Philippines - Facts

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  • The Philippines is an archipelago of over 7000 islands lying between the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea. They are divided into three regions: Luzon to the north, the Visayas in the centre, and Mindanao in the south.
  • The country has a total population of over a 100 million and there are two official languages – Filipino and English. Filipino, which is based on Tagalog, is the national language and English is the medium of instruction in higher education. The Philippines is an ethnically diverse country and there are in fact more than 150 languages spoken.
  • The Philippine Peso (PhP) is the official currency of the Philippines.
  • The Philippines has only one time zone: UTC +8
  • The Philippines has been a popular cruising destination for many years. Day- sailing through the archipelago is undoubtedly the best way to visit this vast area and one can find a good anchorage every night. This also avoids the danger of running into one of the many unlit fishing boats, as well as their nets or traps. Cebu and the surrounding islands have some of the most attractive anchorages and places such as Romblon and Puerto Galera should not be missed.
  • There are small boatyards in various islands and the Filipinos are skilled workers, particularly in wood. Teak is still widely available, but while its price is steadily increasing, its quality is deteriorating.
  • General repair facilities, such as engine or electrical repair, are also available in most centres, the widest range being concentrated in and around Manila. Most marine supplies have to be imported, but local nautical charts are available both in Manila and Cebu. For more details of services for cruising boats see Yachting Essentials.

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  1. April 26, 2024 at 12:36 PM
    profile photo
    MV Destiny says:

    We have been in Subic Bay since August last year as we needed to complete commissioning of our yacht, which was delivered from China via Hong Kong two years ago. I’ve read through the various comments and the most recent report on this marina was from some time ago, so decided it was time to do an unbiased update.

    We arrived from Hong Kong after a difficult passage over the South China Sea (due to problems with the boat more than any weather issues!). Arriving at Subic Bay itself was not difficult but we were prepared with all the correct paperwork and the procedure. It is strongly recommended to book the marina in advance so they are expecting you and can make arrangements. On arrival into the bay, you need to VHF the port control on Ch16 when you get to Grande Island and advise them you are heading to the marina. They will give you permission to proceed. Also, VHF the marina on Ch72 when closer by and they will send the staff to assist with mooring. We had booked the marina in advance and I had also requested the berth number and a plan of the marina, so we knew where we were heading.

    Before you arrive, you need to send pre-advice 48 hours in advance with crew list to [email protected]. We didn’t get any reply – this advice is for the boat. You also need to complete the e-travel declaration for persons at https://etravel.gov.ph – supposedly 3 days in advance, but if impossible to do it can be done on arrival. I believe these are general instructions for the Philippines and not special to Subic.

    Our advice would be don’t come into Subic in the dark unless you are familiar with it! The marina is very dark with lots of background lights and the berths are impossible to see. They are also very low to the water.

    If you are staying at the marina then the check-in procedure is included – you pay only the fees applied by the three authorities – customs, immigration and quarantine. No fee to the marina for the service. We did this and it could not have been easier. We did later visa renewals ourselves at the immigration office in Olangapo – who are very helpful and friendly. The office is located in the new shopping centre.

    Cost of the marina – it isn’t cheap by Philippine standards. By other standards it’s cheap. Our 75ft berth costs 31,500 pesos per month – but we were staying more than 3 months so took a term membership. This pays if you are staying this length of time but not for shorter periods. I do have the latest full price list for the marina but there’s nowhere to attach anything to this post – anybody interested, get in touch (dated from 1 May 2024 – first increase since 2018 I understand).

    It is very true that the marina is very dirty – in fact the whole of Subic Bay is very dirty due to Olangapo City throwing all rubbish into the river which floats into the bay. However, the marina do now make an effort to clean the rubbish out at least once a day – which has made it bearable. We don’t find it noisy – there are not that many boat movements in the marina and we only get disturbed by the weekend events at the yacht club, which can sometimes be annoying. The previous report mentioned a US air base – but there is no air base here at all. Subic Bay USED to be a US naval base but not for many years and as far as I’m aware has never been an airbase (the US airbase was in Clark – about an hour drive away). There are some US naval ships in the dry dock and some commercial ships in and out but not really affecting being in the marina.

    The previous poster also mentioned fueling only by jerrycan – there is in fact a fuel dock where most cruisers fill up from what I can gather. We are a long-range motor yacht and have large fuel tanks – so we arranged a bulk delivery by tanker with Hoya Marine +63 930 082 6421.

    We are informed that the docks were recently renovated and there is some work ongoing. However, compared to our experience they are terrible – wobble when you walk on them and the timber is in bad state of repair, rotting in places. I understand it’s supposed to be good by Asian standards – so guess I’ll live and learn since so far we have only seen Hong Kong in Asia. Water is drinkable but very chlorinated and charged by the m3. Electricity is fine for a sail yacht – but struggle with the trawler and can draw just 32A from the 63A supply (or it blows the fuse on the dock). Not impressed with electrical, water and safety issues – but again maybe I’m just not used to Asian standards yet.

    There are fabulous supermarkets in the area with two large Royal Duty Free and two large Pure Duty Free places on opposite ends of town – don’t be fooled by the duty free misnomer, as there is no such thing. A new shopping mall Harbor Point is within walking distance (at a push – not MY walking distance but probably most peoples!) – or it takes just a few minutes by car. We have been able to get absolutely everything we need here – plenty of Western goods available as well as local of course.

    Deliveries to the marina are simple – from local or overseas online suppliers – subject to the normal Philippine issues for imports. The marina security will accept deliveries and these are either held at the marina staff office or brought to the boat – depending on the mood of the marineros on the day.

    Plenty of restaurants in town – but not much in the marina itself. There’s a Chinese (Hong Kong style) and a local restaurant – but expensive and not particularly good. We would not be OK without a car here – but fitter people may be fine walking further than I am.

    Plenty of workers around to help out with most things – although no sail loft, canvas skills in general are not good either. Stainless steel work is possible but difficult to get – carpentry there are good ones and GRP/fibreglass plenty of them. I’ll try to add some of our contacts into the database of services – not sure how to do that but I’m sure our Noonsite people will tell me.

    Hope this is useful for some people – overall rating for the marina as a nice place to stay (2/10) – as a base for boat work and provisioning (7/10). As a typhoon shelter, I’m told it’s the best in the Philippines – but last summer was quiet on that front. We had no issues from August 2023 onwards.

    Ed and Christine
    MV DESTINY

  2. May 27, 2023 at 6:35 AM
    Andrew Brown says:

    Batangas should not be considered a Clearing-In Port for Sailing Vessels.

    We sailed to Batangas in April 2023 and had a lot of trouble there. The Customs people were friendly. The problem was a demand from an agent for USD8,000 in cash in order to hire a Government barge to allow the Customs Officials to come out to the boat, anchored near the ferry jetty. Under the law no agent is needed and no USD fee beyond a USD2 admin fee in chargeable. The agent also insisted that the owner re-register the boat from a UK to a Philippine boat. We refused and sailed away, illegally, to Puerta Gallera. It took a lot of travel on land and ferry over the next ten days, complaints logged in Manila, and eventually a negotiated deal, with no special USD fee paid, a trip to the boat in a bunkka with a drunken fisherman, with the two Customs guys to solve it. They don’t have a dock for sail boats and don’t welcome them. Most people sail away and don’t pay the USD cash fee and search for another Port; the Customs guys told me that about one boat per year pays the USD big fee, so it is worth the agent’s while trying. In PG there were four other boats that had sailed away, one had been asked for USD18,000.

    Batangas has long had a reputation amongst Philippine seafarers as a place of trouble, where the “authorities find lots of ways to drive you crazy”. According to one local seafarer regarding where to clear-in: “We tell our bosses, “Anywhere but Batangas please”.

    Be sure to clear Customs before Trying to Immigration. If you persuade Immigration to stamp you in you create a new headache.

    Clearing out at Batangas may be easier.

    AB

  3. July 15, 2022 at 4:23 AM
    randycebu says:

    Pirates board sailing vessel 6 miles offshore near Kalibo:

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/sailing.yacht/permalink/6025832214099848/

  4. July 15, 2022 at 4:18 AM
    randycebu says:

    Pirates Board Sailing Vessel On Delivery from Olongapo to Cebu!
    Traveling at around 10 or 11pm around 6 miles off the coast of Kalibo when suddenly a speed boat came behind them (he said their engine was like those thai speed boats) and apparently rammed them slowly (since there is visible paint and scratches on the back of the outboard). Around 11 guys all armed with long arm rifles were there and when they pulled along side them 2 of them jumped on and entered the cabin and looked around to which as originally told, the big boss told them to leave them alone and they left. I think they stole something but it must’ve been from the crews own personal stuff since they didn’t mention anything about our stuff.

  5. October 21, 2021 at 3:03 AM
    mikeking says:

    Stolen yacht. Last seen Cebu early September. It was called Hawkeye, a Sirena 38 monohull, white hull with blue covers and blue stripes.
    Two French nationals aboard a father and son. Please contact if any sightings. Many thanks. Mike.

  6. March 20, 2020 at 4:51 AM
    amarantha says:

    Hi. My experience clearing the Philippines was at Surigao, which I found to be easy, polite and totally free.
    I anchored at Araya Bay, a couple of kilometers west of the city, caught a tricycle and found myself at Luneta Park after finding out that Customs had moved. Going past this delightful park are mini jeepneys (I forget what they call them). Look for those with the word “Pier” on their sides as part of their route description. They go past both Customs and Immigration. Customs is at “Geckos” on the second floor. Immigration is at Giasono Mall further up the road, second floor at the back right side. Ask the driver to let you know when you get there. Delightful officials, and Customs will even give you a cup of coffee while you fill out anonymous comments on your treatment. Cheers.

  7. November 23, 2019 at 9:54 PM
    jpbeer says:

    The information regarding Ocean View Marina in Davao is not up to date. Here is the situation now:

    1. There is now only one pontoon available for cruising boats. The western pontoon has been closed down to accommodate fish cages and the owner’s boats.

    2. The van service has become quite unreliable lately due to the fact that it is used more and more by the condotel next door built by the same owner.

    3. Their website has been taken down, so don’t bother looking for it.

    4. If you really really want to stop at the Ocean View Marina, don’t use the numbers listed above. Send an email to [email protected] Subject: attention Ma’am Ruth.

    5. We have been told very recently that the yard will not do haul-outs anymore. Boats still accepted, but only in the water.

    SY ALYA

  8. November 5, 2019 at 9:54 AM
    kawaboy says:

    Gday all

    My name is Joe Pestana on a Rob Perry Tatoosh 42 and will be travelling with my wife and her brother.

    I’m planning on spending Christmas 2019 with my wife’s family in Legaspi City (Sto Domingo, actually) in Albay Gulf.

    We’ll start from Subic Bay on the 15 Nov > Hamilo Cove Batangas > Puerto Galera, then maybe Romblon Yacht Club OR Busuanga – Coron.-

    Make our way to El Nido then east to Boracay then Masbate.

    I am concerned about making the San Bernardino Passage as I understand the currents are quite strong and I would appreciate comments from cruisers who have made this passage. I would have to time the tides properly and go with the flow, no pun intended. 🙂 but first hand info would be good.

    Comments and info will be greatly appreciated and thanks in advance.

    Joe
    SY Victory

  9. June 18, 2019 at 2:19 PM
    takeshitanaka says:

    Dear Noonsite members. My name is Takeshi Tanaka new to noonsite. I actively enjoy sailing on my 27ft sail boat (Cookie) in Yokohama Japan.
    I am wondering if anyone on this sight can help me to assess the security (piracy in particular) risk in my planned cruising on my friend’s 50ft sail boat through Celebes Sea and Sulu Sea.
    Here is our plan,
    Leaving Yokohama Japan on Dec 29 this year. sail down to Palau, then to Sorong thru Heren isl. Turn to west to RajaAmpat, pass north of Obi isl and cross Moluccas Pass to Manado. Then sail thru Celebes Sea to Zamboanga, pass Sulu Sea to Cebu, Puerutogalera,a, su-bikku、Kaohsiunng,Taiwan、Ishigaki Shima Japan, Atami Shizuoka Japan. Approx 4500NM for three months.
    Sulu and Celebes seas are known as risky area for the cruising sail boats.
    Any information regarding the latest piracy risk will be appreciated.
    Also your open suggestion regarding our cruising course will be very helpful.
    Thank you for your help.
    Takeshi Tanaka S.V. Cookie

    1. June 21, 2019 at 12:17 AM
      takeshitanaka says:

      Subic instead of su-bikku sorry
      Takeshi

  10. February 8, 2019 at 4:15 AM
    Data Entry5 says:

    We are a Seahorse52 motor yacht, Lady Jo. Lady Jo had been moored off our house nr San Pedro, Romblon Island. On the night of 7-8 January 2018 the shackle connecting our riser chain to the mooring buoy was sawed through resulting in Lady Jo drifting across the Romblon Passage and grounding on a rocky beach on Tablas.

    She was battered sufficiently to make a severe hole. Insurer’s marine surveyor has pronounced her a Constructive Total Loss. The local police bungled any rescue attempt by delaying informing the Coast Guard for 4 hours.

    This incident is reported so that cruisers visiting Romblon can take extra precautions against such malicious acts, and that local police assistance may be lacking. In case of trouble call the Coast Guard who were very helpful.

    1. May 27, 2019 at 3:41 AM
      alex5609 says:

      I’m surprised to hear that, and sure it’s the truth. Do you have any idea of the motives to do that? Is Romblon foreigner unfriendly? I’m asking because I have a cat in the carribeans thinking about moving it to Sibuyan or buy another one. I’m afraid now.

  11. September 27, 2017 at 6:39 AM
    Data Entry5 says:

    s/v Java checked into the country in Cebu, which is now NOT the place to do it (Sep 2017). Immigration cost 3000Php, whereas two years ago it cost nothing. when I asked about this, I was told that this was always the cost, so I paid, got two passports stamped (one was a Phil. Passport) and asked for a receipt for payment.

    Was told that I couldn’t get a receipt since the money WAS NOT going to the government. Ha, ha, at least the guy was honest in that this money was strictly off the books! My advice: forget Cebu for checking in. Evan on Cat JAVA

  12. May 27, 2017 at 9:49 AM
    Data Entry5 says:

    Just left HOV Marina on Samal Island, Davao, and glad to be out of there. Abu Sayyaf and martial law aside, the marina is run by an absentee Filipino manager who avoids customers and does not manage his staff.
    For some odd reason, marine time is 15 min ahead of world time, and the employees use this to their advantage at starting, lunch, break, and stop times so as to cut 1.5 work hours from each day. Management is aware but insists on charging for time not worked.

    Theft is an issue and marina provided workers are so unskilled as to be useless. Hire outside contractors if you must have work done, but I highly recommend going somewhere else.

    The marina is located on an island and if you need anything it is a day wasted going into Davao by ferry.

    They could not haul my boat due to the 2m draft!
    The marina owner has plans to turn the marina into a condo-hotel and ignores what little existing marina business remains. There are much better places in the Philippines

  13. February 23, 2017 at 2:59 PM
    Data Entry5 says:

    Posted on behalf of Steindor Sigurgeirsson:

    Just to update information on the safety of cruising the Palawan area, Philippines.

    Early February 2017 we took our motor yacht from Busuanga to Kudat. The route was down the west coast of Palawan after refueling in Coron. We stopped overnight at El Nido, and Uluguan Bay.

    Note that the Coast Guard wants yachts to register at their offices when they stop in Coron and El Nido. Nothing problematic, they only want to see the boat registry and get a crew list. We spoke to the officers in Coron, El Nido and the Coast Guard station of Ulugan Bay when we were there, and they claimed that there was no problem with safety on the south part of Palawan anymore.

    During our stop in Ulugan Bay, we rented tricycles to go to Puerto Princesa for immigration and port clearance, and it went very smoothly. We asked the Customs officer in Puerto Princesa if it would be safe to anchor in the bays southward, and he had a different opinion to that of the Coast Guard. He said that we should not take any unnecessary risks.

    So we decided for the remainder of the trip to stay offshore -approx 15-20nm – and go directly to Kudat. We had no problems during the passage, just the occasional fishing boat passed by and we had a very nice cruise.

    Off Pulau Balambangan there was a Malaysian patrol boat moored, obviously monitoring the channel.

    We arrived on Saturday, so immigration and customs were closed, so we went to Kota Kinabalu for immigration where the port immigration office is open 7 days a week. Customs we cleared on Monday, as well very efficient and only took a few minutes, same as for the immigration.

    So an excellent trip and hopefully we will get further assurance of Southern Palawan being a safe place to cruise in the very near future.

    Steindor
    M/Y Solon Islandus

  14. November 1, 2015 at 11:41 AM
    Data Entry5 says:

    Recently sailed from Surigao to Palau. Tidal currents are very strong but if you’re traveling with the flow it’s just a fast trip through the islands. After winding through the entrance reefs (the channel is quite narrow, suggest you do it with the sun high), we overnighted in Dapa, a very pleasant small town with a lovely anchorage just West of the ferry wharf.

    The main reason I’m writing is to warn of a danger we encountered several times between the Philippines and Palau. Five times we passed quite close to FAD’s, floating cylinders (they looked like steel), about 3m long, anchored to the sea bed. They are not flagged or lit, we passed a couple at night, fortunately, it was a full moon so we could see them.

    On a dark night, they would be impossible to see. If they are, in fact, steel, they present a very real threat to small vessels. We saw five close-by on the lay line between Dapa and Palau. We also had a close pass from a Chinese bulk carrier which did not respond to VHF or HF calls. Of course, Palau is beautiful.

    Norm van’t Hoff
    ‘Jumpa Lagi’
    Leaving Palau for Raja Empat and Indonesia in November 2015.

  15. January 7, 2015 at 2:40 AM
    Data Entry5 says:

    My name is Bruce Curran and in 2003 I published the book titled “Combing the Coral Carpet-Sailing Tales and the Cruising Guide to the Philippine Islands.” The 1st edition can be found at the major yacht clubs in the Philippines, all copies have sold out but the 2nd edition is due out in the first half of 2015.

  16. December 2, 2014 at 3:16 PM
    Data Entry5 says:

    Posted on behalf of Yacht Carina:
    Dangerous High Voltage Wire Near Surigao Strait
    A vessel here at Oceanview Marina reports a deadly dangerous drooping powerline near the Surigao Straits. The vessel is approximately 40′ and they struck the wire at about 2/3 mast height.

    The wire is strung from Bucas Grande to Middle Bucas at the entrance to Port Batuecos at approximate location:

    09 41.2 N / 125 58.8 E

    The Google Earth picture we have of this passage is poor, but there appears a dark shadow at the location the skipper identified. The cm93 database chart is slightly off register here so the location of this waypoint appears to be on the shore when it is in fact mid-channel.

    The vessel survived hitting the powerline but just barely. All electronics including transducers were blown up. Literally, blown up. The lone crew was remarkably not injured.

    Another vessel we met in Palau earlier this year also reported this wire – they came very close to disaster themselves – but we were not able to get a precise location from them.

    Philip DiNuovo
    Leslie Linkkila
    yacht Carina
    Samal Island, Davao Gulf, Philippines