Monday, February 28, 2005

Batangas City Pier: A Nightmare!

This place is an inevitable headache that one must endure on the way to Calapan, Puerto Galera or the western Mindoro destinations.

Expect these:
Upon getting off the bus or whatever kind of land transportation you come in, you’ll be accosted by a crowd of hawkers who will pester you with their wares – generally foodstuffs that they themselves advertise as “pasalubong”. How the hell can you be looking for pasalubong when you are just on your way to your vacation? Bad trip! And mind you, they do not just yell at you for their various kakanin but they will thrust those, right to about a few centimeters of your nose or eyes. And they will follow you wherever you go – even into the comfort rooms – literally!

One would think it a relief that the Batangas government or whoever is in charge in that place have fenced off their newly built building that will soon serve as a “grand” port. So, those noisy vendors will drop from your ears when you enter the fenced off area going towards the check-in counters.

THAT, is just the “preface” of a better irritant coming your way!

Since that big building (probably soon to become the departure area) is not yet operational, you go around it to reach the old check-in area. And at the side of this white elephant (as of now anyway!) you have to line up with hundreds of passengers in a make-shift “inspection area” where up to a maximum of three guards purportedly inspect your luggage. AS IF! By observation, you will notice they won’t actually catch if you had a grenade inside your luggage! All they have are sticks that they use to simulate an act that they are rummaging through the insides of your bag. But actually, many times over, they are not even looking!

Of course you cannot blame them guards. Hundreds – even thousands of harried people who just came traveling by land 2 hours from Manila are all eager to pass through this ministerial act of security control! So you actually pass swiftly even if you had to unzip your luggage in front of those guards (a mixture of men and women).

Past that inspection area, you breathe a sigh of relief as you walk around this building on your way to the check-in area! But don’t count on your “sigh-of-relief”. The worst is still to come! As you enter the building that houses the check-in area, and behind it, the waiting lounge and gates, get hold of yourself as you will most certainly never even hear yourself talking!

A mob of “sanggano” looking men will accost you, pull you, push you, all the while shouting out (at the top of their brains) that their boat and not the others is going to White Beach or Sabang or wherever the hell else! To call this phenomenon a din is the worst of understatements. It’s a pandemonium you do not expect on a leisurely trip to Puerto Galera. And don’t you arrive at this place on an empty stomach? God and all the angels bless you! Your patience will truly be tested.

All the signboards of the check-in counters have white cardboards written with all the possible destinations in Puerto Galera. Of course almost all of them are lies. They are just wont to get you on board their boats.

Boats? Be careful! And ask around. Even ask these forever-shouting men if you need to. Example: There are actually only three rides that go to White Beach. That’s the M/B Brian, the M/B Natividad and the Blue Eagle or Blue Phoenix. Just as well, all the other sangganos will shout to the extreme excesses of their lungs that their boat is going to White Beach – and it shows in their check-in counters prominently! The catch actually is, if you rode those other boats, some of them arrive at other piers and you still have to take another boat or a jeep or tricycle to reach white beach. And the prices on those “connecting rides” are not cheap!

Oh so you’re not going to White Beach?! Just the same, these dark muscle-men around you will be shouting that their boats go to your destination (like Sabang, Aninuan or wherever else) – even if they were actually employees of M/B Brian, M/B Natividad or the Blue Eagle and Blue Phoenix that only dock at White Beach!

This “technicality” is actually acceptable considering that all you need at this moment is to cross to the island of Mindoro. The most irritating part is the shouting and the shoving. If you were like me who is a 6 footer and being pushed or shoved around or shouted at, your irritation may want you to pray that God PLEASE allow murder – as indeed you will feel like killing these noisy dark muscle men shouting forever in this place.

And if you have been used to many an airport or seaport around the world, or even just a bus station in Brisbane, being in the Batangas City Pier will make you throw-up until all your innards are on the floor! It is such an unnecessary pressure that eats up a good part of your travel experience. However, Puerto Galera is such a nice place that if you avoid the place because of Batangas City, you end up not being able to see half of paradise!

Okay, now you finally got your tickets or boarding passes and paid that ridiculous “terminal fee” (why pay for an excruciating cacophony of uncivilized noises anyway). So you would think everything is smooth sailing from here on? WRONG!

As you wait it out in the “waiting lounge” (which by the way is comparable in terms of chairs, air-conditioning and amenities to the old Manila Domestic Terminal used by Cebu Pacific, Asian Spirit, Air Philippines), you would think that all you have to hear next is a respectable announcement from the public address system that your boat is being boarded. Way far from it!

Any moment, the lady’s voice in the public address system is overpowered by these same gang men who you would have encountered at the check-in area. They use a megaphone as to do their own announcements (IN THEIR BLOODY BATANGUENO DIALECT). And if you happen to have been sitting near Gate 4B, you would have noticed that these gang men are actually very unprofessionally having a ball of their lives. There is the time they would sound that piercing siren from the megaphone. This I am certain: IF YOU DON’T HEAR THAT PIERCING EMERGENCY SOUND FROM THAT MEGAPHONE IN THE WHOLE OF YOUR STAY AT THE BATANGAS PIER, COME AND KILL ME. I will bet my life on that! When not playing with the megaphone, they will be coaxing and teasing each other like little children running all over the place – in front of hundreds of passengers waiting to be boarded.

So, still irritated you get to be boarded on your boat! BOAT? Or BANCA? There is a difference! The M/B (i.e., M/B Brian or M/B Natividad) is supposed to mean “motor boat” but in this case its motorized banca – meaning an oversized outrigger banca that can load up to some 80 or so passengers. Don’t fear anyway! The bancas are a fun ride (unless the weather is bad). You will even notice that banca as they are, the steering wheels are like that of a car (and usually carry the brand of Honda or Toyota!). Well, if you are not confident you will arrive in shape with a banca, that means you will have to catch the Blue Phoenix or the Blue Eagle and whatever else named blue! This group of boats use midsized motorboats that look like children of the Supercats!

Thus, you arrive in Puerto Galera (wherever there your destination is). But that is paradise and an entirely different story! We’re here just discussing the lousy Batangas City Pier experience! So let us try your way coming back! Another ghastly ordeal!

Okay, after your heavenly escapade at Puerto Galera, you must find your way back to the city where naturally you will have to pass by the Batangas City Pier. What a way to cap the trip eh! Really this is grabe!

From a boat or banca or a RORO ship, you arrive and dock at the Batangas City Pier usually after an uneventful cruise from your paradise that is Puerto Galera. Your boat docks and unloads passengers without any hitch. Then you go out front skirting again this big white elephant that is soon to become the pier’s main departure area. Of course, as you walk along the fenced-off area, those pesky vendors are already shouting yelling their wares at you – even from the other side of the fence made of chicken wire. And they will follow you up to the main exit where they have a grand chance to meet you face-to-face!

Upon emerging from the fenced-off area, these animals will already cling to you like no other parasite can! Wherever you go you will be followed with that irritating invitation for you to buy their “pasalubong”. Try walking around; they will follow you – religiously! Even try going to the comfort rooms again; they will still be there with you! Now try visiting the many stalls lined up where you are supposed to take your bus ride to Manila, immediately the egging and begging of these pestering vendors will grow louder and even more physical – blocking your way and literally shoving their wares on your chest, your shoulders, your arms and every part of you that they can reach – depending on your height! Thank heavens I am a six-footer! They can only reach as far as my chest! They do this without a care even if you are trying to converse or talk to your companions or asking your way around. God forbid, but if I were to be allowed to kill a group of people en masse, they will be first to go! They are just such a nuisance that they ruin my usually jolly disposition trying to savor as much of the countryside as I can.

Okay, they are just trying to do business. But punyeta naman, hasn’t civilization ever yet reached Batangas City so that their vendors act like dogs in a mad scrimmage for a parcel of meat?! Everyone in this pier moves and acts like they were in a godforsaken palengke!

You will have the chance to be at peace with your self ONLY when your bus gets out of the pier area – and that is if the TV on the bus is not blaring those Korean telenovelas! Ha ha ha!

Oh well, this is what we have to deal with for craving to have a taste of paradise called – Puerto Galera. Perhaps, I should work harder to be rich enough to afford an entry by air so I can skip the Batangas City Pandemonium!



  2. how dare you!stupid!

  3. now who is stupid? the one who experienced it the way it was described or the one LIKE YOU who does not want to accept the truth?

    if you are from Batangas City, do something instead of just saying "how dare me". I DARE YOU, go and improve that place (since it even has a beautiful building anyway) and we'll live happily ever after - and we'll all be proud of the place. frankly THAT PIER is what keep me from promoting Puerto Galera to my friends all over the world... doesn't it hurt you? it does me.

    I will be happy to hear from you refuting everything I said here. C'mon educate me and update me. Identify to me (one by one) what is not already true about the Batangas Pier as described above and I will be all too happy to know and correct them here...

    Di lang ikaw ang nagmamahal sa Pilipineas (including Batangas Pier) so don't pass a blind eye on reality.

  4. Oh my gosh, I had the greatest fun reading this post! I laughed almost the whole time because I know EXACTLY what you are talking about!

    As a missionary, I lived in Baco (near Calapan City) for about 3 months, but had to come off the island occasionally for meetings in Lipa. That pier is sheer madness! I remember being afraid that I'd never hear the announcement that my boat was boarding because of the awful racket inside that terminal.

    Good post.

  5. I do sincerely hope someone in that city will put some kind of order in that place (if they have not done so yet).

    A few days ago, some friends cooked up the idea of going to PG as this is a long weekend (starting today) and three of us said "let's go somewhere else" as we are not ready to pass by that madness again :)

    So where am I now? in a nearby netcafe as we'll just go driving to Subic (again) tonight. Sigh :(

  6. FUck you all here,,

  7. Di lang ikaw ang nagmamahal sa Pilipineas (including Batangas Pier) so don't pass a blind eye on reality

    totoo pare mahal mo Pilipinas? tsk tsk!
    d halata dud kasi maski spelling ng Pilipias d mo kayang itama.! T_T

  8. sus etong si last poster naman nagdunungdunungan at inililihis ang usapan. sabagay pinoy nga naman na me pa-"dud" "dud" pa! ang mga katulad nito ang minumura ko ng "P.I. mo" to the nth degree! siguro lahing congressman o senador itong si last poster - di marunong humarap sa inilalahad na katotohanan kaya pupunta nalang sa pagtingin ng spelling na di nya rin naman kinagalingan. sarap katayin!

    Anyway, i got encouraged to say something here since as I was reading the article, I was also watching Imbestigador on Ch 7 (di pa nga tapos as of now e). At parang bumabaliktad sikmura ko sa mga revelations ni Mike Enriquez tungkol sa panocha (or is that panucha, panutsa, panot-sya whatever)! Yun ang ipinagduduldulan nung mga nuisance vendors sa ilong nyo di ba?

    So Batangas City, ayos ka ba talaga?

    Kawawang PG at sayang talaga since its a beautiful getaway. But, until I hear this Batangas nightmare resolved, never will I encourage friends and family to go by way of THE UGLY BATANGAS CITY PIER.

    Paano ba ito ipa-aabot sa Mayor o kaya Barangay Captain man lang na nakasasakop sa pier na yan? I am hoping they'll have more mature brains (than the last poster above) to listen and realize this ugly reality - and hopefully gawan nila ng nararapat na lingap nang hindi naman tayo matawag na "barbaric" because we are not.

    I love PG and I too love Batangas (ok, not the city, not yet at least)!

  9. I do agree about this blog...

    "The ugly city pier", really is a nightmare. They implemented law but their people are not working with it.
    "They confiscated knife, lighter and some other hazardous things detected by the X-RAY but "ALL THE HEAVY AND BIG THINGS CARRIED BY THE PORTERS ARE NOT PASSING THE X-RAY MACHINE"
    "The annoying issue is: even the boat officials said, it's ok for us to bring the kitchen knife in the boat, yet this one "security or controller" guy don't wanna give it.
    "Instead this guy give us a piece of small unorganized paper to fill out, and this will keep as a claim stub for the item that they took.

    If you really want a god security service in the pier, you should checked everything that "GOES IN" the pier.

  10. Hmmm.. I'll take the plane rather than the boat then.

  11. @CDOkay, unfortunately that would be a charter flight hehe!

    Actually, if I may bluntly compare CDO and Batangas City piers... sa building size and design isama na ang surroundings like parking area etc., at a rating of 1(low) and 10(high), nasa 9 ang batangas at nasa 3 lang ang CDO. Pero naman, ang mga asal/asta ng tao (which is important), at the same rating of 1 to 10, nasa +11 and CDO at nasa -31 ang Batangas!!! Stressing hehe!

    Mind you, this was written in 2005 and it seems nothing has changed for someone should have already refuted everything said in the story. And I want that to happen so I can erase this story. I don't like keeping bad stories in my blogs!