I feel like I have always been lucky during my trip; flights were on time, good weather, and lots of cool experiences. This time, though, lady luck wasn’t so generous. Totally unaware that a typhoon was looming on the horizon, I ventured into this trip with the usual zest and optimism. However, upon arrival in Surigao, it already started to rain heavily. But the boat to Libjo, Dinagat departed without any hitch, so I was still a bit optimistic. Oh Boy, Was I wrong? Afterward, it all went downhill from there.
In Plaridel, Libjo, Dinagat Islands
Upon arrival in Plaridel, Libjo, on Saturday, the rain was steady, so there was nothing much to do. A and I decided to do the island hopping, early the next day, to make the most of our weekend trip before heading back to Surigao at noon. A wasn’t so sure the rain was going to let up. I replied with the usual bravado, “This is great, if it rains heavily now, then eventually it will end, so it means, it’ll be sunny tomorrow.” A scoffed, “Is this scientifically proven, or is this Lorena’s theory?” I reasoned and replied, “Well, not scientifically of course, but even at the time of Noah, the rain did stop eventually!”
However, it did not stop raining, and all sea vessels were canceled since the typhoon just landed. Our flight was Monday morning, so we were still positive, we could still make it if we took the first trip at 5 A.M. But on Monday, no sea vessels dared to venture out. But luckily (so we thought) our flight was canceled so we could ask for a refund, a rebooking or rerouting option.
Our Flight or Lack Thereof
Cebu Pacific offered rebooking and rerouting options. But the rebooking options available were five days away. Rerouting to the nearest port like Butuan and Siargao had no available flights for earlier dates. Considering Cagayan as an option(around 7 hours from Surigao), was to no avail. I did not even consider Davao or worse, Dumaguete (this I could not even fathom, why was this a rerouting option?).
Calling the Cebu Pacific hotline, in an islet, with limited signal and internet connection (only one part of the island has it) was hell since you have to wait for at least 10 minutes to be able to talk to a rep, and the hotline is not toll-free. Most time, the call got cut off from the hotline’s end. Since we could not afford to wait for the five days rebooking option, P700 worth of call to the hotline later, we opted for a refund.
However, asking for a refund is tantamount to climbing Mount Everest. Not only, you have to go through hoops, you are also only given ten days to process it. When we asked for some clarifications, the reply we got “We don’t have any idea how to handle this.” P2500 may not be such a big amount, but I worked for it. Unfortunately, I might have to kiss it goodbye because there seems to be no answer from them.
How to Get Out
A and I looked for another option and were willing to pay extra to be able to board the boat. But still, we had to get out of Dinagat Island first, opting first to charter a small boat that would take us to Surigao. But the resort’s owner advised us not to do it for safety reasons, especially right after an intense typhoon. I asked the help of my fraternity brothers to find us boat tickets, but due to the storm, and the previous cancelations, no tickets were available.
So our first option was, to take the overnight boat, from Surigao to Cebu, Second, Reroute via Butuan (approximately 2 hours away from Surigao), and lastly, Reroute Via Cagayan (about 7 hours aways from Surigao). All these options did not bear any fruit.
Overland Travel Itinerary
Then, the owner of the resort mentioned a trucking option; that would let us arrive in Cebu at 3 A.M. on Wednesday. Well. That was our option, however; we did manage to arrive in Cebu at 10 P.M. on Tuesday.
|Estimated Time of Arrival/Departure||Land Travel||Another Option/Suggestions/Comments||Fare|
|5:00-7:45 AM||Boat from Dinagat to Surigao or Boat from Siargao||Expect longer travel time||Ours cost P150/pax|
|15 minutes||Surigao Port- Lipata, Surigao||We didn’t have enough time to bargain||P150 for the trip.|
|8 A.M.||Lipata- San Ricardo, Leyte||This is a special trip. You can also opt for Liloan, Leyte Option)|
|10:00 AM||Lipata- San Ricardo, Leyte||(our Ferry)P140/pax|
|12:30PM||San Ricardo-Sogod, Leyte by Bus||We took a smaller bus with no breathing room. You might want to choose the bus going to Tacloban and just pay extra. It’s faster. Ask the driver to let you off in Sogod.||P120/pax|
|3:30 PM||Sogod to Ormoc by Van||Another option would be Sogod to Hilonggos, Leyte, and take the 10 PM boat from Hilonggos and arrive the next day to Cebu||P180/pax|
|7:00PM||Ormoc to Cebu via Fastcraft||If you arrive earlier in Ormoc, there’s a chance you can take the earlier fast craft||P635/pax|
I’ve met some travelers at the port who were in the same boat with me. They planned to do the Hilonggos route, but after finding out that it was fully booked, they decided to go with me. Whew, good thing I didn’t lead them astray, after all, I am the kind of person who always gets lost.
But maybe next time, if you heard there is a typhoon coming, then just don’t go. Or if You have money to spare, just enjoy the islands and extend.