This is the theme of this year’s 22nd celebration of National Seafarers’ Day. The activity is spearheaded by the Apostleship of the Sea, the National Seafarers’ Day Committee and the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA).
The celebration of the said day is only fitting as the nation found pride in recognizing the contribution the Filipino seafarers are giving in sustaining the development of our country, in the uplifting of their families’ economic conditions and in being ambassadors of the best Filipino qualities through their profession.
It was in 1996 that the then, President Fidel V. Ramos proclaimed the first National Seafarers’ Day.
In establishing the last Sunday of September as National Seafarers’ Day, jointly with the National Maritime Week President Ramos stated that a National Seafarer’s Day be celebrated to give due recognition to the vital role played by our Filipino seafarers towards the development of the Philippines as a maritime country.
As for us here in Davao City, MARINA XI through the leadership of Regional Director Mary Ann Armi Z. Arcilla will spearhead the celebration of National Maritime Week on September 25-29, 2017.
This year’s activity theme is “Connecting Ships, Ports and People.” MARINA XI has lined up various activities such as on September 25 of which will be the opening program to be followed by a Community Mass that will be officiated by Fr. Arnold Balaquinto. The mass will be led by the Mary Star of the Sea Seafarers Family Apostolate.
According to Mr. Alvin Estrella, Maritime Industry Development Specialist II other activities that will be undertaken for the rest of the week, include Maritime Exhibit at NCCC Mall, Silent Drill Competition, Basic Safety and Seamanship Olympics, Search for Model Cadet and Cadette and Championship Games of Basketball and Volleyball. They will be participated in by various maritime industry stakeholders.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) on its overseas employment statistics reported that there are a total of 406,531 deployed Filipino seafarers in 2015 as compared to 401,826 in 2014. This only proves that seafarers will continue to grow in number through the years. Furthermore, POEA states that the Philippines is the world’s main supplier of seamen since 1987.
Filipino seamen are a major segment of overseas Filipino workers who contributed to the Philippine economy. They have been a major source of US dollar remittances to the Philippines. In 2015, Filipino seamen remitted more than US$ 5.8 billion as posted in National Seafarers’ Day FB page.
With that, may our government continue to support and provide the needed programs and projects that will improve the lives of our seafarers and their families.
On another note, I’ve talked with a relative of mine who has been a seaman for more than 20 years. He rose from the ranks for being a deck cadet in 1995, a third mate in 2000, and a chief mate from 2004 up to present. The said sailor told me that their job is not that easy but with dedication, hard work and love for work, one will last in their kind of job. The aim to provide for the needs of their family also serves as an inspiration for them to give their best in their line of work. Though, it’s been lonely at times but with the advent of new technology, one can now easily communicate with their loved ones.
However, he said that technology has also some disadvantage for it made some sailors lose focus in their jobs and become distracted that resulted to tragedy and accident. Thus, my relative said in conclusion that experience, skills and knowledge acquired through the years is the best tool to be the best seafarer one can be.
As for his family, the full-time wife takes care of their one and only ten year old son. The wife said that constant communication is important for their family to become closer amidst distance. She also sees to it that the family has enough savings from the remittances of her husband for their future needs.
May the endeavors of our seafarers and their family be blessed by the Lord Almighty. It is hope that our Filipino seafarers be a steward of their Christian faith with their interactions with their co-sailors through the inspiration of St. Lorenzo Ruiz whose feast we celebrate every 28 of September. St. Lorenzo Ruiz, the patron saint of Overseas Filipino Workers sought asylum on board a ship that left the Philippines for Okinawa, Japan on June 10, 1636 after being falsely accused of murdering a Spaniard. The boat landed at Okinawa and he was arrested on the basis of his Christian religion. He was tortured by the Japanese, but did not denounce his faith and died as a martyr.