A cat’s view of training centres in Manila


Frankie the Philosopher Cat asked to be let out of our house when the weather cleared up after two recent storms. He said he wanted to check out the maritime training centres in Manila. He was gone for a good three days, but we didn’t mind. Frankie is so perspicacious that he always comes back with some interesting stories. It’s the kind of stuff that one never gets to read in the maritime press.

Marine Café Blog
: Did you enjoy your outing?
Frankie: It was entertaining, to say the least. I sat in a class at one training centre and heard the instructor speak English the way it should not be spoken.

MCB: You mean the chap had an accent.
Frankie: No, I mean his English was bad – as in bad grammar and bad pronunciation.

MCB: Aren’t you being arrogant? Those folks are technical people. You can’t expect them to talk like the British Prime Minister.
Frankie: You’ve got a point there. I just wish some people would use Pilipino instead of mangling the English language.

MCB: So what’s your impression of the training centres?
Frankie: They make me think of fast food. So many outlets – at least 95 training centres nationwide – and some have more customers than your favourite coffeehouse.

MCB: Competition must be tough, I imagine.
Frankie: That’s an understatement. It’s cutthroat competition! I was told that to get ahead in the business a training centre had to play the “rebates” game.

MCB: Rebate as in discount to customers?
Frankie: The term is a euphemism for kickback. It’s common practice to give crewing managers a cash incentive every time they refer seafarers to a training centre.

MCB: That doesn’t seem right.
Frankie: Well.. if you ask me, those crewing managers are saints compared with your thieving senators.

MCB: Speaking of fast food, how’s the menu?
Frankie: Quality depends on who’s preparing and serving the menu items. One instructor of an introductory course on ECDIS said the end-goal of ECDIS training was “proper voyage planning”. Can you believe that? I won’t tell you about the Management Level Course (MLC) for ship officers. Your blood pressure might go up.

MCB: But I thought the government people have been regularly inspecting the training centres.
Frankie: Inspecting or collecting? Let’s make a distinction.

MCB: Surely there are some excellent training centres?
Frankie: There are actually a few in Metro Manila. I was told there were two good training facilities up in Subic. Unfortunately, buses are off limits to cats so I couldn’t visit the place. Most of the rest are like Vendo machines.

MCB: What do you mean?
Frankie: They push some button so you get your cold drink. Of course, you have to pay first at the counter.

~Barista Uno


Please feel free to comment on this article. You might also like:

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11 Replies to “A cat’s view of training centres in Manila”

  1. Michael B. Cuanzon

    Frankie did a very good general appraisal of the training centers. I wonder how Frankie would fare with a visit to the PRC (Professional Regulation Commission) and the walk-in-yet-scheduled exams and the sold slots.

  2. Reid Sprague

    Frankie’s wit is as sharp as his claws – fortunately, the menu didn’t give him indigestion! Bet he’s glad to be home, though, where the diet of information is healthier.

    It seems that an international staple of maritime education, at least for courses such as BST, is that no one ever fails. We’re apparently a pretty smart group, overall! Frankie should take that into consideration.


    • Barista Uno

      Thank you, Reid, for being such a fan of Frankie’s.

      I haven’t heard of anyone in Manila failing a training course. It makes you wonder if the local training centres really conduct a proper assessment of the trainees. Shoudn’t that be an integral part of any training programme?

  3. Teresa

    Hi Frankie, should have met you sooner had I not forgotten my password. Thanks for dropping by……It’s always a challenge to make an instructor out of our seafarers after all they are the only ones who can can teach that required skills. Unfortunately being skilled in the job (as seafarers) is not a guarantee that he can make others “do” it the way that it should be done (as teachers). They need to be prepared and to be guided in Instructional strategies.

    • leon somar

      Teresa a lot of instructor in training center who undergone this IMO Model course For teacher but only knows to operate power point display on screen but dont know nothing about subject matter. like marpol

    • Pat Smith

      Hi Teresa. It is my humble opinion that not only seafarers can teach many of these courses. Bridge management and situational awareness is , for example, very well taught by management experts. Some skills are generic as the same principles apply in any environment. Essential skills such as management and mentoring are “dumbed down” to suit the instructor and the perception that the mariner does not need them anyway – “in my day the Master’s word was law and you were born with command ability”. Navigation and stability are more often better taught by a qualified teacher with a major in science and mathematics than a mariner desperate to supplement his or her pension or unable to find a berth. There are definitely mariners who are excellent teachers and lecturers but not enough to sustain an industry desperately in need of an injection of pride and professionalism. And would such a professional seafarer be willing to work for the salary offered by a profit driven training provider without shipping out at the first opportunity to ensure consistency? And can the aspirant seafarer afford the prices charged by a profit driven training school that is forced to pay a market related salary to provide good training? Just a thought… Pat

  4. Capt Alex

    So typical. It is really about people that have overblown self image… The assumption that one can tutor an experienced seafarer on the ways of the sea, with the mentor not having that experience, ergo competence, is simply what that aphorism, “A little knowledge is dangerous.”, epitomizes.

    Just a second thought…

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