One of the big stops on the way to the Middle East while cruising on the old US Navy tubs was the Philippines. If you know any sailors, just ask them about the stories they heard of concerning life there near Subic Bay, before the US pulled out of the bases there.

Now, I'm a patriotic guy, I spent 11 years in the US Navy. I've been to the Philippines twice - but never off the base. I didn't drink, I didn't screw around on my wife, and I was broke anyway. Sometimes you can be amazed at the callous nature of your shipmates, especially when dealing with the "natives" and the stories they would tell.

One of the places everyone in the Tin Can Flotilla knew about was the Shit River, located just outside of the Subic Bay base. There was a bridge over this fetid, stinking morass of human waste and the occasional tidbit of actual H2O. Many kids lined the sides of this bridge, ranging in age from about three to early twenties. The Sailors would toss coins into the river, and the kids would all dive off the rails and the shoreline to try to recover the coin. It became one of the "things to do when visiting Subic Bay".

I've known Bible-thumping folks who did this, and some really nasty folks would bring stacks of coins to get the group to go fishing for a few cents worth of metal. I'm sure the rate of infection in these destitute kids was exceptionally high.

I could never bring myself to do such an act. I had two kids that were very young, and I know I'd feel horrible thinking that my little kids were doing this to make money for the family.

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