The S.S. Moleno

Luxury Passenger Ship Boasts of First Class Accommodation

The S.S. Moleno, De La Rama Steamship company’s latest addition to its fleet, will sail on its maiden voyage to southern ports at noon today. Formerly, it was the S.S. Waialeale, but was recently converted to a luxury passenger liner by its owners and placed on scheduled trips to southern ports.

The S.S. Moleno is a 3,092 ton vessel which can travel 15 knots. It has a single crew powered by steam turbines. It has 64 luxurious first class cabins which can accommodate 192 passengers and it has third class accommodations for 500 more. Besides, it can carry 500 tons of freight.

The S.S. Moleno has four decks. On “A” Deck or Bridge Deck, where the captain’s bridge is located, the officer’s quarters and the owner’s cabin may be found. It is the topmost deck on the boat. “B” Deck houses passenger cabins, a lounge , and a bar, the ship’s hospital and some officers’ quarters. “C” Deck, similarly, is provided with more passenger cabins while a part of it is occupied by the engine officers’ quarters. “D” Deck is where the first class dining saloon is , while aft are the kitchen, crews’ quarters and the third class passenger accommodations. On a lower part of this deck is located the third class passengers’ dining saloon.

The ship is dark green in color but all its appointments are a creamy white, with dark green to set it off. The cabins area all in white – white beds, snowy white bed sheets and pillow cases, white dressing tables. The furniture carry the same green and white motif. Everything about the ship suggests cleanliness.

The kitchen tables, the kitchen, the bath and toilet accommodations, are spotlessly clean. The cooks and mess boys are dressed in spotless white uniforms with green trimmings.

The S.S. Moleno is manned by experienced officers and men, many of whom have been with the De La Rama company since it was founded in October 1938. headed by Captain Juan D. Afable, master, former skipper of “Don Esteban” which was sunk by Jap bombers off the coast of Mindoro in 1942 while ferrying supplies from Iloilo for the defenders of Bataan, and Antonio Suzara, chief engineer, another survivor of a similar disaster, most of the officers and men of the ship have been awarded the Unit Citation Badge of the Philippine Republic.

The deck officers of the S.S. Moleno are ; Captain Juan D. Afable, Master; Teodoro Mendoza, Chief Mate; Lucio Mendoza, 2nd Mate; Paciente Mendoza, 3rd Mate; Dr. Abelardo Aguilar, Physician; Delfin Romualdo, Purser; and Salvador Lerio, Radio Operator.

The engine officers are ; Antonio Suzara, Chief Engineer; R. Torrca, 1st Assistant Engineer; Ramon Desao, 2nd Assistant Engineer and Diomedes Arcaya, 3rd Assistant Engineer.

Chief Steward of the S.S. Moleno is Gregorio Tupas, formerly of the well-known Toms’ Oriental Gold. He is the man behind the splendid cuisine served aboard the ship.

According to people who have been aboard the S.S. Moleno on its inaugural cruise, this ship is the best postwar ship available for passenger service both because of its luxurious appointments and the service, convenience and comfort it offers its passengers. They said, it compares favorably with pre-war passenger vessels, and in most cases, surpassing most of them.

“It is a really luxurious passenger liner, with wide boat decks, nice clean cabins, excellent dining saloons and lounges,” said a widely travelled matron who was among the guests of the S.S. Moleno’s inaugural cruise. “Its cuisine and service are as good, if not better than many first class hotels.”

The managers of the De La Rama Steamship Company are doing everything possible to improve the services offered by their company, not only insofar as its concerns the S.S. Moleno, but also in all the other ships. Messrs. Michael Garett, General Manager; Ignacio J. Arroyo, Traffic Manager, Leopoldo Winternits, Operations Manager; and Mariano H. Acuna, Passenger Manager are exerting every effort to put their company at the head of every other company engaged in interisland passenger service.

[That was the write-up in the Manila Chronicle, August 27, 1947, as researched by Gorio Belen.]

The route of the S.S Moleno was:

Manila- Iloilo (350 nautical miles – 26 hrs)
Iloilo-Tagbilaran (185 nautical miles -14 hrs)
Tagbilaran-Zambonaga (220 nautical miles- 17 hrs)
Zamboanga-Parang (140 nautical miles – 11 hrs)
Parang-Davao (275 nautical miles – 20 hrs)
Davao-Parang (275 nautical miles – 20 hrs)
Parang-Zamboanga (140 nautical miles – 11 hrs)
Zambonaga-Tagbilaran (220 nautical miles- 17 hrs)
Tagbilaran-Cebu (40 nautical miles – 3 hrs)
Cebu- Iloilo (180 or 200 nautical miles – 14 or 17 hrs)
Iloilo-Manila (350 nautical miles-26 hrs)

[From the research of Gorio Belen.]


S.S. Moleno was built as the S.S. Waialeale in 1928 by Bethlehem Steel Co. of San Francisco, USA for the Inter-Island Steam & Navigation Co. Ltd. of Honolulu, USA. A passenger ship as built, she was 94.7 meters in length and 14.6 meters in breadth with a steel hull and powered by two steam turbines. She was later given the IMO Number 2227590.

When their pre-war ships has not yet been returned by the USA after being comandeered in World War II, De la Rama Steamship first bought old liners starting in 1946 with the S.S. Ensley City which became their S.S. Escalante and the S.S. Hawaii which became their S.S. Surigao. Another liner which was taken over by the US Government, the S.S. Haleakala was turned over to De la Rama Steamship and became the S.S. Cristobal. All three came to the company in 1946.

S.S. Moleno was the fourth liner in this series of recomposing their fleet. She came in 1947.

After this, two prewar liners of De la Rama Steamship was returned by the US Government plus they were given two Type C1-B ships, one Type C1-M-AV1 ship, three “FS” ships and three “F” ships.

That is why among the Philippine shipping companies right after the war it was only De la Rama Steamship which were not dependent on ex-”FS” ships and ex-”C1-M-AV1” ships. Then in 1950 they were able to take a loan from the Philippine Government to order three big cargo-passenger ships from Japan.

So among the local shipping companies De la Rama Steamship was first to make a splash in the foreign routes after the war since they had those three brand-new ships and those three Type C1 ships.

S.S. Moleno was sold by De la Rama Steamship in 1951 and she was broken up in Yokohama, Japan in 1956.

[Photo Credit: Manila Chronicle, Gorio Belen]


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