Never to Ride the Galerian Lines to Puerto Galera Again!

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:

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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!

Thank you!


Updated #1:

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.
 
Kind regards.
 
Sincerely
 
Alberto A. Lim
Department of Tourism

Thank you very much, Sec. Lim! More power sir.


Update #2:

The local media picked-up my blog entry, and my name was mentioned in the 27 May 2011 edition of the Manila Bulletin:

DoT, Marina push stricter ferry standards in Puerto Galera trips

 

MB News Clip 27 MAY 2011


Update #3:

The MARINA (Maritime Industry Authority) sent this to me via email:

Republic of the Philippines

Department of Transportation and Communications

MARITIME INDUSTRY AUTHORITY

REGION IV

Block E, 2F Units 15-21, Caedo Commercial Center

Calicanto, Batangas City

Tel. Nos. 723-1365 / 723-2327

MARITIME INDUSTRY AUTHORITY,

REGION IV,

Complainant,

 

– versus -                                      BMRO CN 011-015C

CRESENTE DE LARA / GALERIAN LINES

Respondent

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.

SO ORDERED.

25 May 2011

BY AUTHORITY OF THE ADMINISTRATOR:

ROBERTO C. ARCEO, CESO V

Regional Director

/JMM

Copy furnished:

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

File

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12 comments
  1. According to the Revised Rules and Regulations of Republic Act No. 9295, or the Domestic Shipping Development Act of 2004, domestic ship owners and operators are required to undertake a ship modernization program where wooden vessels will no longer be allowed to operate after five years.

    It is now 2 years since 12 people drowned in the capsizing of Commando 6, a boat operated by Iligan Shipping Lines (now Galeran Lines).

    A statement by the United Filipino Seafarers released in August 2009 slammed the Marina for still allowing “the registration and continued operation of newly built wooden vessels, particularly motorized bancas.”

    So it seems nothing has changed, and probably never will as long as the local mafia control the shipping between Batangas and Puerto Galera to the detriment of all.

  2. Ive also been to Puerto Galera 3 years ago, but I forgot what transport company I was in. And yeah their concern is about quantity and let safety and punctuality comes behind. Ive also wondered with many pax aboard, do they have enough lifevest for all. Hmm…

  3. may reklamo na pala sa Galerian eh bat super delay pa din sila? we went to galera last thursday and because sila lang may direct route sa talipanan beach, we opted na dun sumakay. yung 715am nila na time, inabot kami ng 830am and we were still waiting for more passengers… dapat mismong Marina ang nagpapaalis ng mga nakadock na banka sa pier, para kaming nakasakay sa jeep na nde aalis hanggat nde puno yung boat.

    never again for Galerian lines!

  4. I am so disappointed with this galerian lines. It happens na pwede ko irefund ang fare ko according to port manager nila at ng tags issue ng ticket. Pagdating ko sa ticketing booth nila walang Tao at bumalik na LNG daw ako sa Araw na binanggit ng port manager nila na si mr. Nestor pagbalik ko dun boom wala na namang tao. It was so disappointed kc sayang ang araw at time ko Lalo na kc nagbabakasyon LNG ako d2 sa pinas. Sana magpenalty ang galerian Lalo na first time ko magpunta ng puerto at Ito agad Naranasan ko. So sad experience Baka do nako bumalik sa puerto galera

  5. I am coming to P/G in Feb, and I have been advised to take Galerian Lines as they drop you off a talipanan beach… what should I do seeing everybody here hates Galerian Lines

  6. Hi Richard! There are other operators at the Batangas Port, I suggest that you take them or risk of experiencing the same incident I got if you will ride the Galerian Lines.

  7. I got a metrodeal promo for puerto galera and i’ll be there by feb.2012. I was advise to take galerian or minolo shipping lines. I’ll be arriving in manila by feb. 7, 4pm and i need to reach the pick-up point at aninuan beach by 9pm. Would i reach the pick-up schedule on time? Please do advise me regarding this matter.

  8. Just took the galerian lines going back (SUnday Afternoon) from Galera to Batangas Port since we have no choice. The boat was overloaded!!! Worse, the life vest was insufficient. It took us almost two hours to get back! Who is looking into this??? I took a photo of it. Will email this to the authorities.

    Better stay another day rather than risk your life on this boat!!

  9. I’m so sorry to hear all your complains, I am living in Puerto Galera for more than a decade, and i will tell you the truth not only the Galerian Lines is doing the same thing most of the ferry boat here are all the same, nakakalungkot pero yun ang totoo, marami ng nag file ng compalints but i dont know kung ano nangyari, it was really not a good image for us specially that may business kami dito and honestly sa tourist lang kami umaasa ng magandang kita. Galerian lines also known before as Commando Shipping lines if anyone can remember, nagpalit sila ng name kc before may lumubog silang isang banca because of overloading that kills 12 persons mostly kids :(. And i hope na sa itong complain na ito Mr. Reyes eh talagang may maging action na sa dami ng nag reklamo pero wala kami nakikitang pagbabago. Thank You.

  10. Tragedy in the merry month of May

    By Eliza Victoria
    Philippine Daily Inquirer
    First Posted 00:48:00 05/29/2010

    Filed Under: Maritime Accidents, Family, Tourism, Waterway & Maritime Transport

    MANILA, Philippines?On May 23, 2009, Ramon Eugenio and his family climbed aboard the MB Commando 6, an outrigger boat that was to take them to Tamaraw Beach in Puerto Galera, Mindoro. It was the first family outing for the Eugenios, and all 13 members were looking forward to a summer getaway.

    Two days later, Ramon was sitting at the wake of his mother, his son and a nephew.

    The boat left the Batangas Port at 11:15 a.m. on May 23, 2009, but it would never reach Mindoro. At 12:30 p.m., roughly 20 minutes from their destination, strong currents caused the boat to tilt on its right side. Passengers on the left side of the boat?including Ramon, his mother, Daisy, his wife, Monica, his 3-year-old son, Franco, and his 2-year-old nephew Anton?slid into the water and then the boat capsized. The passengers had not been required to wear life vests before leaving port.

    There were 12 fatalities in the tragedy, including Daisy, Franco and Anton.

    The day after the tragedy, the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) temporarily suspended the licenses of Commando 6?s captain and diesel mechanic. It also suspended the license of its owner, Ilagan Shipping Lines Water Transport Co.

    Operating under new name

    According to Marina?s Batangas Office, Ilagan Shipping Lines is no longer operating. However, Ramon Eugenio alleged in a phone interview on Tuesday that it is still operating, but now under a new name?New Gallerian Shipping Lines.

    No such company was listed under the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). A check with Marina?s Batangas Office, however, revealed there is a company called Gallerian Shipping Lines. At press time, the Inquirer?s request for more information was still pending at Marina?s Batangas Office.

    Why it capsized

    On Oct. 28, 2009, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) reiterated the findings and conclusions of the Board of Marine Inquiry (BMI), saying that the ?proximate and immediate? causes of the capsizing of Commando 6 were:

    1) Lack of skill on the part of the boat captain, or ignorance in boat handling and seamanship.

    2) Lack of competence of the chief engineer and other crew members.

    3) Loss of buoyancy that led to the boat?s poor stability.

    A recent check with the PCG revealed that its October 2009 decision was the last statement the agency released in connection with the Commando 6 tragedy.

    Ramon Eugenio said nothing had been resolved even after five marathon hearings conducted by the Senate blue ribbon committee under Sen. Richard Gordon.

    No action

    ?Kapag hindi sinisindak, hindi kumikilos (If there is no fear, there is no action),? he said, referring to the agencies Marina, BMI and the PCG. ?Frankly, I don?t think they really care. If the President?s daughter was on the boat, heads would have rolled by now.?

    A year after the tragedy, Ramon was still in shock. ?We?re still trying to make sense of what happened to us. It?s not sickness, it?s something completely unexpected. It involved two young kids,? he said.

    ?I always tell my friends that my son had so much promise. He solved the Rubik?s Cube when he was 2 1/2 years old. I couldn?t help but think that perhaps his reason for being here is to solve this problem. He died so young. He would have grown up to be a fine young man. What a pity. Justice is still a long way off,? he said in a mixture of English and Filipino.

    Apprehension

    Ramon?s wife, Monica, had recounted in a 2009 interview that she had apprehensions about the boat even before they left the port. ?Before we boarded, I asked the barker [if] the waters were choppy. He said it was [calm] and that the boat can carry 130 people. When I saw the boat, I didn?t think it could carry that many.?

    She had said that she counted 45 people on the vessel?s right side alone.

    Coast Guard officials said the 12-ton, 21-meter boat could carry only 42 passengers and six crew members.

    According to the Coast Guard, a total of 60 people were onboard.

    They took pictures

    Ramon had also recounted in 2009 news reports that as the Commando 6 was sinking, two boats passed by but did not even stop to help them. Instead, the passengers took pictures and videos of the sinking vessel.

    The rescue boats arrived 40 minutes after Commando 6 capsized. Worse, the boatmen attended to the passengers? possessions first, Ramon had alleged. ?They were getting the bags first … We said, ?Are the bags more important than people???

    All in all, 43 passengers were rescued. The boat?s crew members, including the captain, survived and reportedly went into hiding upon arrival at Puerto Galera.

    On May 25, 2009, while Daisy, Franco and Anton were lying in state, Commando 6?s four crew members?Ruel Bunquin (clearing officer), Renante Roma (chief engineer), Danilo Aranzado (crew) and Jonie Evangelista (crew)?submitted a sworn statement before the Batangas Coast Guard saying their vessel was at ?full capacity? when it left the port, and that they, along with boat captain Meliton Anilao, immediately tried to save their passengers when the boat overturned. (?Kami, kasama ang aming kapitan na si Meliton Anilao, ay kaagad na sinagip ang aming mga pasahero (We, namely, boat captain Meliton Anilao and the crew, immediately saved the passengers).?

    Overloading

    This was contradicted by survivor Janice Mahinay who said that when the boat tilted on its side, Anilao shouted ?Lulubog na (The boat is about to sink),? but failed to give instructions or assistance to the passengers.

    The Batangas Coast Guard?s initial investigation also revealed that Anilao waited several minutes before Commando 6 left the port so he could load more passengers since there were only eight people on board.

    On the other hand, Commando 7, which was supposed to leave the port an hour later, was asked to transfer all its 42 passengers to Commando 6.

    Chance passengers also boarded the already overcrowded vessel.

    Life is cheap

    Abdulla Perez, mother of Joena Perez, a 29-year-old telecommunications employee who died in the tragedy, had said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Online in 2009 that they received P22,000 from Ilagan Shipping Lines which paid for Joena?s burial expenses. Abdulla said the amount wasn?t enough to buy Joena a decent coffin.

    The Inquirer asked Ramon Eugenio on Tuesday if he had received any form of assistance from Ilagan Shipping Lines.

    Said Ramon: ?No.?

    He recalled reading about the P22,000 the Perezes received from the Ilagan Shipping Lines and made this comment: ?Ganon lang ba kamura ang buhay (Is life that cheap)??

    He also described the system as ?demeaning.?

    ?You have to beg just to get financial assistance?that should be the last thing a person who has lost a loved one should worry about,? he said.

    Ban wooden vessels

    Ramon said he supports the banning of wooden vessels. ?It?s actually in the law.?

    According to the Revised Rules and Regulations of Republic Act No. 9295, or the Domestic Shipping Development Act of 2004, domestic ship owners and operators are required to undertake a ship modernization program where wooden vessels will no longer be allowed to operate after five years.

    A statement by the United Filipino Seafarers released in August 2009 slammed the Marina for still allowing ?the registration and continued operation of newly built wooden vessels, particularly motorized bancas.?

    Ramon said they?re hoping to find a politician who could sponsor their cause, so their voices could be heard in government.

    ?We won?t be riding on boats for a long time, so it?s not for us,? he said. ?We don?t want this [tragedy] to happen again. It?s very painful.?

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