From the church, I walked the short road that leads to the jetty port. This street actually runs along the side of the church. Interesting! It is lined with a lot of little stores that sell “pasalubong”, foodstuffs and many other things - including those that have videoke machines. This also seem to be the favourite eating place of drivers and high school students from the school nearby.
The only taxi service in town (not metered) has some kind of a hub here owing to the presence of the little port. The jetty is a busy crossing point to Liloan (pronounced Lee-Lo-Un) in the island of Cebu. Oops, two things to note here: 1) Liloan is a barangay of the town of Santander (southernmost town of the island province of Cebu). It is not to be confused with the town of Liloan over at the northeastern portion of the same island and of course. Take note too not to confuse this with the town of Liloan in Southern Leyte which also has a ferry port (going to Surigao), and; 2) this jetty is not where the cars and buses cross from Negros to Cebu. This port is purely for passenger boats as of now and it’s rather small. The terminal building is just about the size of any ferry station along the Pasig River. And yes, it is quite fairly new and clean.
There are a lot of trips crossing the channel each day and you have a choice of riding the fast crafts or the pump boats. Fare is just P62 on the fast craft (inclusive of P10 terminal fee) and P45 (inclusive of the terminal fee) on the outrigger or pump boats. But especially on not-so-good weather, I would suggest taking the fast crafts. They cross from Sibulan starting at 5AM and every hour thereafter until 8PM while from Liloan it starts at 430AM and every hour thereafter until 730PM. This is managed by the Cuadro Alas Navigation Lines, Inc.
The process here is: you approach the counters, there are two. The one nearest the door is for pump boats while beside it is for the fast craft. You write your name, age, sex and address on a brown sheet of paper that is to become the craft’s passenger manifest. Then you pay your ticket AND terminal fee in the same counter – notice that the terminal fee receipt will already be stapled to your ticket when you receive it from the check-in clerk. Next you wait it out inside the many seats of the waiting lounge (with television) after passing through a guard. It’s such a cute place no bigger than the area from your sala to the dining room hehe!
I was surprised why people had to scrimmage and be ahead of the line when boarding time was called. I just thought, Filipinos are always like that even at airports and everywhere else there is a queue – even at communion hehe! But I realized later that there was reason for everyone to do so! More about that later.
The walk from the terminal building (after boarding pass is torn by the sentinel) is a leisurely one with the warm breeze of sea wind blowing. And it’s a covered walk about 50 meters or so to the boat. I liked looking at the beaches on both sides of this port. They seem idyllic and probably a fine enough place to rest and relax. The view across to the island of Cebu is equally scenic.
If you cross on a sunny day like I did, the 30-minute or so ride will be exhilarating enough with a lot of panoramic views, you must naturally grab your cameras! There are the majestic hills on both Negros and Cebu towering over the green calm waters. There are the fishermen in their little boats in the middle of the strait as your ferry pass by. I was amused why them fisherfolk have to paddle to let their boats face the fast craft when we passed nearby. And all of them did so. I thought they were like doing a customary salute or something hehe. Even thought that they probably wanted to face the passengers for photo-op hehehe! But I later learned from one of the boat’s crews that those fishermen have to do so in order for their boats to directly face the big waves that is the wake of a fast craft. If they did not do so and the waves caught their little boats on the side, they’d probably topple over and capsize. So THAT IS the real reason, and am happy to have learned that!
This crossing is so quick you’ll be wanting for more if you were shooting the panoramic views. Then again, many who cross that channel are living their daily lives and not there for photo opportunities. On arrival, again most of the passengers started dashing for the exit way. The boat was not even docking yet and they were already there ready to jump out unto the pier. I did not mind them and took my grand sweet time. And so did other folks who were mostly tourists. The boat arrives at a nice little jetty with concrete balusters in every pathway. And there was the Ceres bus waiting!
I walked towards the bus and I could see destination plate that said CEBU (city) and I found the reason why everyone was running. Whoa! They were on a mad scramble to get choice seats on the bus, that’s why! In fact, when I boarded, it was almost full and the seat that was available for me was second to last row, left side. At least it was by the window, if it was any consolation. The right side was already occupied by a Korean mother and daughter who seem to be already resident in Sibulan or nearby. And you guessed it, the last row was 100% filled by foreigners who came behind me because they too had to take pictures along the way. Lesson learned, if you want to get your preferred bus seat, do what the locals do, they keep running for the entrances and exits during the boat ride hahaha!
And the bus departed… but one more lesson learned here… have thicker clothing ready for the bus ride. Air conditioning on most Ceres buses can bee too cold to bear – even if its sunny hot outside. On this bus ride, some passengers requested the conductor to close the “aircon” from time to time since the minimum thermostat setting was still too cold.
This is a 3.5 hour or so bus ride and is just worth P176.
For a chronology of stories on this trip, click the following article numbers:
19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35