A Filipino seafaring career is unthinkable without the involvement of a wide range of people, majority of whom are filial relations that elicit a deeply rooted motivation. A mariner’s story often tells a journey from a life of poverty in some distant province to the perilous expanse of the foreign seas with a culminating goal of providing a better life to the family left behind.
Captain Sherwin Cinco’s journey as a seafarer, however, is rooted on a much larger purpose — training and preparing a new breed of mariners for the realities of the sea.
The 39-year old captain is known to sacrifice his shore leave, a brief vacation that is gold to many seafarers, to develop training courses that are abound with actual scenarios on ships. Such courses set a realistic education and expectation for young cadets whose classroom instructions were widely based on theoretical and abstract ideas.
“During our time, the old salts would normally tell us the wonders of the sea, the lands we are about to see, and the lucrative salary we are about to earn. They only share what is great with the profession but when I first came on-board, I realized that there were too much left to learn. You’ll only know the truth of seafaring when you’re already there,” Cinco recalled.
This prompted the young man to relish each experience, no matter how difficult: years spent away from family, social isolation, and the dangers of natural disasters that at one time, hit them in the Atlantic with three simultaneous storms.
“These are the things that can never be taught by books, you’ll only learn to handle all these by experience. I tell my students the reality of the trade not for them to quit, but simply to open their eyes and set their expectations while in their early years,” Cinco said in reference to the cadets he is teaching from his alma mater Asian Institute of Maritime Studies (AIMS) and from the cadetship program of Döhle Group from which he was a part of the pioneering cadets.
The training courses he developed since 2012 have benefited thousands of young mariners and the passion from which he delivered these courses has indeed uncovered the true seafaring life with all its wonders and struggles.
“It’s true that a career at sea offers a lucrative salary and an opportunity to see the world. But I tell my students that this profession is not all about money, it entails a stable mind, strong body, a firm heart, and an equally strong faith. You are going to live half of your life out at sea and yet you remain to be a family man — no matter how contradicting that may sound, it is the truth in our lives, we support our family by being away,” he said.
Hailing from a family of OFWs, Cinco originally opted to become a soldier so as to be able to serve his family and his motherland whilst staying in the country. But as fate would have it, he tried his luck in AIMS along with some friends who simply tagged him along. Cinco was the only one among his four luck-testing friends who pursued the Bachelor of Science in Marine Transportation and despite his strong intent of becoming a naval soldier, he ended up loving a profession that paved a way to serve others.
“I have discovered my love of teaching when I was a third mate. I like sharing my knowledge and I never drew limits to it. When I became a chief mate, I started developing courses for our Deck Cadet Program and now, I am on my second year of law school and I also enrolled for a masters degree in Maritime Administration with AIMS. My end goal is to give back to my fellow seafarers by assisting them in whatever way I can help,” he narrated. “Who else would understand us better anyway but us fellow mariners.”
Given his bursting schedules at work at sea and on shore, Cinco remains anchored with the love of his family — his parents, six younger siblings most of whom he have sent to school, a wife who constantly challenges him to be a better version of himself, and two sons who inspire him to weather the tests of life.
“My company, Döhle Personnel Management has molded me right from the start; it gave me direction and honed my leadership skills. I am so happy with my relationship with Döhle that I intend to return these learnings to the younger seafarers and to work with them until I retire.
“My greatest lessons in life, however, were learned from the sea. It made me strong physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. The job is hard and I was away from my family but it brought me closer to God. I always asked Him for wisdom and I knew, especially during the most trying times, that He never forsake me,” he said.
With his accomplishments at Döhle Personnel Management and his close working relationship with the European Training and Competency Centre to develop courses for cadets, junior officers, and management officers to ensure that they are working with modern-day tools and right values onboard, Cinco was nominated as a finalist for the Seafarer of the Year 2019 in time with the Crew Connect Awards this November.