Manila to Boracay by Land and Sea


When the Department of Tourism launched the Safe Trips campaign alongside car brand Nissan in November 2020, the idea was simple: promote travel in an era when people were hesitant to step out of their homes. It was a logical partnership as the Japanese brand is a huge advocate of tourism, particularly land travel. Safety was, of course, of paramount importance, but the gradual easing of health restrictions also meant the slow revival of the sector ravaged by the pandemic. 

One year later, both the DOT and Nissan have renewed the partnership with a commitment to intensify efforts in supporting local businesses and ramping up awareness on sustainable tourism.

Nissan Philippines’ General Manager for Communications Dax Avenido, Nissan
Philippines President and Managing Director Atsushi Najima, Department of Tourism
Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat (onscreen), Department of Tourism Assistant Secretary Howard Lance Uyking, and Department of Tourism Region 6 Director Cristine Mansinares at the contract signing of the renewal of the Safe Trips campaign

Photo by Nissan Philippines.

The ceremonial signing, which happened in Boracay, was also a chance for Nissan to show off its slate of new vehicles. That meant taking the new Terra, the new Navara, and the new Almera all the way from Manila to the country’s number one island destination. 

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Most people travel to Boracay by plane; an hour’s flight from Manila, a quick boat ride from Caticlan port, and you’re there. Traveling by land is a bit more complicated, and, clearly, takes much longer. But the invitation to make the unusual journey was too good to pass up; Esquire Philippines is always up for any adventure.

The first stretch was the drive to the Port of Batangas. The RORO (roll-on, roll-off) ferry was scheduled to leave at around midnight, which meant we had to be there about an hour before to load all the cars (there were about 18 or so cars in the convoy). The ferry ride itself took about an hour and was actually pleasant and comfortable.

After a quick midnight merienda break at a restaurant in Calapan, it was time for the drive across Mindoro Island. It was the middle of the night, and we barely got any sleep on the ferry, but we pushed on. Luckily, we were driving the new Terra, which was just launched earlier this year. Powerful, spacious, and comfortable, the Terra is exactly the kind of vehicle you’d want to have on a drive like this. With the air conditioning and the music blasting, we cut through the mostly paved roads, across farmlands and modest homes, over rivers and through patches of forest. The drive itself was breezy; if it weren’t 4 a.m. and pitch black outside, it would’ve been perfect.


A row of Nissan vehicles on the road in Mindoro Island

Photo by Nissan Philippines.

At the port of Bulalacao, about three hours since we pulled out of Calapan, we stopped again for a proper breakfast. We were to take another RORO, and this time, it would take us all the way to Caticlan, the gateway to Boracay. Similar to the first ferry, the journey was just as pleasant and relaxing (although I was even more relaxed this time; I fell asleep two minutes after finding a good seat).


About two and half hours later we finally arrived in Caticlan, the first time I got there in anything other than a plane. The last stretch was a speedboat ride to the resort. The entire journey, from the time I stepped off my house, had taken nearly 18 hours. It was an exhilarating, if not a bit exhausting, way to travel to the island paradise. 

Organizers of the event planned several different activities while we were in Boracay, including an early morning bike ride inside Megaworld’s Newcoast property, a drive in Nissan’s bestselling electric vehicle the Leaf, a food crawl through some local restaurants, and some free time so everybody could experience and appreciate the joys of the island on their own. There was still a mask mandate throughout Boracay, which everyone strictly followed. Unless people were sitting down to eat or drink, or going into the ocean to swim, they were required to wear a mask. 


The Nissan Leaf at the famous 'keyhole' in Boracay

Photo by PJ Cana.

I was last in the island in October, and, since then, it was clear there were many more visitors to the island, which can only mean good things for the businesses who rely heavily on tourists for a living. Data show that there were around 32,452 tourists in Boracay that month, which is a 7.5 percent decrease from the 35,108 who visited the island in July. But all signs point to a robust recovery for one of the country’s top tourist destinations.


“The Department of Tourism gladly welcomes the renewal of its Safe Trips partnership with Nissan Philippines to continue the push to revive our tourism industry safely and responsibly,” said Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, who attended the ceremonial signing virtually. “As more people travel to our tourist destinations all over the country, jobs and sustainable livelihoods are restored and created for millions of Filipinos.”

The Nissan Leaf is used as a power source during an event in Boracay

Photo by PJ Cana.

“Through this campaign, we have seen for ourselves that safety and responsibility are not obstacles to enjoying the beautiful destinations of the Philippines,” added Atsushi Najima, president and managing director of Nissan Philippines. “In fact, they are important factors that make your trip a more enjoyable experience for you and your loved ones. This is an advocacy that we are excited to continue with the DOT.”




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Paul John Caña
Associate Editor, Esquire Philippines
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