Saturday, April 16, 2016

Company Picnic

April 16, 2016
Club Morroco, Subic

Every year the company I work with conducts a summer outing, with my colleagues in attendance. This year the picnic, which is usually overnight, was held in Club Morocco Resort, in Subic, Zambales. I always attend these company picnics, as it's a great way for me to connect with my colleagues, especially those from the different departments. It also means that I have one trip guaranteed for the year, although I don't have a choice to the venue. 

We set out early in the morning from the office, around 5 am. There were two buses full plus a coaster of employees who were attending. I was in the coaster, and we were the first to leave as the advanced party. I have the drone with me, and I will be taking some footage to used for a presentation later in the evening. We arrived just before noon due to some traffic in NLEX, and the fact that the bus did not go through SCTEX, but rather went through Bataan. I took some aerial photos as soon as we arrive. There was some scary moment for me when I flew the drone one time; the wind was blowing strongly that I can see the drone drifting until I wasn't able to see it. I increased its altitude until I was able to locate it again, then struggled to land it near the pool. On my mind, the words "oh no, not again" kept repeating over and over until I landed it safely.

The resort was good enough. The place is spacious, and we have the whole resort for ourselves. The pebble beach is nothing to write home about, but the view of the Subic Bay is great. 

There were  a lot of team building activities lined up throughout the day which kept everyone busy, but we all had the chance to lounge in the pool to cool down and drank a few beers (the temp is scorching so nobody went to the beach well until sundown). More activities were done in the evening. There was a bonfire at the beach after dinner, and more beers flowed until late at night. I was so tired after that I slept until 9 am the next morning. We went back to the metro just before lunch time.

Saturday, April 9, 2016


I took so many photos during the visit to the Clark Air Base that I think a second post is warranted. 

I saw two more A10 Thunderbolt deep in the apron, but I gt shooed away by a US serviceman, so I just took a photo using the zoom lens.

I can't get enough of the FA50 aircraft of the Philippine Air Force. Here's a video of it being towed to the tarmac as well.

Before the FA50, the only jets in the PAF inventory are the Aermacchi S211, bought in the late 1980s-early 1990s. They look so small now. It is armed with small unguided 2.75-inch rockets

The E3 Sentry AWACS aircraft with its distinctive radome, which contains the radar. 

The P8 Poseidon anti-submarine warfare aircraft, which will replace the P3 Orion. If it looks familiar, it's because it is based on the Boeing 737 passenger jet.

The V-22 Osprey is a tilt-rotor aircraft that enables it to take off vertically like a helicopter.

US personnel posing in from of the HIMARS rocket launcher.

The AGM-65 Maverick missile under the pylon of an A10 Thunderbolt. 

Air Force City

The visit to Clark Air Base in Angeles City this Saturday is apt, as the nation is commemorating the Day of Valor, celebrating the Filipino bravery during the World War II. What a better way to celebrate that by viewing military aircraft that was displayed at the end of the Balikatan military exercises (between the US, Philippine and Australian forces) in Air Force City in Clark?

KAI FA-50 aircraft

We set out early, me and my friends from the UP Astrosoc, James and Ramon, (plus two friends of James who tagged along), driving to Clark via NLEX. We arrived there around 10 am, and after registering in the visitor center, went to the hangar to view the aircraft on display.

AugustaWestland A109 Power helicopter

Among the highlights were the recent purchases for the Philippine Air Force: the KAI FA-50 lead-in fighter trainer, the Italian-made AugustaWestland AW109 Power helicopter, and the PZL W3 Sokol helicopter, made in Poland and used for SAR missions. 

The Polish-made PZL W3 Sokol SAR helicopter

I was particularly glad to see the South Korean-made FA-50, as it is the first supersonic aircraft for the PAF since the F5 jets were decommissioned more than a decade ago. I think I was fangirling when I saw the two aircraft being towed to the tarmac after doing some flybys over the airbase. I can almost hear Kenny Loggins singing Danger Zone in my mind while I was watching the aircraft flew overhead.

I chatted some of the PAF personnel while it was being towed, and I think they were happy with the purchase as well.

The CH-53 heavy-lift helicopter

The US military displayed many of their wares too. Among them are the A-10 Thunderbolt attack aircraft, the P8 Poseidon anti-submarine warfare aircraft, the C-17 Globemaster II and C-130 cargo planes, an E3 AWACS early warning and electronic warfare aircraft, the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, several helicopters (the CH-53, which is the largest in their inventory, and the AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter), and a carrier-based transport aircraft. They also displayed the HIMARS rocket launcher system.

Inside the cavernous cabin of CH-53 heavy-lift helicopter

There was some talk that a B-52 strategic bomber will be displayed as well, but it was a no-show, so it was kind of disappointing not to see the 50-year old aircraft.

The C-17 Globemaster strategic lift aircraft

The A10 Thunderbolt

The HIMARS rocket launcher

Inside the C-17

For the Australians, they showed their P3 Orion ASW aircraft, and while not on the display area, an A-4 Skyhawk attack plane. I went inside the Orion and was able to talk to the pilot and the weapons specialist, querying them them about the weapons and the sonobouys that they use to detect the submarines. I was also able to take some snaps while sitting in the pilot's seat while inside the cockpit.

The P3 Orion ASW plane cockpit

I think the sunburn was all worth it today.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

The Aftermath

This post is not really travel, per se, but it's a bit of traveling back in time. I, with my friend James, went to take some drone photos of the University of the Philippines Faculty Center, which was gutted by a fire on April 1. Fortunately the guard and the building administrator gave us their permission to fly the drone from a road adjacent to the building. I promised the admin I'd send him copies of the photos, which he said could be useful in the investigation.

The building, colloquially called FC by the students and staff, is one of the places in the university that is memorable to me. I used to work there as a student assistant when I was in college (Department of History). Almost all of my History professors hold offices there too, as well as my European Languages and social sciences professors. Almost all of my class cards, with good grades and bad, I claim them in FC. I spend a lot of time in FC in every enrollment period, waiting for the profs to give me a slot in the classes. 

The building is very important to the university too. It houses several departments, including History, Anthropology, Philosophy, European Languages, and Linguistics (you'd think Indiana Jones lives here with that amount of scholarship in a small building). I heard from my prof, and from our former department admin assistant, Ate Vicky, that a lot of manuscripts, rare books, thesis and dissertations, and student records were lost in the fire, which really was more tragic than just losing the building itself.

Hopefully the University can build back better, and the academic community that has been nurtured by this building can bounce back. 

Here's a video too: