Tuesday, May 8, 2012

At Allen’s RORO Port

Next time I bothered to look outside, our bus was already approaching the RORO Terminal. Its signage say BALWHARTECO but I hear most people say Balicuatro. Looking around I saw postings that BALWHARTECO actually means “Balicuatro Wharfage and Terminal Corporation”. Hmm, private entity? Looks like. I think the place is named Balicuatro though one of the posters said this is Barangay Lo-oc, Allen, Northern Samar. Confusing hehe!

I wondered if this was/is the very same wharf I passed by years ago. It looks like it is not. Maybe there is another wharf in this town or nearby. At least I know, they all serve the traveling public going to Matnog! We were let off the bus and allowed to roam around. So I went around! There was a RORO waiting but a porter told me it was not the one that our bus would ride on going to Matnog – which meant our RORO was not yet around. Hmm.

Cant describe a singular process in this port. Looks like depending on how you came in on what type or kind of vehicle, there will be a certain process you have to follow. I saw many passengers lined up to buy their tickets for the RORO ride. Me and my bus mates were spared of that extra step since we already paid ours with the conductor - together with the bus fares. I asked one woman and she said that some buses do already collect the ferry fares while others don't. Hmm, I wonder why. Maybe government folks ought to look at this.

This place may not be easy to discern for the 1st-time traveler. Confusing signs and procedures abound. Like there is big signage that says BALWHARTECO BOOKING OFFICE. Yet it looks like it is just a guard-house. And yes, the person stationed there is just a guard. Then the new building has no identification other than BALWHARTECO above its entrance door. Thus, one might not readily know if he should enter that building or not!

Yet again, this is the Philippines and that great Filipino habit of just following the crowd applies! Yeah yeah, they just follow the line, no questions, even if later, after minutes of waiting they will eventually find out that they are on the wrong line, and that is when they ask!

Oh, this pier has fairly new and good infrastructure everywhere. Its wide too and being widened still. There are designated parking areas for buses, trucks and private vehicles as they wait it out to be boarded. And there are stores, eateries, bus and cargo booking companies plus a row of stalls that sell products from this and other towns of Northern Samar. Pili, dried fish, fruits  and other eatables are selling brisk in most of them. Aw hey, there is even a bank, a massage parlor and there is even a “disco”, how much more for accommodations! I saw a sign that says Pahayahayan Hotel & Restaurant!

Boarding time was a merry chaos hehe. I did not know if there was some announcement over at the building’s air-conditioned pre-departure area as I was roaming the outside places. I just saw that all of a sudden the throng of humanity went marching forward towards the RORO and so I followed hahaha! Pinoy nga e!Before stepping on the RORO though, it was a scrimmage getting to everyone's respective conductor. I was surprised and watched what the commotion was all about. Haruy! You have to go to your conductor, show him your ticket and get another ticket for the RORO ride. And this must occur a few steps from the boat itself, under nothing but the sun and wind. Good this was a late afternoon. Golly!

So we were up the RORO, and waited some more as the rest of the vehicles climbed in for the ride. Crazy but wonderful experience nonetheless!

Lets talk RORO in my next story!


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