MANILA TO BOHOL DISABILITY TRAVEL THE RORO WAY

The Strong Republic Nautical Highway (SRNH), simply called the RORO System – linking the Philippine Islands thru Highways of the Sea, is an integrated network of the highway and vehicular ferry routes, forming a backbone of a nationwide vehicle transport system.

With my 32-year stint at the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), I had the privilege to gain significant exposure to financing of RORO vessels since the SRNH was launched in 2003 by the Arroyo Administration.  Despite the availability of fast and efficient transport system, I didn’t give it a try, only after I retired from the DBP service 7 years later!

Now that I channeled my exposure from the banking industry to the tourism industry, my focus now is at promoting existing and new tourism sites, creating accessibility options to explore the beautiful sites within the Philippine Archipelago.

My disability didn’t dampen my enthusiasm to travel and see the beautiful world outside my shell. My motorized wheelchair has greatly enhanced my mobility to move around and go interesting places.

Start off the journey with our new Tourist Bus and my motorized wheelchair

In 2013, I became a member of the Bohol Federation of Travel & Tour Operators (BOFETTO), an aggrupation of major tourism industry players in Bohol.  Realizing the need for transport buses to serve the growing potentials of Bohol, the association formally incorporated themselves primarily to acquire tourist transport service units such as buses, coasters, vans and cars.

True enough, the corporation acquired lately its 1st tourist transport bus which we brought from Manila.  We combined its road worthiness test trip with sightseeing tours along the way.  Our first of a series of road trip is a 4D/3N travel thru the Central and Eastern Nautical Highways from MANILA-SORSOGON-LEYTE-BOHOL.

We traversed the CALABARZON, Bicol and Eastern Visayas areas on board our newly acquired 50-seater brand new tourist bus, the “BOHOL PREMIUM TOURS”.

Our 1st day was spent literally on the road.  Departing 10:30AM from the Mall Of Asia area, we took off and travelled thru SLEX and took our lunch at Laguna.  After lunch, we continued our road trip towards Naga, crossed the Quezon Province with beautiful sights including the scenic Carilaya Lake along the highway.

From Binan, Laguna to Naga City, our trip covered a travel time of about 9 hrs. so that by 9:00PM we reached and checked in at Carmen Hotel, Naga City.

After breakfast the following day, we availed of a one-day Bicol Tour which covered the following destinations:

  • Our Lady of Penafrancia Shrine, Naga
  • St. John the Evangelist Cathedral, Naga
  • Penafrancia Basilica, Naga
  • Daraga Chuch, Albay
  • Sumlang Lake, Camalig, Albay
  • Cagsawa Ruins, Albay
  • CamSur Watersports Complex

At Penafrancia Basilica, we had the opportunity to have our new tourist bus blessed for road safety and pay homage to Our Lady of Penafrancia, the principal Patroness and Queen of Bicol.

Our 17-strong group was composed of incorporators who were joined by respective family members and associates.  There were no dull moments during this 4-day trip. Everyone was enthusiastic and eager to conquer the Southern Tagalog & Eastern Visayas regions covered by the route.

The following day, we proceeded to Sorsogon Province with a courtesy call and lunch date with Ex-Senator and now Sorsogon Governor Chiz Escudero at their ancestral house located at Sorsogon Province.

The journey was not totally smooth. Humps and bumps were encountered at far intervals, especially to a travelling PWD like me.  The FastCat serving the Matnog, Sorsogon to Allen Samar and v.v was excellent and was PWD-friendly.  A wheelchair lift was provided to carry wheelchair-bound passengers up/down the passenger area.

My major obstacle tho’ was at Bato, Leyte.  There were no good restaurants, passenger terminal and PWD restrooms.  The boat we took was not PWD-friendly. I have to be piggy-carried by my nephew in a not-so-safe platform to board a small vessel!

In a nutshell, the journey is indeed a BEAUTIFUL EXPERIENCE! And really worth a try!