Staying Calm and Collected When Stranded in the Philippines

For the first time in my life, I was stranded in a Philippine seaport on the night of 3 July 2015. All Cebu-bound vessels were not allowed to sail that night from Tagbilaran City. This was due to the gale warning issued by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration, the Philippine weather bureau. The gale warning indicated that waves in the Visayas seaboard could be as high as 4.5 meters. So, along with my brother, we were left with no choice but to spend the night in Tagbilaran City.

Here are a few lessons we can share from the experience:

Do Not Panic 

Do not panic. Panicking only causes unnecessary stress. Stay calm and it will help clear your mind. You are also most likely not alone. There are many others who are as unfortunate as you. 

Do Not Make Hasty Decisions

Think well about what to do, do not make haste in making them. After all, your safety must be your primary concern. Remember that the reason you are stranded is because the authorities assessed that it is unsafe for boats to travel. Maybe, the best you can do is wait for when the relevant government authorities say it is already safe to travel. You are better safe than sorry. There will be individuals who will try to take advantage of the situations and may go to the extent of feeding you false information such as some boats leaving in some other place. Some will offer you all sorts of services such as lodging places, transportation, charging your phone batteries, and even wifi connectivity. We understand they are trying to make a living and if you truly need their services, you can hook it through them. But take only what you need specially when you are running low on resources.

Accept Help, Offer Help 

Know that there are well-meaning individuals and organizations who genuinely want to help in situations like this. It is a humbling experience, not humiliating. When we got into that situation being stranded in Tagbilaran City, we saw the Red Cross doling out meals to stranded passengers. It's relieving. And it's easier to accept help on my end knowing I do my share to help others in distress in my own little ways in times of disaster. What goes around comes around.

It will also help to interact with other stranded passengers. You might actually calm some of them. The feeling of being alone in a trying situation is dreadful and it is cathartic to some to have even the slightest of human interaction.

What to do when stranded in the Philippines
Queueing for food

Always Keep Yourself Updated 

Be alert for announcements. They may pertain to your safety or they may be information about letting ships sail already. Whatever it is about, updates help you make sound decisions about your situation.


When you are running low on resources, save what you can that you might need should your ordeal extend for a few more days. When there is free food, you don't need to buy food. Charge your phone batteries for free at the outlets in the passenger terminal. When you don't have enough to check in at a hotel, sleep at the passenger terminal. Many stranded passengers spend the night there too. It's also quite secure as passengers get checked upon entry.
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