An Open Letter to the Owners of Island Shipping

Each morning, beginning at about 4:30 am, the sound of a yelling captain from one of the ferry’s of Island Shipping, can be heard over the ship’s loudspeaker at Pantalan in Santa Fe, on Bantayan Island.

For several minutes this captain yells at his employees, as they seek to tie up the vessel to the port of Santa Fe. This can be heard all over the area surrounding the Pantalan.

This is a most unprofessional behavior and quite irritating to all those who have to listen to the uncontrolled anger of this captain.

Those of us who hear this each day, wonder what kind of management exists in the Island Shipping company. We never hear a ship’s captain yelling on the loud speaker from any of the Super Shuttle Ferry’s. If the men tying up the ship at the port need instruction, the captain should do this before the ship departs, and never over a public loud speaker. It is very unbecoming and embarrassing to those of us who hear it happen every day.

On many occasions, after this same captain has yelled at the men who are tying up the Ferry to the port of Santa Fe, he then turns on a particular song that he likes and broadcasts it over the loudspeaker of the ship. Every person within a great distance from the Island Shipping Ferry must listen to this music, whether they want to or not.

If you travel to many other countries around the world, you will never hear or see this type of unprofessional behavior from a ship’s captain. They would either be disciplined or fired. This ship’s captain acts as if this is his personal vessel and the whole world enjoys listening to the sound of his yelling at employees on a public speaker system.

Those of us who must hear this abuse, sincerely hope that the owners of Island Shipping will take steps to correct this unprofessional  behavior.

Bringing “Balikbayan Boxes” to Bantayan Island

If you are planning to bring “Balikbayan Boxes” or other boxes of that size to Bantayan Island, expect that you may have to pay twice at Hagnaya and twice again at Santa Fe, to have these items loaded and unloaded onto the Ferry.

When you arrive at Hagnaya, the porters will quickly storm your vehicle in hopes of having the opportunity to move your belongings to the passenger waiting area, and then onto the Ferry once loading begins.

Pay special attention to the men who ask to move your belongings, as those without a shirt that says “Hupa” are not officially working for the port authority. If you allow these “unofficial” men to carry your boxes and then pay them a tip for doing so, you will have to pay a second time for a fee called “Arastre” which is the official fee set by the ports of Hagnaya and Santa Fe to pay the porters to move your belongings on to the Ferry.

As we have been told by the port authority, first you must go to the ticket office and tell them that you have boxes or other items to be moved, and they will dispatch men to move the boxes for you. These men are paid from the “Arastre” fee.

Whether or not this will be found to be true, is untested.

On recent trips to Bantayan Island, we have paid the porters who came to our vehicle to move our Balikbayan boxes and then had to pay a second time the Arastre fee to the ports of both Hagnaya and Santa Fe to move our 5 boxes. We paid a total fee of about P1,400, which is absurd.

When we argued the point with the guard at the Santa Fe Port, he told us that we could either pay the fee or unload our boxes from the van and leave them at the port entrance. He would not allow us to bring out Balikbayan boxes onto Bantayan Island unless we paid this second Arastre fee. This was despite explaining to the guard that we had already just paid several men who took our boxes from the Ferry to the shuttle van a fee of P300. He told us that this made no difference, we had to pay to move them a second time, even though they had only been moved once by the men who first entered the Ferry and moved our boxes.

This is an example of how unorganized and unfair sometimes the fees are when you need to bring larger items to Bantayan Island.

One would hope that someone from the port authority at Hagnaya and Santa Fe would make a policy that a customer only has to pay once to have their belongings moved from the passenger waiting area, to the Ferry, or off the Ferry once they arrive at their destination. It is unfair to the visiting guests of Bantayan Island to charge a fee twice for the same service, or to even permit this to happen. This unfair policy needs to be changed, the sooner the better.

To those guests who arrive on Bantayan Island and have experienced this unfair policy, voice your displeasure to the passenger offices in Hagnaya and Santa Fe, and tell the guard that this policy is wrong and unfair. If enough pressure is brought to bear on those who carry out these policies, they will be made to change.

It is my hope that your experience on Bantayan Island is a pleasant one and that policies such as this one will quickly be changed so that visitors will continue to come to our island paradise.