Shipping Out: That Horrible Woman in Cagayan De Oro Port

Some companies want us to have a good experience and others couldn’t care less, but either way you’re bound to have a bad experience now and again. This is my own piece of rant against two Cagayan De Oro port staff. I am writing this to warn and hopefully save everyone the trouble of being caught up in the same situation.


The Story

Let’s call her Snappy and her cohort Grumpy because of their ill temper towards their passengers. You may remember my post about Mt. Sumagaya-Mt. Lumot Traverse in which our travel back home was solely through Trans-Asia at CDO Port. At the scanning section when we handed over our bags for X-ray inspection, Snappy called us out when she saw a “spray” and “Swiss knife” in one of our backpacks. She summoned Grumpy to check the items and found a butane canister and multi-tool. Grumpy, thinking that it’s a Swiss knife, held on to it and said that these materials are forbidden at the port. We were shocked as we never heard a port regulation prohibiting the carriage of butane and tiny multi-tool before. How did we pass the Cebu Port in the first place if such regulations exist? I understand that airports strictly prohibit compressed gases like butane from either hold or hand baggage as it may interfere with the aircraft’s pressurized cabin but in a ship with normal pressure? Nope, doesn’t make any sense to me. Same with the multi-tool; it’s not a bladed weapon per se but a combination of versatile hand tools. After a lengthy explanation to Grumpy about the knife being a camping necessity and seeing that our large back packs were obvious proof that we’re mountaineers, he finally let go of the knife but confiscated all 4 cans of butane. Common sense is not so common at all. Meanwhile, Miss Snappy seemed to enjoy her little show, nagging and yelling at every passenger who unwittingly fell out of line. The so called security guard supposedly in charge of facilitating the human traffic just dumbly stood there watching the commotion take its course.


Items Allowed and Prohibited Onboard Ships

I spoke with Alfert Ornopia, administrative assistant 3 of the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) to get a list of allowed/prohibited items but I was told that Philippine Ports Authority is the agency in charge of the management and operations of public ports throughout the archipelago. However, he told me based on our circumstances that there should be a ship personnel with whom we can deposit the items in question. A claim stub would be provided to safely collect the passengers’ belongings upon reaching their destination port. This was exactly what we had in mind when we boarded Trans-Asia. If you’re like me who occasionally books a trip via port, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the things you can and cannot carry on ships, else suffer the same fate in the hands of the evil guards.

Pending list of things to carry through Cebu Port:



Picture this: You enjoy climbing and hiking so much that you travel out of town to scale other mountains. As a general rule among mountaineers, you always have an itinerary to follow which could be as early as 3:00 in the morning. When you’re meeting your guide, say at 7AM when establishments are still closed and the port crew confiscated your butane and knife, how the h**l can you obtain fuel for your burner (cooking) and knife for cutting your food? These life-saving essentials are – duh – essential for your survival in the middle of the harsh and sometimes uncooperative mountain terrain. Another thing is, were the 5 of us the only people carrying small knives among hundreds of passengers on a 5,463 ton vessel? Highly unlikely. If you intend to inflict bodily harm to all the passengers or blast the whole ship, it would take more than 4 cans of gas and a little knife to do it. Though you can stab someone using the edge of your toothbrush or strangle him using towels or smother him in his sleep. Chill, I’m just kidding. My point is, it all boils down to the person’s intention.


Final Thoughts

Our experience is a disturbing manifestation of the seaport personnel’s lack of quality training and deeply rooted bureaucracy across the board. I’ve witnessed a lot of terrible customer service involving public agencies but I never thought it would happen to us. There’s no denying that some, if not all of our government workers have grown complacent over the years on the matters of public service. Part of the problem can also be attributed to the masses because we have tolerated such rude behavior. Those men and women that Snappy was scolding; they could have “educated” her the basics of human relationship, instead they all accepted her tirade and conformed to the rest. The next time you and I encounter something like this, in public or private, I urge you to take a stand and guide them through the light. Let’s pay it forward and break the chains of silence and ignorance. I will still go back to CDO since I’ve met a few good friends there. After all, it’s not called “City of Golden Friendship” for nothing.



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