1300H and I was just at the nick of time that I arrived at the pier after a long journey. I was still able to catch the roro ferry in Matnog, Sorsogon bound for Allen, Samar and was thankful enough since I was spared of waiting another two hours for the next trip.
What I like about the Matnog – Allen route is that its just short: one hour and a half compared to longer roro trips (about 4 hours and more) that I had before like the Palompon (Leyte) – Danao City (Cebu), the Argao (Cebu) – Loon (Bohol) or even later, if you’re lucky to clock in at 4 hours the Caticlan (Aklan) – Roxas (Mindoro Oriental) routes. Here, you just sit, or watch the seascape or ruminate on the historic San Bernardino Strait, eat some snack and, BANG, your already at your destination!
What I just don’t like about these ports is that there are just too many fees to pay. It would have been acceptable if they just charge you one rate inclusive of the ticket, terminal fee and insurance but they do not:
- tickets (P90)
- insurance (P15), and
- terminal fee of P11.20
Now, do you know why the 20 centavo rump? When I headed to the teller’s booth, the one collecting is a lady guard dressed with her uniform but doing the function of a collector. She will ask for P12 and if you don’t ask for your change, she won’t give it to you. If you do bug her, she’ll frown, makes this unpleasant expression and hesitantly give what she really owes you! To think that there are so many passengers paying this insurance and most of these people are just too shy or are intimidated to ask for their change.
In other places, like what I experienced before in Oslob, Cebu, once the pump boat from Amlan in Negros Oriental arrives, you are charged a fee for using their wharf! Its just so annoying and inane. But I’m digressing. 🙂
The roro and ferries that make what the government recently has been proclaiming as the nautical highway is really a blessing. Just hop on a bus in Pasay or Cubao and after a couple of stops, sleeps and many many hours later, you’re in Davao. No boring sea and horizon scapes. Instead, you get to see places even from your window only. But just be prepared to forgo some comforts.
There is no lack of sea gypsies who will incessantly beg you for coins. It seems everywhere in big ports. Its in the piers of Manila, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro and even in Tabaco Albay bound for Catanduanes.
The ferry was quite crowded since it was 30 December. But fortunately, I was still able to find a seat to rest and gather my bags. Many were standing along the sides.
Doze off even for just a catnap. Or enjoy overpriced snacks offered at the canteen or from itinerant vendors selling native rice cakes, balut, or barbecued pork and chicken. Or even get some magazines or newspapers from another.