At least 73 of those onboard have been rescued, with many jumping into the sea, according to coastguards and survivors. Video shows an enormous black smoke cloud billowing from the ferry, which was engulfed in flames but has now been extinguished.
Coastguard officials said the vessel was close to the anchoring zone in Batangas, a port south of the country’s capital, Manila.
Among those rescued is a 44-year-old woman who has been taken to hospital.
The cause of the fire is not yet clear.
Pictures of the aftermath show the flames extinguished.
The blaze was put out with the assistance of another ship.
Passenger Benedict Fernandez told DZMM radio he jumped into the water with his two children.
Mr Fernandez said: “I pushed my children off because if we didn’t jump from the top, we would really get burned because the soles of our feet were already feeling the heat.”
They were rescued from the water by a boat and transferred onto a tug boat which took them to land.
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