We cannot fully belabor this enduring issue as it is at the core of the problems besetting the tourist industry.
Everybody in Puerto Galera is talking about it, is in agreement with it and thinks it’s needed. However, it seems no one is doing anything to get a RORO ferry running the Puerto Galera-Batangas route, a reality. Everybody seems resigned to whatever will be the decision of whoever will have the courage to make this happen.
Frankly speaking, that is generally how the majority of Puerto Galera businessmen now think. Do what you can for your business and go with the flow. Do not cause a ripple as it might affect your business. This passive behavior might not be the most prudent nor does it make good business sense especially when tourist arrivals continue to decline.
Why do we need a RORO? The simple answer would be because many tourists prefer riding a RORO than an outrigger ferry especially those that come in with their family. There are also times when the waves are frighteningly choppy that even experienced sailor would opt to board the RORO than risk his life on what has been called a “floating coffin”.
Another reason is transport of commodities. Essential goods and products are delivered onboard trucks via RORO to Calapan and then, travel 50 kilometers to Puerto Galera. This makes prices go up to cover for the transportation cost. Hence, prices of commodities will be cheaper by having a RORO that goes straight to Puerto Galera.
So why is there no RORO? The simple answer would be, it is not financially viable, yet. The RORO is losing to the outrigger ferries. The operating cost of a RORO is 10 times higher than a wooden-hull vessel. Moreover, the outrigger ferry can dock at the beachfront making it more accessible to tourists than the RORO which can only dock at Balatero pier.
The solution is obvious. Make the RORO profitable. How? Rally the resort owners and local businessmen to support the RORO. This does not mean that whoever will do this is out to kill the wooden ferry business. There is plenty of business for everyone, for the RORO and for the wooden ferries. We just need a slice of the cake to sustain the RORO. By doing this, we widen the market of Puerto Galera; we can attract more family tourists and travelers have a safer alternative even during stormy seas.
Adding a RORO Bus, like the one that Montenegro Shipping Lines offer will dramatically increase the benefits to tourism. Imagine boarding a bus in Manila, the bus boards the RORO, the bus arrives at Balatero Port and rolls out of the ferry for a short drive to White Beach, Puerto Galera. That would solve many of the problems associated when traveling to Puerto Galera. No more hassles at the pier. Traveling would be easy and stress-free.
Next question is: When do we do this? Soon, I hope very soon.