Islandhopping 101: Best Guide In and Out of Roxas City


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La Playa de Roxas, People’s Park Brgy. Baybay Roxas City

“I really love this city, It is beautiful and It’s so multidimensional. People say it has a darkness and a decadence, which it tries to hide; they say it’s full of the pretentious and opulent trying to strangle the dark reality. But that’s true for most of the other great cities too. . . .
There is a soul here . . . and that soul is as pure as the heat of the sun that shines down on it and the rain that falls to purify it.”

Umair Naeem, Drowning Shadows

The first time I set my foot here,  first thing comes on my mind is the scent of its air, like a perfume that goes inside my head and send me to a euphoria that brought me back to my good memories of the beautiful Obando in Bulacan. The familiar scent of a fishpond, rivers and muddy sea; it smells fish, crab and oysters- and most of all it smells MONEY. However,  Roxas City is much better version. The city, dubbed as the”Seafoods Capital of the Philippines” looks classy and yet simple on my first impression, and so does my second. It has a well maintained city street  with flourishing businesses on each and every corner, at the other side of the river is the century old structure and a museum which I believe a welcome treat for every first timer here; their “Baybay” or beach front – facing the Sibuyan Sea, known to be a rich fishing ground – it has plenty of reasons to fell in love with, for one is their restaurants (along Baybay) which offers variety of mouth watering seafood; two, is the many places to explore and get a change to grab some photos- almost filling the entire 8Gb of memory of my dslr camera. Pueblo de Panay on the other hand, is quite unique to my eyes because of the vast landscape of greenery with establishments (worthy of a visit) sprouting all over the rolling hills- it made me wish to stay for few more days and maybe, just maybe I might be coming here every now and then. And finally,  the most promising tourist attraction is the majestic shrine of Sacred Heart of Jesus standing over the hilltop comparable to that of the Christ the Redeemer of Brazil which can be seen far off-shore. How about that for Roxas City!

I have been here twice before, the last one was just three weeks ago- exactly five days after New Year’s celebration. Coming here together with a friend was a welcome treat for us. As planned months earlier, we embarked on a 36 hours long Island hopping adventure coming from Dumaguete on our way to Batangas/Manila. Actually, traveling here  was like a mere familiarization to the once Off-the-beaten-path, but for my companion being his first time it was an adventure of a lifetime. Our trip here (as my traveling companion have said “rather unusual because we were traveling on foot at the not so quite familiar road heading to our destination”) was rather not easy as we took every transportation available- slow boat, bus, jeep and tricycle ride; our trip took us on a route from Dumaguete heading to Bacolod City then on Dumangas-Zarraga up to the City of Roxas. And after few hours of strolling and gazing on a landscape of the city within late afternoon we were sailing on a calm sea towards the island of Romblon, Romblon, and then further more to Port of Batangas before heading to Manila. After a two days of rest, I myself, on my homeward bound took the same road again, the Manila to Batangas (2 hours bus) then took a 19 hours boat trip for Roxas City, then another two hours bus ride to Iloilo City before heading to Bacolod via fast craft,  and culminating my trip is a six hour drive down south to Dumaguete City, indeed a  back-breaking and mind boggling travel. So eager to know how to do it? Well, follow this easy tips:

Coming from the Backdoor

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Going to Bacolod via Dumaguete is not really a big problem as big buses of Ceres Tours plies on this route every now and then,  it goes directly to Mabinay then to the City of Kabankalan before heading to the City of Smiles- after several more stop. The trip  last for six hours and cost 270 Pesos for ordinary buses and 359 Pesos for air-con buses.

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If you’re coming from Cebu City just head to Port of Toledo in Toledo City,  from there board a fast craft for San Carlos City in Negros Occidental. Once arrive you have to take a short tricycle ride to the bus terminal going for Bacolod City.

Click on the link to see ferry schedule: Toledo to San Carlos ferry 

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Once in Bacolod City take a public transport vehicle to BREDCO Port and then hop on-board on one of these RO-RO vessel forDumangas Port. Fare charges for each person cost less than a hundred pesos, travel time usually last about two hours.

Click on the link to view Ferry schedule:  Bacolod-Dumangas vv.  RORO Guide (2016 update) 

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Note: You may also board a Fast craft such as this heading to Iloilo City or vice versa. The lowest fare for this fast craft per person usually at 200 Pesos plus terminal fee of 30 Pesos, and travel time last about an hour or more.

Dumangas Port

Upon arrival in Dumangas Port you only need to take a little walk heading to the exit, a barker will approached every passenger and points to the numerous tricycles queuing one after another awaiting for passengers, I took one of these public transport to reach the town of Dumangas. Travel time usually last for about 10-15 minutes and cost about 15 Pesos per head.

Side note: Photo above shows the Fast craft terminal in Iloilo City. Just in case you opted this destination upon arrival to this Port you need to board a Jeep heading to SM Delgado and then from there another Jeep going to Tagbak Terminal. Bus terminal (the newly constructed building along the highway) going to the northern destination such Caticlan or Roxas City is located in Tagbak, Jaro.  Cost for the two Jeepney ride would be at least 30 Pesos per person. If you’re not in the mood for a Jeepney ride then you may opt for a Taxi ride, flag down rates cost about 40 Pesos and if you’re lucky your fare would reach to about 100 Pesos less.

To view latest ferry schedule, please click your mouse on the link: Roro & Ferry Schedules

On the other side of the town away from Iloilo City is the sleepy town of Dumangas – 24 kilometers away from the capital- about a hundred meters away from its town hall is the public transport terminal for passenger Jeepney’s and Vans which usually all in queues to take  passengers. Their service usually last from sun up to sun down. Jeepney route usually goes to Iloilo City via Zarraga and vice versa, whereas Van for hire take the Coastal Road in route to Iloilo City (Baldoza Terminal, La Paz).

Side Note: Back in Iloilo City the biggest bus lines in Panay Island (perhaps in the whole country) that often preferred by almost every tourist and local passengers because of their reliability, convenience and availability even at night. Buses often leaves every hour (from sun-up to sun-down) to Roxas City and vice versa. Travel time takes about three hours (traffic and road repair works means it may take more than that), cost per person depending on bus line or van for hire but usually it never goes beyond 200 Pesos.

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Again if your coming from Dumangas there is no need for you to go to Iloilo City to have a decent bus ride to Caticlan or Roxas City, just ask the Jeepney driver to drop  you at the town of Zarraga (at the National Highway), and from there a handful of bus lines goes to and from Caticlan or Roxas City. Length of travel  usually last for two hours and fare cost per person is about 170 or a little less.

See the video showing the Highway:   Zarraga Iloilo

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The Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral located in the old Pueblo de Capiz (Capitol area), from here it only takes a tricycle ride from a much better public transportation hub in Roxas City ( Buses normally stops here and it will never venture near the city street- I wish Dumaguete can emulate their willingness to make their city organized to lessen the problem on traffic) located in Pueblo de Panay.

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Remember: Traveling here is pretty easy just follow the few road tips above and you’ll be in Roxas City in no time.

From Manila 

Unfortunately there are no passenger ship that connects this two cities, one must travel on a bus (plying LRT-Buendia to Batangas Port) for at least two hours via SLEX. Almost every bus companies serving this route offers air-conditioned with entertainment on-board of course, and fare cost is somewhere between 150- 200 Pesos.

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2GO Travel’s M/V St. Anthony de Padua sails from Batangas to Roxas City via Romblon, Romblon every Tuesday and Friday at 10 PM. Sea travel usually last to 15 hours and fare cost start at 1,100 Pesos for economy accommodation. Trying it myself last three weeks ago, I think the experience I have on-board was over-all pleasant although the food served to economy passenger wasn’t that good at all. I know first class accommodation was way better, but sorry to say I am no fan of first class accommodation and so does majority of sea-going public.

The cheapest fare around at 950 Pesos (Air-conditioned room) per person is via Super Shuttle RoRo 2 which plies three times a week from Batangas and every Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 3 PM coming from Culasi Port. It is highly recommended if your bringing along with you your SUV, pick-up and/or sedan going to Caticlan or down south Iloilo. They do have cheaper charges on each vehicles as compared to the rival. But honestly I won’t recommend it to any tourist as facilities were not acceptable by decent standard such as toilet facilities, I’m disappointed really about such neglect, it was simple necessities that should have been looked at carefully.  Decent dining table coupled with fresh cook foods (if any) must be accorded to paying passengers, if possible. I’m fed up with on-board canteen whose expertise is to serve instant noodle. I think the management should address this simple passenger necessities to  garner better feedback and perhaps win more patron- just my humble opinion.

Click on the link to see ferry schedule:  Batangas RoRo/Ferry schedule 

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Caticlan Jetty Port in Malay – a transportation hub for RORO vessels coming from Port of Roxas in Mindoro Oriental, Odiongan Port in Tablas Island as well as Port of Batangas-  a  jump off to the island of Boracay Island is another alternative point of entry, although the drawback is that of the punishing land trip that is quite stressful. From here it takes only 2 to 3 hours scenic drive to Roxas City via Capiz-Aklan road network, Van for-hire as well as Ceres Tours have a daily trip here; Fares  between Roxas City to Caticlan  cost around 200 Pesos more or less per head.

Click on the link to see ferry schedule:  Caticlan-Mindoro ferry

 Images along  City of Roxas

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That seemingly arms length away island known as Mantalinga, as viewed on my camera. This miniature like island was known as  perfect diving spot for scuba practitioners and a perfect roundabout for sailboat (dilayag) and kayak during contest.

The old Passenger Terminal Building of Culasi Port

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The statue of St. Michael the Archangel, it can be seen on one of the Rotonda in Pueblo de Panay estate.

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The statue of Sacred Heart of Jesus standing tall on the hills over-looking Roxas City, Sibuyan Sea and Jintotolo Channel. This statue is said to have dwarfed the statue of the Christ the Redeemer in Brazil.

Featured Philippine Ports: ILOILO PORTS


Aerial view of Iloilo Strait, taken on-board a commercial aircraft.

Aerial view of Iloilo Strait, taken on-board a commercial aircraft.

 ILOILO CITY

Widely called “Syudad sang Iloilo”in hiligaynon dialect, these historical city is located in the south coast of Panay Island- in the western visayas region and is the main entry point of the Province of Iloilo.The city lies on a flat alluvial plain, reclaimed mostly from the swampy areas due to urbanization and industrialization in the late 19th century up to this day. Traversing the city are the rivers of Iloilo, Batiano, Jaro and Dungon Creek; iloilo river in particular is an estuary that separates the districts of Molo, Villa Arevalo and the rest of the city proper. On the other hand, Jaro river is fed by its tributary the Aganan, and Tigum passing-by the flood plains of the Jaro, and La Paz districts. The city is 337.6 nautical miles south of the nation’s capital, Manila. (1)

Iloilo RiverIn 17th century, during early Spanish colonial period, the spaniards moved their seat of power to the village of Irong-Irong due to recurrent raids by the Dutch privateers and the moro pirates. With its natural advantage (as compared to their former settlement in Ogtong now named Oton) the Spaniards later built Fort San Pedro to better guard against moro raids, which were the major threats to the settlement. Fondly called “Irong-Irong or Ilong-Ilong”, meaning “nose-like” shape if viewed from above (see the image above for better visualization), the river’s old name was shortened to Iloilo, and later on became the capital of the province in 1673- converted to a city in 1890.

In 1900, during American colonial period, the commonwealth government returned the city’s status into a township again, but because of its continuous commercial activities (during the development of sugar industry in Iloilo and its neighboring island of Negros); and being an important port of call in the Visayas-Mindanao area, iloilo regained its city status on July 16, 1937 through Commonwealth Act 158. (2)

PORT OF ENTRY:  Ports of Iloilo

There are five (5) ports of entry/exit in Iloilo. One is Port of San Pedro, the largest port in Panay Island in terms of land area and the ability to handle thousands of passengers and cargoes annually. Another is La Paz wharf, wherein a new passenger terminal building is being constructed, and soon to operate within a year; Ortiz or Parola wharf, home of the many outrigger boats going to the Island of Guimaras,  is as important as the aforementioned; and the last is the famed Muelle Loney wharf. These mentioned ports serves passenger and cargo vessel that plies within the ports near Iloilo City, some vessel plies far to Bacolod City, others to Cebu, Zamboanga, Cagayan de Oro, and Manila.

The last but certaily not the least is the Port of Dumangas, located in the town of Dumangas- approximately 29 kilometers east of the city, and is considered important part of the Strong Republic Nautical Highway (SRNH).

ILOILO DOMESTIC PORT (formerly the old foreign pier)

Port of Iloilo Passenger Terminal

Port of Iloilo Passenger Terminal

The Iloilo Domestic Port or popularly known as ” Port San Pedro”, serves numerous inter-island passenger and cargo vessel which plies the routes between Manila, Bacolod, Cebu, Zamboanga, and Cagayan de Oro. It’s geographic location is in-between:

10° 49′ 56.7″ N Latitude, and 122° 29′ 35.2″ E Longitude

Port San Pedro is considered one of the safest harbors because of Guimaras Island, that perfectly covers, and protects the harbor from strong winds. Beside the Port of Iloilo is the Fort San Pedro, a historical landmark at the entrance of Iloilo Harbor built in 1616 to resist the invasion of pirates.

Port San Pedro is the port of call for several domestic shipping companies such as 2GO Travel, Cokaliong Shipping Lines, Trans-Asia Shipping Lines, among others. The vernacular name “Fort San Pedro” refers to the old Spanish fort adjacent to the port premises that was destroyed during World War II. (3)

There are weekly RORO/Ferry boat trips to Iloilo City to and from South Harbor in Manila (18 hours sailing time),  Zamboanga City(14 hours sailing time), and Cebu City (12 hours sailing time).

2GO Travel

M/V St. Francis Xavier

2GO Travel

 Cokaliong Shipping Lines

 Trans-Asia Shipping Lines

Note: Click on the link provided for updated schedule and other relevant information.

LAPUZ DISTRICT

Iloilo City's newest ferry terminal

Iloilo City’s newest ferry terminal

Roll-on/Roll-off ferry services are catered here in Iloilo City RORO Terminal in Lapuz, across the famed Muelle Loney a few minutes by public transport. A plan by Philippine Ports Authority (PPA), together with the local government to develop the site that was once used as shipyard at Barangay Progreso,  Lapuz. The said location will soon be transformed into a modern ferry terminal that will cater to fast crafts and passengers plying the Iloilo-Bacolod route and vice versa as well as roll on-roll off vessels.  (4)

There are three shipping companies’ serves here that ferries passenger and cargo to Guimaras Island, Cuyo Island and Puerto Princesa both in Palawan. This are;

Montenegro Shipping Lines

Iloilo to Cuyo-Puerto Princesa, Palawan

Every Wednesday and Saturday at 8:00 AM

Milagrosa Shipping Lines

Iloilo to Cuyo Island-Puerto Princesa, Palawan

Every Monday and Thursday at 7 pm

F.F. Cruz Shipping Corporation

Bgy. Lapuz Norte, La Paz, Iloilo City
(033) 3371046 / 3369329 / 3364195

Name of Vessel: M/V Felipe 

Daily Schedule:

To Jordan Port, San Jose (Brgy. Hoskyn)

Morning Departure – 7:30 and 9:30

Afternoon Departure – 2:00 and 4:00

To RORO Port in Lapuz, Iloilo City

Morning Departure – 8:30 and 10:30

Afternoon Departure – 3:00 and 5:30

copyright: mcgutib

copyright: mcgutib

Archipelago Philippines Ferrries Corporation

Iloilo Departure: Every 8 AM and 2 pm

Bacolod (Banago Port) Departure: 11 AM and 5 PM

Fare (Economy): Php 200

Note: Schedules are subject to change, you may call the numbers provided above for more information.

MUELLE LONEY

It is the original Port in Iloilo City, similar to that of Muelle de la Industria (The old port during Spanish times) located at the bank of Pasig river in Manila. Muelle Loney is opened to international trade on 1855, it served as the trans-shipment docks for muscovado sugar in the late 19th to the first half of the 20th century. The river has undergone expansion and improvement several times for the past years, and this include dredging the river basin, to massive clean-up drive, and lately relocating the berthing of small craft, batels, fishing boat, coast guard patrol boats, and other boats that pestered the river ways away from the Aduana building.

Muelle Loney, located in the west side of Iloilo river was named after the Englishman Nicolas Loney, the “Father of the Sugar Industry”. Muelle Loney opened to foreign trade in 1855 that faved way to sugar boom in this province that once called the “Queen City of the South”. The Nicholas Loney monument was erected in his honor as he was  the “Paladin of Philippine Progress.” (5)

There are three shipping companies that operates high speed monohaul/catamaran vessel here, and each company has passenger terminal in Muelle Loney. Fast crafts from Bacolod City to Iloilo City vice versa takes around 60 minutes minimum, depending on a vessel and the weather.

Shipping Company that operates here are:

Supercat

Weesam Express

Oceanjet

Note: Click on the link provided for updated schedule and other relevant information.

ILOILO TO GUIMARAS WHARF (Banca wharf) 

Iloilo City is the gateway to the captivating island province of Guimaras, just 20-30 minutes away via outrigger motorboat from Parola and Ortiz Wharf.

Jetty ports for Guimaras bound passenger are located at Calle Ortiz, Iloilo City and BAMODA Terminal near Parola (a lighthouse near the opening or mouth of the river). The terminal at Calle Ortiz served Jordan Wharf (Brgy. Rizal)  bound passenger and cargoes. (6)

Banca Trips:

– Daily Trips from 6:00 AM – 8:00 PM (every 15-30 minutes)
– Travel Time = 20 minutes minimum

From BAMODA (Buenavista Motorbanca Owners Association Inc.) just near Parola, Iloilo City to Mc Arthur’s wharf  (built by Gen. Douglas Mc Arthur in 1903 when he was the head of the company of the US Army Corps of Engineers)  located in Sto. Rosario, Buenavista vice versa:

Banca Trips:

– Daily Trips from 5:30 AM – 6:00 PM (every 15-30 minutes)
– Travel Time = 15-20 minutes

DUMANGAS RORO PORT

Dumangas (formerly called the town of Araut) is claimed to be the landing place of the Spaniards in Panay. Dumangas is located at the Southeastern part of Panay and lies at 122 degrees 42′ 34″ longitude, and 10 degrees 39′ 22″ latitude. Barotac Nuevo bounds it in the north, Guimaras Strait is in the southeast boundary of Dumangas, and at the west is the Municipalities of Pototan and Zarraga.  (7)

Dumangas is a coastal town about 29 kilometers away from Iloilo City and is accessible via public transportation such as Jeepney and L-300 vans stationed at Baldoza Terminal in La Paz (daily trips start at around 8 am until 5 in the afternoon).

The coastal road network from Dumangas Port to Iloilo City vice versa, which is still under construction will shortened the land travel in between these two ports.

Dumangas port is located in Sitio Nalu-oyan, in Barangay Sapao some four kilometers away from the town proper. A three-wheeled motorcycle can take you to the port for 25 Php, but beware because the road is unpaved all the way, making it dusty during summer and muddy during rainy season. The Port complex has a total land area of around 7.0 hectares. The construction of this port was made possible thru the development assistance made by the government of Japan at a cost of 60 Million pesos.

Dumangas to Bacolod route at present has four (4) shipping companies that operates RORO vessel, this are:

Millenium Shipping

Montenegro Shipping

Tristar-Megalink Corp.

Jomalia Shipping

Crossing the Iloilo Strait bound for Bredco Port in Bacolod City or vice versa takes approximately 2 hours at a cost of 60 Php per person per trip. For travelers, backpackers, and motorist who wish to leave for Dumangas or Bacolod, the vessel departure/arrival is almost every hour or two depending on passenger and rolling cargo traffic. The trip for both ways starts usually early in the  morning until late evening.

For updated RORO sched, please click on the link provided: 2015 RORO Schedules

Refferences (Please click on the link):

1. Socio-Economic Profile 2004 of Iloilo City, The City Government of Iloilo, 2004

2. Iloilo History

3. Port of Iloilo

4. Lapuz District

5. Muelle Loney Wharf

6. Iloilo to Guimaras

7. Dumangas