Fitter Candido Bantayan Jr. hitched his star to a seafaring dream, which he nurtured despite his inability to finish a marine-related course.
Born in Tondo, Manila and a product of public education, Fitter Bantayan tried to work his way through college and enrolled in Marine Engineering at the Feati University, but was unfortunately forced to give that up when he lost his job due to a labor strike in the company where he worked. He then enrolled at the Don Bosco Technical School, where he finished a General Machine Shop course.
At 25 and armed with a vocational certificate, he took a shot at working at sea because of the need to support a young family. He related how he was also influenced by seafarer friends, who talked him into a rewarding life at sea not only because of the generous remuneration but also the opportunity to see the world for free.
Since he started his career, Bantayan has sailed in various types of ships such as bulk carriers and tankers, mostly flying Saudi Arabian, Liberian, Swedish and British flags. He is also proud of his extensive experience in sailing with mixed crews, mostly with Norwegian officers.
His work as fitter may be devoid of the sophistication and style normally attributed to officers of a ship, but is no less important as the job of a fitter is a crucial one. The job is essentially maintenance work, but is vital to smooth and safe operations. The fitter ensures that the components of a ship are attached together by welding or by riveting. He often uses tools like plate planers, punches, bending rolls, saws, press and other heavy tools. The job requires high skill and experience.
Seafaring according to Bantayan has given him and his family a comfortable living, although he still recalls facing a dangerous episode at sea which almost cost him his life. Not one to recoil from challenges which the job away from his family and home presented, he continued his shipboard employment even after that incident.
For the last fifteen years, Bantayan has been sailing with Imperial Shipping (now renamed as Admare Shipping AB), a Swedish shipping company that is part of the OSM Maritime Group. OSM is an international shipping company specializing in ship management, offshore management and crew management, and new builds management. In the Philippines, OSM Maritime Services, Inc. (OSM-MSI) takes care of deploying Filipino crew to the OSM Maritime Group.
It’s all about people
Bantayan attributed his loyalty to OSM to the caring and welfare program of the company, which he says could be the reason for the high retention rate of its crew complement. The company lives up to its motto of “It’s all about people,” which is clearly demonstrated from the time a crew disembarks up to his next shipboard assignment.
Besides providing briefings and updates on training and requirements for the next ship joining, OSM absorbs processing fees and spares the seafarer an additional financial burden. The company also offers extended health insurance coverage, medical, disability and death benefits to the crew onboard and while on vacation, including their dependents, as well as pension plan for retiring seafarers, among other benefits.
Although still ready for his next shipboard assignment, Bantayan is looking forward to his eventual retirement, which he says he will happily embrace as he prepares to tend full time the two salons and sari-sari store he was able to put up with income from his seafaring job.
The star of this seafarer continues to shine and he is adamant that, if he were to go back in time, he would still pursue that marine engineering course.