I got so pissed and mad at myself for taking the Galerian Lines from the Port of Batangas City to Puerto Galera (to include our return trip) over the weekend, that I sent a letter to the DOTC, DOT, and respective Governors of Batangas & Oriental Mindoro provinces:
To whom it may concern:
Let me just share with you our experience during the last weekend’s family getaway to Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro. Having more than enough spare time to take a break from the busy metropolis, my wife and I decided to forgo a trip to Hongkong, and instead explore Puerto Galera, Oriental Mindoro (with the intention of promoting local tourism, as well in my blog site). We decided to leave the family car at home, and took the public transportation from Metro Manila all the way to Puerto Galera.
So we took the bus from Pasay City at around 0700H last Saturday, 14 May 2011. We reached the Port of Batangas City at around 0915H. We were a party of 03 adults (my wife, I, & the nanny) and a child (my 3-year old son). Being first time visitors to the port, we weighted the options on which of the ferries going to Puerto Galera shall we take: based on the time and fare prices. Most of the ferries leaving the pier by 0930H were already fully booked, thus we opted to take Galerian Lines’ 1000H schedule, as they offered PHP450 per head round trip — reasonable enough, we thought. So, after paying all of the fees at the port, we hurriedly went inside the terminal building some 5 minutes before 1000H. So we made it inside the ferry (banca) just in time for the 1000H schedule. Some 15 minutes later, we were still at the port with no signs of the ferry leaving any time soon. The ferry is almost full to the brim, as we were seated at the back already (please refer to the attached picture). I asked one of the passengers near me if they, too have the 1000H ticket. Low and behold, to our surprise, they hold a 0900H ticket! They, too had complained of waiting for more than 60 minutes already.
A couple of minutes later, and we were still at the pier. Seated behind us, at the far most side of the ferry (near the helm; smoking area) were a couple of noisy foreigners. It is evident that they were drunk already, as they were holding San Miguel Beer in can while talking (in a shouting matter) at each other. One even shouted to a Filipino passenger when the Pinoy accidentally stepped on the foreigner, as the Caucasian is lying on his back at the seat, which is supposed to accommodate 4-5 passengers.
To the DOTC Secretary: Are passengers of these motorized banca’s allowed to have a drinking spree on board? Being an aviation professional and a first time seacraft passenger, I was waiting for a Marina officer to check the boat onboard before we set sail. But this didn’t happened.
Finally, at around 1045H, the anchor of the Galerian Lines boat was retrieved and we started sailing to Oriental Mindoro. That’s 45 minutes of waiting time for us, as we have the 1000H tickets; and that’s 105 minutes of waiting time (wasted) for those passengers having the 0900H tickets boarded on the same seacraft we had. Imagine the anguish of being inside a boat, docked at the pier waiting for the seacraft to push back (if that’s the proper term) 45 minutes later than the scheduled time of departure, and seeing other seacrafts dock and leave the pier ahead of you! So, I just thought, this is just an operational thing and not the usual.
But I was wrong. Yesterday, a Sunday, after staying at Puerto Galera for 27 hours, we were booked for the 1530H Galerian Lines trip back to the Port of Batangas City. I asked my family to did a double-time in packing up our things and left the hotel room less than an hour before our scheduled checkout time, thinking that the boat will set sail by 1530H — as scheduled. We were at the boarding area of the beachfront by 1500H and was told by the Galerian Lines personnel to just wait for them to call for boarding. I asked what time will they be calling for boarding, and I was simply told to WAIT. Don’t these guys have a sense of time, nor respect for others time? So we stayed in a nearby restaurant waiting for the boarding time. I checked the names of the seacrafts parked, and none of them is from Galerian Lines. When most of the seacrafts docked left already, then came the one from Galerian Lines — it was around 1550H. There came 02 seacrafts from Galerian Lines, and we were asked to board the first to arrive at the beachfront. Passenger boarding was complete some 15 minutes later, then we noticed that the 2nd Galerian Lines boat was being filled up with passengers. A couple of minutes later, it seems that the 2nd boat (the other boat) is ready to set sail. I told myself, hey! Isn’t it that we’re supposed to be the one to set sail first? In the first place, our scheduled departure time was 1530H and it’s past 1600H already! When most of the passengers in our seacraft were wailing for us to set sail already, that’s the only time the "captain of the ship" decided to push back — that’s around 1635H already!
DOT Secretary Albert Lim: You see, there are a lot of private citizens like me and my wife, who are more than willing to promote the different tourist destinations in our country. But with people, companies — passenger shipping lines — like the Galerian Lines, it is rather hard as they do not have respect of other people’s time. People are willing to pay a little much extra, if they will get what they had paid for. Having experienced (wasted) a waiting time of more than 120 minutes is unacceptable. It is such a disgrace to both local and foreign tourist to have service providers like the Galerian Lines.
Dear all, appreciate to hear your responses the soonest possible time. By the way, this email has a read receipt tracking enabled. Republic Act 9485, also known as the "Anti-Red Tape Act of 2007" states that: Action of Offices – (1) All applications and/or requests submitted shall be acted upon by the assigned officer or employee during the period stated in the Citizen’s Charter which shall not be longer than five working days in the case of simple transactions and ten (10) working days in the case of complex transactions from the date the request or application was received. Depending on the nature of the frontline services requested or the mandate of the office or agency under unusual circumstances, the maximum time prescribed above may be extended. For the extension due to nature of frontline services or the mandate of the office or agency concerned the period for the delivery of frontline services shall be indicated in the Citizen’s Charter. The office or agency concerned shall notify the requesting party in writing of the reason for the extension and the final date of release for the extension and the final date of release of the frontline service/s requested.
I will be posting my message above in my blog site later today. The question now is: shall we go back to Puerto Galera soon? The answer is, DEFINITELY YES! But we will dread taking Galerian Lines, again!
DOT Secretary Alberto A. Lim is truly an action man! He responded to my email hours after I sent it. Here goes:
Dear Mr. Reyes
Thank you for your letter describing your exasperating experience with Galerian Lines. As you correctly noted, this is a Marina/DOTC issue. By way of copying him, I am endorsing your letter to Sec. de Jesus.
Passenger transport between Batangas City port and Puerto Galera is a DOT concern for other reasons. One is passenger safety. We are working with Marina to impose stricter standards on all seacrafts crossing the channel. Larger seacraft are generally safer. They are also more professionally run. Another concern is beach docking in Puerto Galera that disturbs the guests. We are working with Marina and the PG mayor to designate one port of disembarkation/embarkation in PG so that the beaches are not crowded with bancas.
Alberto A. Lim
Department of Tourism
Thank you very much, Sec. Lim! More power sir.
The local media picked-up my blog entry, and my name was mentioned in the 27 May 2011 edition of the Manila Bulletin:
The MARINA (Maritime Industry Authority) sent this to me via email:
Republic of the Philippines
Department of Transportation and Communications
MARITIME INDUSTRY AUTHORITY
Block E, 2F Units 15-21, Caedo Commercial Center
Calicanto, Batangas City
Tel. Nos. 723-1365 / 723-2327
MARITIME INDUSTRY AUTHORITY,
– versus - BMRO CN 011-015C
CRESENTE DE LARA / GALERIAN LINES
X——————————————— – — – – ——-X
O R D E R
Acting on the attached letter-complaint received thru e-mail from the Office of the Administrator dated 16 May 2011, CRESENTE DE LARA of GALERIAN LINES is hereby directed to submit his Answers/Comments in writing within ten (10) days from receipt hereof and SHOW CAUSE why no punitive action and/or administrative penalty/ies shall be taken against him for his alleged failure to observe the authorized Schedule of Trips / Sailing Frequency on 14 May 2011 (Batangas to White Beach Puerto Galera) and 15 May 2011 (White Beach-Batangas ) stipulated in his Certificate of Public Convenience.
As narrated by the complainant, respondent’s vessel had incurred several delays before it totally departed from its ports of origin.
Such act is in violation of the terms and conditions stipulated in the issued Certificate of Public convenience, RA 9295 and its IRR as well as other relevant MARINA Memorandum Circulars .
Respondent is entitled to a formal hearing unless he opts to waive such right and voluntary pays the corresponding penalty as prescribed under the law.
Let the hearing of the above-entitled case be set on 15 June 2011 at 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon at the Maritime Industry Authority, Region IV, Block E, 2F Units 15-21, Caedo Commercial Center, Calicanto, Batangas City.
Postponement of hearing shall not be allowed except in meritorious cases and provided that the movant files a written motion/request at least three (3) days before the scheduled hearing with proof of service to the parties concerned.
Should respondent fails to file an Answer/Comment within the prescribed period and/or attend the scheduled hearing without valid and justifiable ground, the same shall be construed as a waiver of his rights to controvert the charge/s filed against him and the case shall be deemed submitted for decision based on the evidence on record.
25 May 2011
BY AUTHORITY OF THE ADMINISTRATOR:
ROBERTO C. ARCEO, CESO V
Complainant: Block E, 2F Units 15-21, Caedo Commercial Center, Calicanto, Batangas City
Respondent: c/o Emelda Balmes, Dalaruan, Puerto Galera, Or. Mindoro
Private Complainant – Mr. Roberto DC Reyes – [email protected]
Office of the Administrator
5thCGD –Batangas City