About 170 people are still missing even as the coastguard and naval vessels are performing rescue operations.
The ferry was reportedly carrying nearly 715 passengers and 116 crew members when the mishap occurred at around 9 pm local time, on Friday.
More than 600 survivors have been rescued so far.
The ferry, MV Thomas Aquinas, was not far from the shore when the collision occurred.
Survivors told media that hundreds of passengers jumped into the ocean as the ferry began taking on water.
The crew members also distributed life jackets.
While the death toll is likely to rise, many of the survivors were sick from swallowing sea water and oil that is thought to have spilled from the ferry.
The 11,000 tonne ferry was 40 years old, and was operated by a Chinese-owned company called 2Go to ferry passengers from Nasipit in the southern province of Agusan del Sur to Cebu city in Philippines.
--IBNS (Posted on 18-08-2013)