Raising the Bar for Maritime Transport in the Philippines
Archipelago Philippine Ferries Corporation (APFC) has raised the bar in the Philippines’ maritime sector by employing the highest international standards and offering exceptional transport services. The company, founded in 2002, specializes in providing vital connections among the more than 7,200 islands in the Philippines archipelago. APFC has transported more than 10 million passengers since it was founded and is growing rapidly. It currently serves Batangas, Panay, Mindoro and Cebu and aims to extend its services to Mindanao and, by early 2016, to Malaysia. APFC also operates and manages four major government ports and one private port.
Most importantly for the Philippines, APFC’s services help Filipinos, visitors and cargo more easily reach their destinations all over the country by creating new transport options that include outlying islands and smaller urban centers. Christopher Pastrana, Chairman, explains, “Around 50% of the 90 million Filipinos reside in island groups marginally served by current transportation services.” He adds, “APFC provides a new alternative for traveling around the Philippines. We have been approached by international travel agents looking for safe transport for their clients. We aim to contribute to promoting the Philippines as a tourist destination by offering a friendly, safe and more efficient way to explore this beautiful country. In addition to passenger transport, APFC can get our customers’ cargo and products to their end destinations faster, thus maximizing their returns.”
Streamlined connections among 7,200 islands
APFC is playing a key role in the government’s ambitious Road-RoRo Terminal System-Strong Republic Nautical Highway (RRTS-SRNH) project, which calls for the integration of the various islands through a seamless system of land and sea transport. Mr. Pastrana says, “When APFC was invited by the government in 2004 to participate in the RRTS-SRNH project, we were delighted. The project showed good commercial promise, but more importantly for me it offered a rare opportunity for a small businessman like myself to contribute to the improvement of the lives of our least fortunate countrymen. By choice, we have opted to venture into the secondary and tertiary routes not served by the big industry players, because that is where we believe we can have the most impact. On the business side, that is where the expansion in maritime trade will be in the coming decade.”
Known for innovation, APFC operates the Philippines’ first and only catamaran roll-on/roll-off (RoRo) ferries. In 2010, APFC partnered with Australia’s Sea Transport Solutions to upgrade its fleet with 10 cutting-edge Ropax/RoRo vessels that transport freight and vehicles as well as passengers. These new vessels meet all international standards and offer comfortable accommodations and all kinds of on-board amenities for passengers.
In its commitment to high standards, APFC places a high priority on training its employees and on always providing fast, safe, convenient, on-time services. Mr. Pastrana is open to forming international partnerships to help APFC expand throughout the region. He concludes, “We want to serve as a bridge among the islands of the Philippines and between the Philippines and regional markets. Our goal is to connect this country and its people.”