BOC charges P1M storage fee for boat of world’s No. 1 rower

By Rhaydz B. Barcia


A Turkish-American adventurer who became the first person in history to complete an entirely solo and entirely human-powered circumnavigation of the Earth was required by the Bureau of Customs in Legazpi City to pay P1 million for the storage of his boat while he is in the Philippines.


Erden Eruc, 60, was also told by Amelia Garcia, acting chief of BOC’s assessment division and acting district collector Arthur Sevilla Jr., that aside from the storage fee, he has to pay too the expenses of transporting his boat to BOC Manila for storage.


Eruc’s situation caught the attention of Apa Ongpin, a journalist-broadcast executive, who disapproved of the local BOC’s decision and criticized the agency for considering the rowboat owned by the Guinness World Records title holder as a commercial good and not as a vessel that needs to be accorded the right of navigation, subject to quarantine and other examinations.


In his Facebook page, Ongpin posted that the persistence of the Customs officials in Legazpi City to bring the Around-N-Up boat to a bonded warehouse would make Eruc pay more than P1 million in storage fees if he will leave the country in February 2023.


When Congressman Joey Salceda of the 2nd District of Albay learned of Eruc’s situation, he immediately called the BOC to settle the matter of the visiting world’s solo human-powered circumnavigator.


Working together with Legazpi City Councilors Gregorio Fernan Imperial and Martin Calleja, Salceda was able to resolve Eruc’s case with BOC.


Instead of requiring Eruc to bring his rowboat to a BOC warehouse in Manila for storage, the government agency’s district office in Legazpi City permitted the ocean traveler to anchor his boat at the boatyard of the Albay Yacht Club headed by Calleja as president.


The rower who holds 18 Guinness World Records arrived in Legazpi City on March 24, 2022. He started his voyage from Crescent City in California on June 21, 2021. He reached Waikiki in Hawaii on Sept. 10, 2021 and Guam on Feb. 12, 2022. It took nine months for the solo world rower to reach Legazpi City.


Calleja said that from Legazpi, Erden will continue his voyage to Vietnam where he will then travel by bike towards Mt. Everest to scale the highland’s peak.


The circumnavigator’s modes of transport included a rowboat to cross the oceans, a sea kayak for shorelines, and a bicycle on the roads and hiking on trails, along with canoes for a few river crossings.


On July 21, 2012, Eruc crossed the equator twice and all lines of longitude, and passed over twelve pairs of antipodal points, meeting all the requirements for a true circumnavigation of the globe. Guinness World Records has officially recognized him for the “First solo circumnavigation of the globe using human power” on a journey.