Filipino seafarer: At sea for all



How aptly described! The theme for this year’s “Day of the Seafarer” evokes various meanings.

For the ship owner, it means entrusting valuable assets worth millions of dollars to seafarers who are competent to man and navigate ships to safety. In addition to the technical qualifications of the seafarer, ship owners look for seafarers who have a natural affinity for the sea and the Filipino seafarer has that in spades!

Farmers, manufacturers, traders, shippers and all who need to move their products rely primarily on marine transportation. Products and goods are exchanged among nations, raw materials brought to sites where they are transformed into finished products, which are then delivered to end users and consumers. It is acknowledged that more than 90% of global trade is moved through sea transport, navigated by seafarers. The Filipino seafarer plays a part of this chain of undertaking.

Look around and try to figure out how many of the things you see and use have been transported by ships. Your immediate response would probably be that things you use everyday like cars and motorbikes came from the manufacturers and assemblers in Laguna, a land-locked province. Think again. The components of the cars were shipped from Japan, Korea, India or China. How about the television set, the computers, printers and cell phones, the gasoline and LPG tanks, all these would have been carried on ships before it reached your home. Much of the food we consume are brought by ships from the coastal provinces of the archipelago and from other parts of the globe. The list is inexhaustible. And there is a high probability that a Filipino seafarer loaded and stowed these items on to the ship or even steered the ship itself.

One is not amiss into thinking the Filipino seafarer is out to sea to advance his career and insure his future. Yet, it must be clear that the Filipino seafarer is one who opts to leave his comfort zone, far from the warmth of home, to be embraced by the vast oceans which sometimes could be harsh and punishing – as he fulfills his profession as mover of the world.

It is therefore only fitting that the International Maritime Organization in 2010 has decided to mark June 25 of every year as the “Day of the Seafarer” in recognition of their indispensable service to international seaborne trade, the world economy and society at large. In 2011, President Aquino issued Presidential Proclamation No. 183 declaring June 25 as the “Day of the Filipino Seafarer.” Since then, the Philippines celebrates this day as a tribute to the Filipino seafarer.

In casual conversations with seafarers, there is that sense of gratitude for the recognition that comes their way. Still many of them would wish to see the appreciation for their contribution go past a one day event and into every occasion in the performance of their profession. Translated in practical terms, Filipino seafarers appeal for true “service-oriented” government service. Only then will they feel there is sincere campaign against “red tape,” fixers and long queues.

There is big hope their appeal can become a reality – with the incoming administration’s strong commitment to good governance.


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