FREEDOM An experience shared by riders and seafarers who, at that single moment of clarity, submits to the bliss of open-air, of vibrating engines that heighten the vibrance of a panorama, and the steady motion that renders everything in a vivid blur of colors and scenes.

At that moment, they are not just sailing or riding. They are flying. They are in control. Their senses are awash with the blood-racing freedom that often takes men back on the road or at the open seas.

Dave Sayson, a second mate onboard dynamic positioning (Dp) vessel, enjoys the best of both worlds. As with many seafarers, he started young. He was only 20 years old when he first had his taste of the liberating act of sailing.

"The first time is always memorable. I was fresh off school with the University of Cebu as a scholar of the Norwegian Shipowners' Association (Nsa) when I boarded my first vessel. There were so many unfamiliar faces of different nationalities. The days of adjustment were hard. Nonetheless, being out at sea is so exceptional almost nothing could equal the experience," the young Cebuano shared.

Sayson started out in 2013, but unlike the majority of seafarers his age, his initial venture was not with traditional ships. Dp vessels are a computer-controlled system that automatically maintains a ship's position using its propellers and thrusters. It monitors the changes of the wind and waves, and thus, alters the course of the ship suitably without the use of anchors.

"The most challenging part was when we had to move the vessel backward across 50 turbine wind farm using only a joystick. We went on for several days, taking 12-hour shifts of tense duties. The task not only refined our skills and confidence as navigators but the exhilaration of piloting a floating superstructure was immense," he said.

Three years later, Sayson explored what freedom land can offer.

"I always loved motorcycles. It gives a deep sense of freedom whenever I'm riding and it's as if the wind washes my problems away. It's just me, my bike, and the road. In my sheer appreciation of my bike and making sure it won't be dented or scratched, I found myself making my scratchpad sticker."

The urge to maintain a motorcycle is shared by many enthusiasts, thereby, instigating a turning point in Sayson's career.

"With the help of my wife, family, and friends, I converted my garage into a motorcycle sticker shop in 2016. Padhessive Philippines and Grafixhub was the first and only shop in the country that offers such a product that it instantly became a hit in the national market. Shipments around the Philippines are flying until we had to open a branch in Mandaue City, Cebu, and another in Lapu-Lapu City."

The experience was a roller coaster ride for Sayson, however. The surge of the Covid-19 pandemic rendered him and his 19 employees fumbling for support as bikers across the country had to stay in and wait out.

But Sayson is a Filipino seafarer – a man of grit, trained to withstand storms and navigate through harsh waters. He is currently paving ways to ride the winds of freedom once again.

More than a sailor and a rider, Sayson is simply "Dave" to his friends, "daddy" to his daughter, Pia, and a good husband to his wife, Lara.

"Riding and sailing can be fun and liberating but nothing beats the love and laughter I have with my family as we share this journey," he concluded.