By Bruce Curran
The coaling pier and arches at the western end of Subic Bay, within the boundaries of the old American Naval Base abandoned in 1992, have been brilliantly transformed into a single complex called Vasco’s, which cleverly combines a Restaurant with a Hotel and a Museum.
This thriving and popular spot has long been the brainchild of the resident Australian marine archaeologist and true explorer Brian Homan. Brian first arrived in the Philippines in the 1970s. On the day that Ninoy Aquino was assassinated at Manila Airport, Brian was beneath the waves in Muelle Bay in Puerto Galera honing in on a Chinese Ming dynasty shipwreck full of dragon jars.
Vasco de Gama and Magellan are definitively Brian’s soul mates and fellow explorers from centuries past, and here at this spot Brian named ‘Magellan’s Landing’, one can chill out in these modern times at Vasco’s restaurant with magnificent views over the bay and to the mountains in the distance up the Zambales coast. The restaurant is fully decked out with artifacts, trinkets, charts, artwork ‘magnifique’ and photos that are a fascinating reflection of Philippines history, all experienced and gathered from decades of Brian’s own explorations.
As Brian himself once put it, “Removing sand from a 600 year old wreck and not knowing what lies just a few centimeters to the left or right is a heart-stopping experience!” In 1993 Brian arrived in Subic Bay Freeport aboard a replica Spanish galleon, and by March 2000 he began building what has become Vasco’s – a place not to be missed for its ambiance, its history, and its restful rooms in which to dream deep about history past! A meal and a drink at Vasco’s before or after you soak up the ambiance in the magic museum are a must…and chat with the man himself if you’re lucky!