As long as I could remember I was a “summer person” on Cape Cod. My parents fell in love with the place before I was born, and I was one of those kids that turned up around Memorial day, and left as part of the annual labor day gridlock to begin the school year the next morning. The day after my high school graduation I moved to the Cape year round and have been there ever since. For the past 4 years now I have visited Subic Bay, Philippines in November. It is a much longer commute than the hour drive we used to make reach Cape Cod, but I’m now one of those people that turns up once a year for a few weeks. I have learned, too, some short cuts in traveling here, such as flying into Clark International Airport, the former Clark Air force base in Angeles City, instead of Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila. Flights are harder to find for Clark, but the advantages of arriving there are substantial. Clark is much closer to Subic, a clean one hour drive with little real traffic compared to a three hour adventure in Manila gridlock which can easily become five, and maybe six with traffic. Traffic in Manila starts early, and goes late, and the traffic chaos there makes Boston rush hour look like Cape Cod in the winter.
My second trip to Subic I was surprised people remembered me, recognized me. That was probably what triggered the Cape summer person memories. I stopped at the Arizona resort to inquire about rooms, and the girl at the desk welcomed me back. Mark Walton who ran the Arizona dive shop my first trip here, pulled up beside me as I walked down the street and greeted me. I too, recognized some familiar faces as I walked around, and Chris, a local I had met the year before, popped up to shake my hand and ask to borrow 20 peso. It is always a nice feeling to be recognized and remembered, even if it costs 20 peso.
This trip back, my first stop is another summertime memory flashback. After settling in, and after being on the road 29 hours, I’m going to the Fiesta Carnival in Subic. I met Irene on my first trip to Subic in 2013. In the three years since we have spoken in person, on the phone, or Skype every day since, and we have pieced together a non-traditional long distance relationship that has come to include her family, and daughter Ivy Joy, who calls me Dad. This has been my welcoming group each of my last three trips here.
I have promised Ivy Joy a first night trip to the carnival, and after having a good sleep on the plane, and a good nap at the apartment, we load up a cab and head to the carnival. Our goal is the mausoleum, the horror house that is a step up from our usual haunted ride, the horror train. Unfortunately, the Mausoleum is no more, replaced by a much less terrifying flying Jolly Bee ride. We ride the flying bee’s, revisit the horror train, and then drive the only three functional bumper cars, before having dinner outdoors on rickety plastic chairs with matching tables and ladyboy waitresses, while watching a Christmas dance /talent show on the big outdoor stage at the back of the carnival. After this, it is home to sleep, as the kids have school in the morning, and I have a proper night’s sleep in a bed waiting for me before taking Ivy Joy to school in the morning.