Bound to Romblon
Halfhearted and without an extensively researched itinerary, I woke up Saturday morning of October 30, the start of Halloween long weekend for 2010, packed my bags, rode a bus to Batangas Port and purchased a ferry ticket to one of the most overlooked tourist destinations in the Philippines – Romblon.
The thought of going to this province for a long weekend came just two days before the start of the Halloween break. Initially, I really have no idea on how to go; what to see and do; where to stay and eat; and what’s in store for me in Romblon. My childhood learning of it being the country’s marble capital is the only sure thing I know of the place.
There are plane companies flying to the province, but as expected on a long weekend of a national holiday, the fares were sky rocketing. My only option for a cheap travel was to try my luck in ferry ride along with the expected influx of travelers going to their provinces to pay visits to their departed.
The ride from Buendia, Pasay to Batangas Port took three hours and cost P166.00. The bus reached the busy port by 2PM. There were two ferries leaving for Romblon that afternoon, Montenegro Line’s M/V Reina del Rio and CSGA Ferry Corporation’s M/V Princess Annavell. I chose Montenegro’s 5PM ferry over Princess Annavell’s 4PM. The Montenegro fare cost P634, inclusive of travel insurance (P15.00), slightly higher than the Princess Annavell.
I entered the terminal building, paid P30.00 for the terminal fee and waited for the ferry departure. The passenger’s waiting area was crowded. I sat in an empty seat and spent the two-and-a-half hours idle time watching people: excited passengers; busy hawkers; and people offering massage, manicure and pedicure. At 5PM, boarding for the Odiongan and Romblon bound Montenegro Ferry was announced.
I occupied the upper economy bed of bunk #99. The ferry looked more clean and comfortable than M/V Princess Annavell that I saw docked in the port. At 515PM, our ferry departed for a 14 hours trip.
The weather was a bit cloudy and it was already getting dark. As usual, the economy section was a mess, nevertheless it was a totally fun experience. My bedmate, a man in his 50’s was smoking one after the other; below me were old couple as if in their honeymoon. Sweating and feeling like a smoked fighting cock, I decided to transfer to an empty bed, three bunkers away. Without so much to do or see, in the ferry, I just lay down my bed and tried to sleep, but the laughing and talking passengers; shouting and playing kids; crying infants; the loud audio of music players and portable TV playing an old Pacquiao fight; and the noisy poultry that blended to the sound generated by waves and ferry machinery kept me awake for some time. After a while, I got immune to the noise and fell asleep. When I woke up, the boat was about to dock to the port of Odiongan, Tablas Island, Romblon, it was half past the hour of 3AM.
The boat stayed for an hour in the port of Odiongan before proceeding to Romblon, Romblon. Another two-and-a-half sea travel, and at seven o’clock in the morning, we reached the provincial capital – Welcome to Romblon!
PS. What I did in Romblon is a different story
Getting There and Away
Tablas Airport is the gateway to the province by plane. AirphilExpress and Sea Air regularly fly to and from Romblon everyday.
By sea, with the rough waters especially during the “ber” months, Romblon is an adventure. Several shipping lines serve Batangas – Romblon (Odiongan, Romblon, San Agustin and Sibuyan) everyday.
Montenegro Ferry – (043) 723-6980 / (043) 723-8294
Departs Batangas to Odiongan, Rombon and Sibuyan every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday at 5PM. Economy fare is P584.00 for Odiongan, P634.00 for Romblon and P834 for Sibuyan, inclusive of travel insurance. Return trip is every next day after departure Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.
CSGA Ferry Corporation (M/V Princess Annavell)
Departs Batangas to Odiongan every Tuesday at 4PM and San Agustin, Rombon and Sibuyan (Azagra and San Fernando) every Thursday and Saturday at 4PM. Economy fare is P550.00 for Odiongan and San Agustin, P575.00 for Romblon and P680.00 for Sibuyan. De Luxe fare is P675.00 for Odiongan and San Agustin, P700.00 for Romblon and P800.00 for Sibuyan. Return trip is every next day after departure Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.
Romblon Tablas Sibuyan Lines Inc. (M/V Miss Romblon)
Departs Batangas to Odiongan, Rombon and Sibuyan. Economy fare is P550.00 for Odiongan and Romblon and P600.00 for Sibuyan. Tourist fare is P600.00 for Odiongan and Romblon and P900.00 for Sibuyan. De luxe fare is P700.00 for Odiongan and Romblon and P1000.00 for Sibuyan.
Rapal Inter Island Shipping (M/V Ma. Angelica Grace)
Departs Batangas to Odiongan, Romblon and Sibuyan (Magdiwang) every Wednesday at 430PM and to San Agustin, Rombon and Sibuyan (Magdiwang) every Sunday at 430PM.
Super Shuttle Ferry
Departs Batangas to Odiongan every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 3PM.
Prices and schedules are subject to change; please contact the shipping lines for inquiries.
From Roxas, Oriental Mindoro, a pumpboat departs daily at 10AM to Odiongan and returns on the same day at 1PM. Travel time is two hours. From Odiongan, there are ferries and pumpboats going to Caticlan and Dinagat. Odiongan Port is an hour away by land from San Agustin Port also in Tablas Island, that connects to Romblon, Romblon via twice daily pumpboat that departs at 10AM and 3PM. Romblon, Romblon to San Agustin boats departs at 8AM and 1PM everyday.