Today, the Manila Times inaugurates its Maritime page – another milestone for an industry which permeates every Filipino’s life – but most often taken for granted. Bringing the maritime industry closer to a broader audience on a weekly frequency has been anticipated by many industry stakeholders and players.
Putting up a dedicated maritime section opens up the reader’s awareness to the different sectors which make up the industry – from shipping to seafaring, port operations to maritime administration, shipbuilding and maritime education and training and many other activities allied with sea transportation. Contrary to the general perception on the dearth of maritime information, there is a wealth of current and useful news generated by the industry which could affect the decision-making process of those in trade and business, economics and governance. Most industry practitioners access foreign maritime news understandably for the global character of the industry. Lamentably though, the dearth of up-to-date local maritime news leads maritime players and stakeholders to depend on international news services – a drawback for an archipelagic country.
In the past, maritime news was seen as most relevant to shippers who are looking for available ships, the frequency of sailings and the most economical freight rates. To shippers and traders whose cargoes are transported by sea, the importance of these information is underscored. In this day and age, demand for maritime news has broadened. The ease by which goods could be traded and people’s mobility greatly enhanced beyond national borders brings a new dimension in sea transport thus adding to more people in need of maritime information.
The timeliness of the issues of transport safety and security and how the various modes of conveyance contribute to environment degradation also helped generate interest for maritime news and information. Maritime safety is an issue very close to the hearts of Filipinos, many of whom take passenger ferries despite the perils that the seas present. Ships are also seen as generating wastes that are eventually discharged into the sea, a matter that must be addressed with urgency.
Economic and career opportunities offered by the maritime industry gained progressive attention with seafaring becoming a major interest among many Filipinos. Often times though, seafarers learn bits and pieces of news on matters affecting their profession by word of mouth from colleagues, friends and relatives who are themselves not fully conversant of the issues at hand. In such situations, seafarers and maritime students become vulnerable targets of scheming characters who are out to profit from such lack of information. The foregoing issues have resulted in the increased demand for maritime news and information.
Moreover, mainstreaming the maritime industry into the consciousness of the public at large will help them better understand and allows them to access a range of goods and resources and to avail of employment and livelihood opportunities and economic prospects. Keeping the Filipino public well informed on the subject of the maritime industry is a new form of activism that must be pursued with urgency.
The Maritime page accepts the challenge of bringing to a wider audience current maritime news and information guided by that vision that every Filipino must embrace the maritime circumstance into which he/she is born. Educating the Filipino of what it means to be born in a country of more than 7,000 islands is introducing him to new opportunities and equipping him in navigating the many routes of the maritime world.