“…in a crowded public transport, once you leave your seat, another person is just too eager to take your place…” Masbate has been a total unknown to me. The closest that I have anything to do with the island was that I had a classmate back in high school who was from that place. So when an opportunity to go home early this year presented itself to me, I grabbed at the chance to visit this place*.
Instead of hopping on a plane and get home via the shortest way, I decided to take the Pilar (Sorsogon) – Masbate – Cebu route. The Matnog – Allen trip via Samar and Leyte is also another possibility but I’ve already passed there before. Of course, its an opportunity to mark off the white areas in my travel history and go the longer way which I always like.
A night’s bus trip from the Philtranco Pasay terminal starts my journey to Pilar Sorsogon. As there’s always the possibility that seats might not be available if one just goes there at a whim, it is advisable to get the ticket a few days before. If it’s not passenger season, earlier in the day of the trip itself is okay. It cost me P800 for a 12 hour bus ride to the Sorsogon wharf.
Like all my bus trips before, I wasn’t able to sleep well due to the constant stops, bumps and outside noise that when I got down in Pilar, Sorsogon a little past 4 AM, I was still sleepy. The town, by the way, is just next to Donsol, whale watching capital of the country. When I reached the port, I was taken aback that even at this early, the various pumpboats and fast seacrafts were already crowded. Alas, the tickets for the latter were already sold out and the next trip is still four hours away.
I opted to take the slower but cheaper pumpboats. I reasoned that despite the inconvenience and long travel time, it affords me a better view of the sea. Fastcrafts on the other hand traverse the Pilar – Masbate route in two hours compared to the minimum five when taking the former costing a few pesos below P200.
Pilar is one of the vital piers in Bicol that serves primarily the outlying areas. It is an important gateway to Masbate and destinations at the other two major islands as well as various islets. Coming from Manila, one can also take the ship direct to the island province.
The vessel that I was to take was almost full when I arrived at the assigned boat. Inside, no seats were available as it was really crowded. I did find one at the exposed top where several plastic chairs were set up. Fortunately, the weather was good as any kind of precipitation can be a disaster. The elevated position also shielded the passengers from the occasional sea spray.
One of the disadvantages of a crowded public transport is that once you leave your seat, another person is just too eager to take your place even if your things are there. In my case, I was walking around the vessel to take photos of the seascapes that when I returned, a woman was sheepishly smiling at me. Well, I just let it pass and went to another area where I had a more spectacular view of the sea and islands. By 9 AM, I started to feel the heat of the sun beating down on me.
After taking more than a hundred shots, the scenery just becomes boring especially if the sun is already way up and becoming hot. The quality of light is already not good that later, instead of taking photos of islands, I trained my lens on the people who were at first conscious but later eased up.
Boat trips like these can be taxing and uncomfortable but for the jaded adventurer, the scenery is rewarding and eases all inconveniences. Travel time might be long but its way cheaper.
*Nina’s post on Donsol included important information for an alternate route to Cebu.