mvcatalynd04

MV Catalyn D, 8 months before her sinking

MV Catalyn D docked and ready to sail for Coron

MV Catalyn D docked and ready to sail for Coron

The Cuyo Loop
Cuyo is in blue
In October of 2006, I visited the remote islands of Cuyo and Culion in Palawan for a photography assignment and passed Negros and Iloilo in transit. This is my account of that journey.

This is the 11th of a series I was already set to sail for Puerto Princesa: my ticket has already been paid, I already boarded the ship bound for the Palawan capital and my things were already at my assigned cot. On 10 June 07, 8 months after my Cuyo trip, M/V Catalyn D sunk off Mindoro As it was still in the afternoon, a few hours before the night trip schedule, I ventured out. Directly infront of the ship was M/V Catalyn D. Walking along the street just outside of the pier, I saw the smaller ship’s ticket office and out of curiosity, I asked about their schedule.

To my surprise, they were also sailing that night direct to Coron, my destination. I was in a bind. If I will travel via Puerto Princesa, it would be an additional expense as I still have to book a ticket for Coron and probably stay for a day or two. It would also be a waste of time for me if I’ll do that. With this, I purchased the ticket and transferred.

The cargo hold of the ship

The cargo hold of the ship

M/V Catalyn D is a small cargo ship plying the waters of Palawan and Manila. It provides a cheaper alternative to the bigger and more commercial ships plying the same routes. Unlike, say Superferry, which has a shorter route, the ship covers Cuyo, Coron, Roxas, Mindoro and Manila.

Passenger's section at the second level

Passenger's section at the second level

The bottom and lower decks are for light cargoes while the upper deck are for passengers. They only provide two types of accommodation: a narrow cot which is placed side by side near the window and a double deck located at the center of the deck. The price difference is just P100 and beddings are separate costs.

A quite moment before sailing

A quite moment before sailing

On 10 June 07, 8 months after my Cuyo trip, M/V Catalyn D sunk off the waters of Mindoro Occidental while on its way to Coron. Five people died and around 20 missing after a fire gutted the cargo hold of the ship.

This ship is just one of the many smaller passenger and cargo boats that sail the waters around the country. Yes, its cheap and sometimes, a more convenient vessel to take to a much more remote destination however, because of the vessel conditions, these are more prone to accidents when the weather goes awry.

After I rode Catalyn D, I planned to do a photo documentary on a typical round trip as well as about the crew members but unfortunately, with the incident, plan is postponed.


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Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications.

He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces.

I’m open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.

14 Comments

  1. donG hO
    August 4, 2008 @ 0:41

    ayos to ah! hindi ko to alam. cheap nga. ganyan ang mga sasakyan mo pag pumunta ka ng basilan. hehehe

  2. The Islander
    August 4, 2008 @ 10:39

    sad… at may mga casualties pa. thats one dilemma in traveling the seas. you will never know whats gonna happen.

  3. lagal[og]
    August 5, 2008 @ 16:08

    sayang bai at nabawasan pa ang mga smaller vessels plying the route. interesting ‘tong series mo bai. looking forward to the next installment.

  4. carlo
    August 6, 2008 @ 1:36

    ^ I agree. It’s a good alternative article. Hindi na basta basta travel feature lang… Nagiging pseudo – journalistic na dating mo Estan! That’s great.

    I bet you can also pull off an investigative piece. Go Boy! 🙂

  5. Oman
    August 6, 2008 @ 14:48

    the sinking of the ship was really disheartening. it really made me think twice wether to board a ship or not. kahit kasi anong ingat gawin natin basta pag hindi sea-worthy ang sasakyan natin or kung talagang may mga unforseen events talagang mayroon na di magandang mangyayari eh.

    lagi lang ingat sa biyahe estan.

  6. Traveler on Foot
    August 8, 2008 @ 8:15

    I haven’t boarded a ship, though I’ve worked for the largest shipping company in the Philippines. I’m still not confident with the safety.

    But still I like the theme and mood set in your photos.

  7. Arnold
    August 13, 2008 @ 1:48

    Estan, you really have the spirit of a “National Geographic” explorer.

    Hoping someday that you will be a part of it. :=)

    I’ve been following your “Loop” series by the way, hehe..

  8. Stanleyliew
    August 16, 2008 @ 22:57

    This looks so different from the usual cruise ships. Shows a different kind of traveling. I’ve never seen it before. Thanks for sharing. Cheers!

  9. estan
    August 19, 2008 @ 14:17

    Dong Ho, yep, cheap and a good alternative to the more established and commercial shipping lines. Now, if you’re in Bohol, you should try those in Tubigon where at one point in the day, there’s a bidding war on fares just to attract passengers!

    The Islander, well, ingon ana jud na. But it doesn’t happen all the time. As long as the weather is good, then there’s a bigger probability that your trip is safe. 🙂

    Og, thanx for the visit. One down? well, there’s always some other boat that will take over the route 🙂

    Carlo, hehehe, I’m currently having my Diploma in Photojournalism in Ateneo. That answer’s your questions? 🙂

    Oman, thanx for the advice. In the end, it all boils down to your own decision if you will ride this kind of boats.

    Traveler on foot, ganun ba? what a big irony! you should try it 🙂

    Nold, thanx bai

    Stanley, my namesake, in Cebuano, we call it “sangay.” This kind of travel is way off the beaten path and an adventure in itself.

    Thanx for the visit guys!

  10. jake tan
    August 26, 2008 @ 13:51

    tanx pre sa pag lagay ng pix ng catalyn, isa rin ako sa mga pasahero ng catalyn nung mangyari ang trahedya.. naghahanap kc ko ng photo ng catalyn d as a souvenir.

  11. Pink Ink
    August 26, 2008 @ 14:04

    I just found this post. My gosh, just few months earlier (in
    April) I actually traveled on M/V Catalyn D

    Too bad this happened.

  12. norahd
    September 4, 2008 @ 7:35

    Para sa mga napakamaraming lugar sa Pilipinas na hindi napupuntahan ng mga malalaki, mahusay at mapapagkatiwalaan na sasakyang pang-dagat- ang mga batel na katulad ng MV Catalyn ay isang ga-higanteng tulong para makapunta sa iba’ ibang dako. Higit sa lahat, ang mga katulad ng MV Catalyn ang mga sasakyang pandagat na naghahatid at nagdadala ng mga gamit na kailangan ng ating mga kababayan sa mga malalayong lugar. Ang mga batel ay matatawag nating mga pangsagip buhay para sa mga lugar, mga pulo, mga malilit na bayan na mukhang kinalimutan na ng mga namumuno sa ating bansa.

    Minsan na rin akong “sinagip” ng MV Catalyn. Sa linya na aking trabaho, kailangan kong makisalamuha sa lahat ng sector sa isang komunidad para sa maayos na pagpa-plano ng mga pamayanan. Pero,gaya ng “dati”, nakialam na naman ang mga politiko. Dahil sa ayaw kong maipit sa labanan ng mga politiko kailangan tumakas ako. Salamat na lang at nandun sa pagkakataon na iyon ang MV Catalyn.

    Walang paa-paalam sa mga kasama ko sa trabaho, sumakay ako sa MV Catalyn pabalik sa Manila.

  13. estan
    September 4, 2008 @ 18:58

    norahd, ang mga barko o batel ay talagang nakakatulong ng malaki sa mga maliliit na mga pulo’t lugar na di abot sa malalaking sasakyang pandagat. Malaki rin ang pasalamat ko sa MV Catalyn D na nakasakay ako. Kung hindi, mas matagal o mas magastos yung biyahe ko para lang makarating sa Culion galing Cuyo.

  14. Patrick Jhan
    November 18, 2010 @ 21:18

    Nice pictures,
    my father is a head checker at that time in catalyn d 🙂

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