• lotus-mcb2016

    ICTSI: a nation’s maritime saving grace

    As a maritime writer, my curiosity about International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) is not spurred by how much it earns (consolidated revenues from port ops in the first nine months of 2016 were up 5% at US$835 million). Or by how many containers it handles (total throughput of 6.4 million TEUs in the same period, up 12%). What fascinates […]

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  • yoshitoshi_nichiren-in-exile-at-sado

    Thoughts on exile and maritime writing

    Calling a spade a spade is not exactly the style of writing that would earn one plenty of fans. Indeed, Marine Café Blog has elicited some harsh reactions over the last seven years. Some of the harshest have come from Filipino readers, which makes me feel like an exile in my own country – like the Buddhist priest depicted in […]

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Cadets in servitude and human rights

It tells a lot about values in Manila’s manning sector. Maritime cadets are made to work as unpaid office help or flunkeys, and people see nothing wrong with it. Yet, one has to be callous and ignorant not to see that the serve-for-sail practice demeans cadets and is a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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Celebrating old salts in paintings

On the great and sometimes crazy stage we call shipping, few players are more interesting than the old salts, the lobos de mar—men who cut their teeth on boats and know, as did Polish-British novelist and sea captain Joseph Conrad, that “there is nothing more enticing, disenchanting, and enslaving than the life at sea.” The following six iconic paintings shine […]

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Shipowners: vetting the training centres

I used to go café-hopping in Manila. I would check out the brewing equipment in a particular coffeehouse, chat with the baristas and find out what sort of coffee beans and water they used. Shouldn’t shipowners likewise vet the country’s maritime training centres? Bad coffee will only set a customer back by a few bucks; a badly trained seaman could […]

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