But it’s epidemic. Just look at all the dingbats walking around looking down at their iPhones, sitting at a coffee shop looking down at their iPads. The world is passing them by, whatever now consists of the world: people looking down at iPhones with the earbuds of their iPods thrumming noise into their brains.

    Big Brother had nothing on what’s going on these days.

    • Richard Nikoley on January 26, 2013 at 11:15

      Yep, in all the places I’ve travelled all over the world and being out late and such, I always avoided dicey situations by always be very aware of what was going on around me.

  4. CatherineakaCate on January 26, 2013 at 10:46

    I was just admonished to book my 2 am cab, in advance, from Amman hotel to the airport, I was like “are you crazy?”
    Walk outside an hour early, look around, pick one.
    You pick them, don’t ever let them pick you no matter where it is. In all things, really

  5. liam on January 26, 2013 at 12:20

    lived in Philippines for just under a year.Travelled around it twice.The word brownout brought a smile to my face.

  6. Sandra on January 27, 2013 at 19:23

    As someone said, morality is for the middle class. The poor cannot afford it and, for the rich, the world is a supermarket.

  7. Sheena Generalo on September 11, 2013 at 11:57

    My Bio father served in the marines in 1984 I am trying to look for him his name from what i was told is Francisco Bravin “frank”. He knows of me but did not want his fiance to find out about his “relations” with my mother. I think now we are all adults and need to resolve all of this i just want to know where i come from/who I come from. Plus i have 5 beautiful children who i would love to tell my history to. thank you. my email is I am going on every site i can find to find this guy

  8. Sheena Generalo on September 11, 2013 at 12:25

    If anyone has any info on how to find someone who was there in the marines in 1984-1986 PLEASE WRITE ME thank you

  9. […] A Comment from Sheena Generalo just came in. Frankly, I was a bit embarrassed about the post I wrote that she commented on, but that happens often. It was about young life, stupid risk, and bar girls in the Philippines. Wooo even wrote a scathing rant about it she deleted—someone sent me a saved version. …How many times I grit my teeth and hit "Publish" anyway… […]

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