The Grey Chronicles

2009.December.21

The Frustrations of Travel, Part II



The boat reached Cebu early this morning. Without a definite place to wait for our boat ride for Masbate, I decided to check-in our bags at the SM Travellers’s Lounge, a few minutes ride from the seaport. The eyes of three-year-old son, who usually likes an early cold bath, lightened up when I announced that we would be taking one before breakfast.

After our cold baths, we searched the vicinity for some place to eat breakfast. It was still early, thus the favorite place my son wanted to eat, Jollibee, was still closed. There was no spaghetti for breakfast for him that he opted instead for a warm milk in a nursing bottle. While I ordered a Filipino breakfast for me consisting of a bowl of rice, sunny-side-up eggs and slices of smoked ham, I also asked for a cup of hot water for his milk. He nursed while I ate my breakfast.

SM Cebu opened at 10:00H, and we shopped for toys, some gifts for home, as well as played video games and viewed my Travian accounts on the Internet. In the afternoon, as our boat tickets stated a 20:00H departure for Masbate, my son requested for a short toy train ride at the SM basement. A quarter before 16:00H, we were on our way back to the SM Travellers’ Lounge to collect our bags and prepare for our ferry bus ride to the Cebu seaport.

As soon as we were at the SM main entrance, I saw the ferry bus ride already at the Travellers’ Lounge already loading passengers. I assured my son that we still had time to catch up. Viewing our tickets, it specified that the boat was to sail at 20:00H. It was about 16:30H then. At 17:00H, my son was prodding me to ride a taxi instead. I asked a security guard whether there was still an incoming ferry bus to take us from the Lounge to the pier. She queried to what destination would we be sailing? I said to Masbate. She exclaimed that the boat for Masbate leaves at 18:00H and I countered that our tickets specified it was to leave at 20:00H. She directed me to a ticket outlet inside the SM Mall.

Leaving our bags with the security guard, I hurriedly tagged along my son to the ticket outlet of Trans-Asia inside the Mall. A staff there communicated with their pier personnel and directed us to go as soon as possible and assured us that the boat will wait for the two of us until 18:30H. Back to the Lounge, collected our bags and queued for a taxi ride.

Many taxi drivers when flagged refused to ferry us to the pier because of the traffic going there. I appealed with the facts of my case as well as that I was travelling with a three-year old. After four taxis refusing us, the fifth one took pity and we soon were braving the traffic and trying to beat the 18:30H deadline. Although the SM Mall was about a ten-minute ride to the Cebu pier on a clear day, during the rush hour it would take much longer time to reach it.

At 18:30H, we reached Terminal 3 and went directly to Trans-Asia boarding gate. The seamen assigned there announced that the boat for Masbate had already left a few minutes ago and turned over us to the ticketing office. No apologies were given until they decided to just refund us our fares and to try if we could be accommodated in another ferry boat via Cataingan. I declared to talk to whoever was in-charge, but they facilitated our transfer from that terminal to Terminal 2 where the ferry boat to Cataingan was also soon to leave at 19:00H. I argued that if we were denied a passage for Cataingan, we will be back there to ask for their appropriate action.

It took about another 20 minutes travelling between Terminals only to be denied again of a passage as the Cataingan boat was already in the process of sailing. Frustrated, my three-year-old son and I went back to Terminal 3 to try to settle this matter. I was fuming mad already because had it not for their staff’s incompetence, we would have been on the boat for Masbate. I remember that when I bought our tickets in Iligan City, I have repeatedly asked clarification on the specified time of the boat’s departure and the ticket issuer specifically and repeatedly claimed that the boat leaves for Masbate at 20:00H.

As soon as we were back at Terminal 3, we were denied entrance because we do not have any tickets for any boat passage. Our Cebu-Masbate tickets were reclaimed once it was refunded by Trans-Asia office. Maybe I was already causing a scene there, and even asking with a pier marshall who said he was busy with his job (smoking leisurely at the entrance) could not help us with our predicament, that the Trans-Asia manager went out of the Terminal entrance after I demanded that she should answer to their incompetence.

At first, the Trans-Asia manager was adamant, claiming that they have already refunded our tickets and thus they do not have anything to do with us. I pointed out that I have only accepted the refund because of lack of personal funds to buy another set of tickets for our ferry boat fares to Cataingan and I have specifically declared to be back to their office if we were denied the passage to Cataingan. The refund does not absolve them of their responsibility for a denied boat passage because of their own incompetence. A grave error was committed by their own employee and I demanded retribution. I even stated, in angry words, that customer welfare should be their concern when the fault was their own! I demanded to talk to whoever was in-charge and it turned out that she was the field office manager for TransAsia in that Terminal.

She facilitated our ingress to the Terminal and to try to resolve the matter. But without any other boat going to our destination at that time, it was already 20:00H, I knew that my son and I will be spending the night somewhere here. After she finished her duties despatching the boat for Cagayan de Oro (so she was the one who permitted the Cebu-Masbate boat to leave without us, even after knowing our plight), she turned to me and offered alternatives for the night as well as her plans for our travel home. The only available place for us to sleep at this time was at the Terminal which closed it gates at 21:00H. She promised to be back in the morning to settle the problem.

There no available store to buy us dinner, thus I went to bed without it. Fortunately, my nursing son only asked for a bottle of milk, after repeatedly asking why we were not on a boat, and was soon asleep. Four other groups of passengers were stranded with us in the Terminal, and our conversations turned into what were our individual circumstances for staying. All of them agreed that we should have demanded a more comfortable accommodations rather than temporarily billeted in the Terminal plus additional renumeration for Trans-Asia’s incompetence.


Notes:

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 LicenseDisclaimer: The posts herein do not necessarily represent any organization’s positions, strategies or opinions. Read the full version of self-imposed rules for this blog: A New Year; New Rules. Unless otherwise expressly stated, the posts are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.
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