What constitutes success? What qualities make an individual destined for success? What are the secrets to success?
I think most of us will agree that in any field, material prosperity is not the primary measure of success; nor is the pursuit of it the main motivation for success. In all the years I have been in the company of individuals who have achieved their goals, I have observed that they have pursued not money, but their passion. As the philosopher Albert Schweitzer said, “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”
A closer look at some of our successful maritime professionals will prove my point. In my previous column, we introduced you to some of the successful women in the industry, in honor of World Maritime Day’s theme, “Empowering Women in the Maritime Community.” Let us get to know other successful seafarers.
Chief Engineer John Regan Delos Santos has a passion for excellence, and is guided by his vision of helping raise not only his competency and skills but those of the other engineers onboard the vessel with him. A graduate of the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy, Delos Santos was among the Top three board passers of the 2008 Licensure Exams. He holds the honor of being the first Filipino in his company to rise from being an Engine Cadet into a Chief Engineer. An accredited instructor of MARINA, he shares his knowledge with other seafarers by teaching at maritime training centers during his shore leave.
Chief Officer Gilbert Bune has been sailing for over 20 years, displaying outstanding competence and leadership. During his shore leave, he shares his knowledge and experience with his fellow maritime professionals as a training instructor. He always reminds his colleagues to save and prepare for their future through responsible financial management. As one of the directors of the Anti-Narcotics International Assistance Group or Nariag, an NGO that focuses on fostering community involvement in the fight against illegal drugs, he engages in activities that support and promote education, especially among the marginalized sector. In 2019, he donated school supplies for the indigent pupils of Barangay Patungan, Maragondon, Cavite.
While Chief Engineer Delos Santos and Chief Officer Bune’s contributions to society take the form of education and knowledge-sharing, Captain Manuel Balinquit focuses on the environment. He is known among his peers to be not only highly competent and dependable at work, but also mission-oriented. When onshore, he helps victims of natural calamities, conducts a sustained feeding program, organizes coastal cleanups, and supports wildlife conservation efforts. This concern for the environment did not escape the attention of the DENR. Last November, the department commended him for setting free a Hawksbill Sea Turtle that was trapped in the shores of Legazpi and safely turning it over to the Pawikan Conservation office. He also showed courage and leadership by rallying his officers and crew to rescue two Korean fishermen in distress at the Port of Nakhodka, Russia in August 2018. For his accomplishments, he was nominated as Seafarer of the Year at the inaugural Crew Connect Global Industry Awards.
Such demonstration of courage and heroism is not rare among maritime professionals. Working in an environment that is replete with dangers and often unforeseen challenges demands constant vigilance and readiness to act and help without counting the cost.
A number of Filipino global maritime professionals hold this distinction. Let me share the stories of just two of them, for now.
On January 12, 2018, Captain Aldwin Agpasa led his officers and crew in rescuing eight fishermen from a sunken Vietnamese vessel at the West Philippine Sea. His ship was among the three merchant vessels which responded to the MOB alert sent out by the Singapore Port Operations Control Centre. For their exceptional seamanship and heroism in the face of difficult conditions that night, Captain Agpasa and his team were named among Marina’s Outstanding Seafarers during the 2018 Day of the Filipino Seafarers Awards and Recognition Ceremony.
Also in January 2018, Able Seaman Alejandro Flores was part of the rescue team that came to the aid of the distressed yacht “Jaunt” which was stranded off the coast of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Amidst stormy conditions and heavy seas, AB Flores piloted a rescue boat deployed by the LNG carrier to bring two American sailors from the damaged yacht to safety, and turned them over to Panamanian authorities. Like Captain Agpasa, AB Flores was recognized as one of Marina’s Outstanding Seafarers during the 2018 Day of the Filipino Seafarers Awards and Recognition Ceremony.
Leading English art critic John Ruskin once said, “Does a bird need to theorize about building its nest or boast of it when built? All good work is essentially done that way–without hesitation, without difficulty, without boasting.”
You only need to get to know our seafarers to know how right Ruskin is.