“I really love this city, It is beautiful and It’s so multidimensional. People say it has a darkness and a decadence, which it tries to hide; they say it’s full of the pretentious and opulent trying to strangle the dark reality. But that’s true for most of the other great cities too. . . .
There is a soul here . . . and that soul is as pure as the heat of the sun that shines down on it and the rain that falls to purify it.”
― Umair Naeem,
The first time I set my foot here, first thing comes on my mind is the scent of its air, like a perfume that goes inside my head and send me to a euphoria that brought me back to my good memories of the beautiful Obando in Bulacan. The familiar scent of a fishpond, rivers and muddy sea; it smells fish, crab and oysters- and most of all it smells MONEY. However, Roxas City is much better version. The city, dubbed as the”Seafoods Capital of the Philippines” looks classy and yet simple on my first impression, and so does my second. It has a well maintained city street with flourishing businesses on each and every corner, at the other side of the river is the century old structure and a museum which I believe a welcome treat for every first timer here; their “Baybay” or beach front – facing the Sibuyan Sea, known to be a rich fishing ground – it has plenty of reasons to fell in love with, for one is their restaurants (along Baybay) which offers variety of mouth watering seafood; two, is the many places to explore and get a change to grab some photos- almost filling the entire 8Gb of memory of my dslr camera. Pueblo de Panay on the other hand, is quite unique to my eyes because of the vast landscape of greenery with establishments (worthy of a visit) sprouting all over the rolling hills- it made me wish to stay for few more days and maybe, just maybe I might be coming here every now and then. And finally, the most promising tourist attraction is the majestic shrine of Sacred Heart of Jesus standing over the hilltop comparable to that of the Christ the Redeemer of Brazil which can be seen far off-shore. How about that for Roxas City!
I have been here twice before, the last one was just three weeks ago- exactly five days after New Year’s celebration. Coming here together with a friend was a welcome treat for us. As planned months earlier, we embarked on a 36 hours long Island hopping adventure coming from Dumaguete on our way to Batangas/Manila. Actually, traveling here was like a mere familiarization to the once Off-the-beaten-path, but for my companion being his first time it was an adventure of a lifetime. Our trip here (as my traveling companion have said “rather unusual because we were traveling on foot at the not so quite familiar road heading to our destination”) was rather not easy as we took every transportation available- slow boat, bus, jeep and tricycle ride; our trip took us on a route from Dumaguete heading to Bacolod City then on Dumangas-Zarraga up to the City of Roxas. And after few hours of strolling and gazing on a landscape of the city within late afternoon we were sailing on a calm sea towards the island of Romblon, Romblon, and then further more to Port of Batangas before heading to Manila. After a two days of rest, I myself, on my homeward bound took the same road again, the Manila to Batangas (2 hours bus) then took a 19 hours boat trip for Roxas City, then another two hours bus ride to Iloilo City before heading to Bacolod via fast craft, and culminating my trip is a six hour drive down south to Dumaguete City, indeed a back-breaking and mind boggling travel. So eager to know how to do it? Well, follow this easy tips:
Coming from the Backdoor
Going to Bacolod via Dumaguete is not really a big problem as big buses of Ceres Tours plies on this route every now and then, it goes directly to Mabinay then to the City of Kabankalan before heading to the City of Smiles- after several more stop. The trip last for six hours and cost 270 Pesos for ordinary buses and 359 Pesos for air-con buses.
If you’re coming from Cebu City just head to Port of Toledo in Toledo City, from there board a fast craft for San Carlos City in Negros Occidental. Once arrive you have to take a short tricycle ride to the bus terminal going for Bacolod City.
Click on the link to see ferry schedule: Toledo to San Carlos ferry
Once in Bacolod City take a public transport vehicle to BREDCO Port and then hop on-board on one of these RO-RO vessel forDumangas Port. Fare charges for each person cost less than a hundred pesos, travel time usually last about two hours.
Click on the link to view Ferry schedule: Bacolod-Dumangas vv. RORO Guide (2016 update)
Note: You may also board a Fast craft such as this heading to Iloilo City or vice versa. The lowest fare for this fast craft per person usually at 200 Pesos plus terminal fee of 30 Pesos, and travel time last about an hour or more.
Upon arrival in Dumangas Port you only need to take a little walk heading to the exit, a barker will approached every passenger and points to the numerous tricycles queuing one after another awaiting for passengers, I took one of these public transport to reach the town of Dumangas. Travel time usually last for about 10-15 minutes and cost about 15 Pesos per head.
Side note: Photo above shows the Fast craft terminal in Iloilo City. Just in case you opted this destination upon arrival to this Port you need to board a Jeep heading to SM Delgado and then from there another Jeep going to Tagbak Terminal. Bus terminal (the newly constructed building along the highway) going to the northern destination such Caticlan or Roxas City is located in Tagbak, Jaro. Cost for the two Jeepney ride would be at least 30 Pesos per person. If you’re not in the mood for a Jeepney ride then you may opt for a Taxi ride, flag down rates cost about 40 Pesos and if you’re lucky your fare would reach to about 100 Pesos less.
To view latest ferry schedule, please click your mouse on the link: Roro & Ferry Schedules
On the other side of the town away from Iloilo City is the sleepy town of Dumangas – 24 kilometers away from the capital- about a hundred meters away from its town hall is the public transport terminal for passenger Jeepney’s and Vans which usually all in queues to take passengers. Their service usually last from sun up to sun down. Jeepney route usually goes to Iloilo City via Zarraga and vice versa, whereas Van for hire take the Coastal Road in route to Iloilo City (Baldoza Terminal, La Paz).
Side Note: Back in Iloilo City the biggest bus lines in Panay Island (perhaps in the whole country) that often preferred by almost every tourist and local passengers because of their reliability, convenience and availability even at night. Buses often leaves every hour (from sun-up to sun-down) to Roxas City and vice versa. Travel time takes about three hours (traffic and road repair works means it may take more than that), cost per person depending on bus line or van for hire but usually it never goes beyond 200 Pesos.
Again if your coming from Dumangas there is no need for you to go to Iloilo City to have a decent bus ride to Caticlan or Roxas City, just ask the Jeepney driver to drop you at the town of Zarraga (at the National Highway), and from there a handful of bus lines goes to and from Caticlan or Roxas City. Length of travel usually last for two hours and fare cost per person is about 170 or a little less.
See the video showing the Highway: Zarraga Iloilo
The Immaculate Concepcion Cathedral located in the old Pueblo de Capiz (Capitol area), from here it only takes a tricycle ride from a much better public transportation hub in Roxas City ( Buses normally stops here and it will never venture near the city street- I wish Dumaguete can emulate their willingness to make their city organized to lessen the problem on traffic) located in Pueblo de Panay.
Remember: Traveling here is pretty easy just follow the few road tips above and you’ll be in Roxas City in no time.
Unfortunately there are no passenger ship that connects this two cities, one must travel on a bus (plying LRT-Buendia to Batangas Port) for at least two hours via SLEX. Almost every bus companies serving this route offers air-conditioned with entertainment on-board of course, and fare cost is somewhere between 150- 200 Pesos.
2GO Travel’s M/V St. Anthony de Padua sails from Batangas to Roxas City via Romblon, Romblon every Tuesday and Friday at 10 PM. Sea travel usually last to 15 hours and fare cost start at 1,100 Pesos for economy accommodation. Trying it myself last three weeks ago, I think the experience I have on-board was over-all pleasant although the food served to economy passenger wasn’t that good at all. I know first class accommodation was way better, but sorry to say I am no fan of first class accommodation and so does majority of sea-going public.
The cheapest fare around at 950 Pesos (Air-conditioned room) per person is via Super Shuttle RoRo 2 which plies three times a week from Batangas and every Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 3 PM coming from Culasi Port. It is highly recommended if your bringing along with you your SUV, pick-up and/or sedan going to Caticlan or down south Iloilo. They do have cheaper charges on each vehicles as compared to the rival. But honestly I won’t recommend it to any tourist as facilities were not acceptable by decent standard such as toilet facilities, I’m disappointed really about such neglect, it was simple necessities that should have been looked at carefully. Decent dining table coupled with fresh cook foods (if any) must be accorded to paying passengers, if possible. I’m fed up with on-board canteen whose expertise is to serve instant noodle. I think the management should address this simple passenger necessities to garner better feedback and perhaps win more patron- just my humble opinion.
Click on the link to see ferry schedule: Batangas RoRo/Ferry schedule
Caticlan Jetty Port in Malay – a transportation hub for RORO vessels coming from Port of Roxas in Mindoro Oriental, Odiongan Port in Tablas Island as well as Port of Batangas- a jump off to the island of Boracay Island is another alternative point of entry, although the drawback is that of the punishing land trip that is quite stressful. From here it takes only 2 to 3 hours scenic drive to Roxas City via Capiz-Aklan road network, Van for-hire as well as Ceres Tours have a daily trip here; Fares between Roxas City to Caticlan cost around 200 Pesos more or less per head.
Click on the link to see ferry schedule: Caticlan-Mindoro ferry