Transit: RORO to Marinduque

JAC Liner Rolling-in at Montenegro Ferry

JAC Liner Rolling-in at Montenegro Ferry

The Philippines has a longer coastline even that of the USA and its geography is composed of many separate islands. To visit other islands, sea travel is one of the most common and cheap way to travel. The Strong Republic Nautical Highway (SRNH) or commonly known as the RORO (Roll-on, Roll-off) Highway was opened by the government. It’s a transportation structure spanning 919 kilometers of land and 137 nautical miles connecting the islands through a virtual highway via RORO-capable sea vessels. Even though air travel is getting affordable nowadays, land-and-sea travel is still popular amongst common people and to destinations with very little air traffic. In my recent visit to Marinduque with friends Oggie and Allan, we took the RORO Highway and here’s my first hand experience on going this route.

Montenegro Ferry waiting for cargo

Montenegro Ferry waiting for cargo

The first time I went to Marinduque there was no RORO yet so I was looking forward to this trip to try it. JAC Liner has buses that has direct routes from Manila to Boac. The fare was 692 PHP with a 25 PHP terminal fee which you’ll also pay to the conductor. It is more convenient so you don’t have to pay individually. One disadvantage from this route is they don’t accept reservations. We were at the LRT terminal as early as 5:30 pm since we were told that there were only 10 slots for the bus coming from Cubao. We had to make sure we’re early to get these seats. A few days before we already called them up to inquire on the departure schedules but it differs from 7 or 8pm depending on who answered. A bit inconvenient really.

There was a list for reservation on seats that night on which we wrote down our name. With Oggie chatting with a passenger, we learned that the list was useless since people would hurry in to get seats. A bit annoying. Good thing the bus wasn’t that filled coming from Cubao when it came around 8:30pm. We thought we left LRT station by 9 only to return at the terminal to get some passengers. Rolling off roughly 9:30pm. That was a long wait.

Other goods and cargo being borded in the ferry

Other goods and cargo being borded in the ferry

Travel time from Buendia LRT station to Dalahican Port was around 3 hours. The Montenegro Ferry was waiting already when we got there by 1:30am. We were hoping to lodge in and get some sleep on the air conditioned section while on the ferry but the aircon was down. We instead rested on some fixed mono bloc-type benches. It’s a good idea we brought our malong since wind was chilly while the boat was on the move. I got a good hour sleep when we heard the ferry signal that we’re approaching Cawit Port which is found on the mid Western Part of Marinduque. it was a little past 5am when our bus rolled-off the ferry.

Going back was another story. Since we can’t reserve for the JAC liner bus going back to Manila, we again have to wait for the passing bus in Gasan coming from its origin point in Sta Cruz, Marinduque. Good thing the reliable staff at Club Mariduque flagged the bus for us while we wait at their resort. That was about 4:45 in the afternoon. The bus stopped a bit in Gasan Market then headed to Boac for a time to pick up passengers. Then by 7pm we were again in Cawit Port waiting for the Ferry. It was actually a long wait. We had no idea when the bus would be moving so we asked the driver and told us that the ferry might arrive around 8pm. We decided to go down the bus have dinner nearby and wait for the ferry to come.

Welcome aboard Montenegro Ferry

Welcome aboard Montenegro Ferry

Good thing it arrived roughly at 8pm and moved half an hour later. When it got to Dalahican port, we were wondering why the bus didn’t move. At first the conductor asked some people to go down the bus like the way we went down the bus when it rolled in the ferry. After which some people came back in and we were again waiting. almost an hour passed and I was really getting impatient. We went down and approached the conductor why we were not moving. It turns out the water was too high for the bus to roll-off. They said they will move to another higher port nearby. I was just wondering what they were doing in all that time passing. Wait for the water level go down? They should have moved the ferry to another port earlier, obviously the water wouldn’t go down until near sunrise. A few minutes later they moved finally and we were on the road again.

We arrived in Buendia Makati around 4:30am already. We really were dead tired. I never thought RORO would be so exhausting as this. The travel time from Manila to Dalahican is only 3 hours and the Ferry from Dalahican to Cawit Port was only 3 hours making the total travel time be 6 hours. But our travel extended to almost half a day with 4-5 hours of it is done waiting. Waiting for the bus and the ferry. Since we can’t reserve seats we really had to wait early. Marinduque is such a beautiful place but it can be tiring going by the RORO Route. It’s a good thing I have a book, music and some friends along to keep me company.

23 Responses to “Transit: RORO to Marinduque”

  1. naku, sinabi mo pa wulfriend. i can’t grasp the idea of a trip that’s longer on waiting than on the actual hours on the road and the sea. but it’s great to travel again with good friends kahit na bitin ang weekend. next time :D bawi tayo.

    Reply
  2. Ferdz parang papunta din sa amin yong dating ng mga pics mo don sa entrance ng ferry… ganon yong situation na makikita mo pag papuntang Samar.

    Buti nga lang mura ng ngayon ang papuntang Samar na air fare, halos kalahati ang nabawas don sa dating fare sa unang Airlines na bumibiyahe ng Manila – Catarman.

    Reply
  3. sarap talaga bumyahe lalo na sa dagat. inaabangan ko to kasi hindi ko pa to napuntahan. para ba itong mga sinakay mo sa basilan ferdz?

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  4. That can be a hassle too, if the the transportation is unreliable. I’m sure what the trans lacked the tour of Marinduque more than made up for it.

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  5. Hi Ferdz, I am glad you made it to Marinduque. I hate the RoRO because of the waiting, also. I am glad we were able to book Zestair for our trip next week. Keep in touch, David

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  6. Thanks for the info – At least I know now about RORO :) That trip would have been dead lonely if you travelled by yourself ! I heard you can travel by bus to Boracay from Manila nowadays so it must be with the RORO system :shock:

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  7. Ei Oggie, medyo bitin nga pero still we enjoyed and managed to get to take home some great captures.

    Ei Den, cguro we’ll try to visit your place via Catarman next year. Medyo kapagod ang RORO.

    I also like being on board Ferries Kyels, especially on daytimes when you would see a lot of sights.

    Ei Erick! Belated hppay birthday. Hehe. Part of what you missed. Sayang makakahabol ka pa pala that night.

    Medyo parang ganto yung sinakyan naman papuntang Basilan Dom. Watch out for the rest of our entries.

    Good thing we enjoyed Marinduque sans the long waits Photo Cache.

    Hey David! We passed by your resort and will email you soon. I don’t mind the long travel but I don’t like to wait really that long nowadays.

    Yep BW. Boracay can be reached from Manila via RORO. Am not sure on the bus liner though. They may have a different system from JAC Liner.

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  8. I guess you had bad luck… I did the same journey a few years ago to watch the Moriones and the travel was a breeze…but I am not sure it was the same bus company.

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  9. Just by reading this, the waiting time and all that could wear down my patience, definitely RoRo is a no-no for me.

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  10. Onga Allan! Pero enjoy naman sa Marinduque.

    Sidney, it’s probably because it was the peak season when you went there. I guess they have to fill up passengers this time around. It would be great if they have reservations.

    Yep JP. Was with Oggie and Allan on this one.

    Thanks Kelger! I’m sure you’ll enjoy the island. There’s more to it than the Moriones.

    Hi Ellen. I wouldn’t discount RORO easily on this. Probably depends on the destination and bus liner as well.

    Reply
  11. Kailangan talaga ma-improve ang transport system sa pinas. In progressive countries, the bus leaves on the dot may sakay o wala.

    Reply
  12. edikenkoy

    what?!
    walang reservation…

    eh balak pa naman naming mag pinsan testingin yung RORO…
    para walang hassle..
    kaso dito sa kwentong toh eh mukhang mabo na….
    abang na lang kami ng bus sa alabang…
    hehe…
    tnx for the info kuya…

    Reply
  13. Thanks for describing your RoRo experience. My family and the families of 3 siblings will be going to Marinduque for this year’s Holy Week Moriones festival. We’ve all read about the Moriones in our textbooks and my family saw some Morions in Mindoro when we passed through two years ago. What we saw there told us the real thing in Marinduque would be worth all the trouble of going.

    We’ve done the Roro Route from Bacolod to Manila and back several times. The waiting is bad during the off season, when the boats wait for passengers and vehicles to fill a certain quota. During our last Roro Trip (August), some pre-dawn trips were cancelled so we had lots of waiting to do. We’ll be bringing our vans and travelling with a lot of small kids so I hope we don’t have an experience as trying as the one that you reported. Your port pictures on the page are very nice.

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  14. brent ivan

    ang ganda talaga sa marinduque….
    taga torrijos poh ako…

    sarap bumyahe kasama ang jac liner at montenegro…

    Reply
  15. hi, can we bring our own car? where can we get the schedule of the ferry? thanks :)

    Reply
  16. You can’t have a blog and not be particular about grammar. Kindly review your writing before posting anything.

    Ps. and when you do write, make sure to include specific and substantial information. Enroute is as vague as most travel blogs out there.

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comment. I was re-reading this again and noticed there are a lot of grammar lapses here but I wrote this way back. But do understand that blogs before are personal and there are no proof readers and quality control unlike these days.

      As for substantial information, what specifics are you looking for. This is not a “How To Guide” but a travelogue.

      Reply

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