Image by Mike Baylon
In the past, there were three intermediate ports of call for ferries going to Mindanao from Cebu. The three are the ports of Dumaguete, Tagbilaran and Maasin and they correspond to the western, middle and eastern connections to Mindanao from Cebu, respectively. Additionally, Dumaguete Port still serve as intermediate port of call for the MV Zamboanga Ferry of George & Peter Lines on its way to Zamboanga. And, Dumaguete still has a sea link to Manila through the liner service of 2GO Travel. Regarding container ships, a few also call on Dumaguete Port on their way south. Among them are Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corp. (PSACC), Oceanic Container Lines and Lorenzo Shipping.
Today, only one ship still use Tagbilaran and Maasin as intermediate ports of call but Dumaguete is still busy and thriving in such a role although now there are already threats from ships going direct to Zamboanga del Norte from Cebu. One is the direct ship of Medallion Transport to Dipolog Port, the MV Lady of Good Voyage. Another is the direct ship of Lite Ferries from Samboan, Cebu to Dapitan through the Pulauan Port. Still, two ships of George & Peter Lines, the MV GP Ferry 2 and MV Zamboanga Ferry use Dumaguete Port on the way to Dapitan along with the ship of Cokaliong Shipping Lines (which can change depending on assignment).
These ships, on the way back to Cebu, arrive in Dumaguete Port in the early evening and depart at midnight. There are also ships from G&P Lines and Cokaliong which make a short hop to Dumaguete and come back to Cebu at midnight, too. Dumaguete Port is one unique port I noticed that midnight arrivals and departures are common making it a true 24-hour port. So the port is open at all hours along with the ticketing booths and also the PPA (Philippine Port Authority) and arrastre offices.
Dumaguete is a busy port. One reason is having the presence of Siquijor island and province a short distance away. Ferries to the island-province originate from Dumaguete Port as Dumaguete is their main link to the outside world. Along with small ROROs by Montenegro Shipping Lines and Aleson Shipping, some small cruisers (some with outriggers) from GL Shipping, the MV Siquijor Island I of Orlines Sea-Land Transport and a fastcraft from DIMC Shipping also connect the island. These connections to Siquijor are basically day connections.
The key connection of the western intermodal link to Mindanao is the Dumaguete-Dapitan route. Three ferry companies operate ships here – Montenegro Shipping Lines, Aleson Shipping and Asian Marine Transport Corporation. They operate round-the-clock. This operation is also another reason why Dumaguete Port is a 24-hour port. And add to that is the day connection by the Oceanjet fast craft in the same route.
Compared to Dumaguete, Tagbilaran and Maasin have no clear equivalents. Tagbilaran is not tethered to an island-province and Maasin is just weakly linked to Bohol as the main connection is Ubay Port in Leyte. Meanwhile, the eastern intermodal connection to Surigao depends on San Ricardo (Benit) Port and Liloan Port and not through Maasin. Those two ports are not used as intermediate ports to Surigao from Cebu.
Dumaguete Port is also the main port of the province of Negros Oriental, its main port of entry. More cargo ships dock here than in any other port of the province and this also adds to the volume traffic of the port.
Shipping connection is a matter of geography. It is not a thing that can be dictated by maritime authorities or by legislative fiat. In this regard, Dumaguete is lucky and for a long time I still see it to be a dynamic and progressive port.