When in maritime Manila, expect the unexpected. You might hear words uttered that will jolt you and make you wonder if you’re watching an absurdist comedy. But it is no play. It is real life. And the people talking are real. The following are nine of the most shocking statements I have heard over the years as an observer of the local maritime scene,

A former manning agency owner on why he quit the business:

“It’s a dirty business.”

A manning CEO on manning agencies shaving off a peso or two from the prevailing foreign exchange for the family allotments of seafarers:

“It’s a small service fee.”

A manning CEO on using cadets as unpaid labour:

“You need to break them in.”

A maritime union leader on using cadets as unpaid office workers and domestic servants:

“Sisiw lang yan.”

(non-literal translation of the Filipino expression: “That’s a petty issue”)

A manning CEO on the salaries of ship officers:

“My ship officers are lucky. They receive higher salaries than my office managers.”

An expatriate crewing manager on Filipinos:

“Foreigners don’t trust Filipinos because they’re dishonest.”

A former shipyard executive on his womanising ways:

“I’m spreading my good genes.”

A 1980s head of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) on why illegal recruitment still continues:

“It’s a function of the economy.”

A high-ranking labour official on the murder in Japan of a Filipino japayuki:

“Huwag mong pansinin yun. Japayuki lang yan.”

(translation: “Ignore it. She’s just a japayuki”

~ Barista Uno

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