Marine Café Blog recently detailed how Filipino seafarers were being short-changed big time on their remittances. Yet, despite the scale of the problem, the press has not deigned to take up the issue. Nor have I heard the seafarer unions and the bleeding-heart maritime NGOs openly condemn the cheating. The same was true when I first wrote in 2013 about Manila’s maritime flunkeys — i.e., cadets who work as unpaid labour for manning agencies and unions. Why the silence?
Enough of the empty slogans. A meaningful, and certainly more creative, way to pay tribute to those who work at sea is through music and song. The following videos feature some of the best songs on YouTube about old sailors and fishermen — those hardy spirits who cut their teeth on boats and have spent many years at sea.
Old age is a topic most people want to avoid. It is almost taboo to talk about it in a materialistic society where youth is admired like some kind of jewel. Sooner or later, however, old age — frequently defined as 60 or 65 years of age or older — will come as surely as the ocean tide will kiss the shore. The following quotes may provide some consolation or even inspiration to those who have reached, or are about to reach, this stage in the voyage we call Life.
I have posted so many articles about marine art that I have now lost count. So it’s about time that I wrote about my personal approach to the subject. I have no pretensions to being an art critic, much less an art historian. But I do have a passion for art that started in my late teens. The world of marine art is so vast that I have to continue educating myself. With that in mind, I should lke to share some tips for appreciating marine art, most of them applicable to art in general.
Let’s face it. The ships of today can’t hold a candle to the splendour of the sailing vessels that used to roam the oceans. Certainly not the monstrous mega cruise ships or the dreary container ships often celebrated in the shipping world. Here’s a nostalgic look at the former beauties of the sea as portrayed by various artists.
Beauty, it is often said, is in the eye of the beholder. Maybe so, but I don’t derive any aesthetic pleasure from looking at mega cruise ships. I consider these multi-storey floating hotels to be eyesores. At best, they look like stodgy assemblages of Lego bricks; at worst, monstrous structures of steel and glass. The following photographs will illustrate my point.
In a recent post, I showed how Filipino seafarers were being short-changed big time on their dollar remittances. How could such brazen cheating by unscrupulous manning agents be allowed to happen? I share the anguish and anger of those affected, so I have published a free guide which I hope will benefit seafarers everywhere.
In this guest article, maritime training expert Captain Richard Teo takes a hard look at the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW) and the accompanying Code. He identifies some shortfalls and bats for a paradigm shift that would place greater emphasis on competence-based training and assessment. Captain Teo is a fellow at the Royal Institution Singapore/Manila; visiting lecturer at the Australian Maritime College (University of Tasmania); and Board member at GlobalMET.
In 2019 Filipino seafarers sent home a whopping $6,539,246,000. The amount represents 80% of their basic salaries, which is required by law to be remitted as family allotments and paid in Philippine currency. Alas, not all of the money went to the families. Unscrupulous manning agents got to keep part of it by using an exchange rate that is usually a peso lower than the official rate of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (Central Bank of the Philippines).
In a June 2018 post, I described how Filipino seafarers were being shortchanged in the conversion of their dollar remittances to pesos. Manning agents shave off at least one peso from the foreign exchange rate. Naturally, the families of seafarers get less than what they should. It is a form of thievery that has gone on for decades. And it will go on ad infinitum for a very simple reason: the rules make the scheme possible.
Rivers are a popular theme in traditional Chinese art and poetry. This should come as no surprise. According to the first national census of water, China had 22,909 rivers which had catchment areas of at least 100 sq. kilometres at end-2011. The longest of the seven major rivers — the Yangtze River (6,397 kms.) and the Yellow River (5,464 kms.) — were cradles of Chinese civilisation. Thousands of rivers are thought to have disappeared before the 2010-2011 census was taken. The culprits: rapid economic development, misuse and climate change. But China’s rivers will never really die. They have been immortalised in paintings and poems.
All seafarers live under a curse. It is called revalidation. “Why the hell do I need to have my certificate revalidated?” Every seafarer must have asked the question at one time or another. It’s a fair question to ask. Neither knowledge nor experience has an expiry date. And yet, in many cases seafarers must show evidence every five years that they have maintained the standards of competence under the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW).
Why anyone would want to linger inside a mall mystifies me. Malls are cold and boring, even dispiriting. There is more life, more energy on the piers and wharves as the following old photographs show. Time has taken its toll on some of these pictures. Yet each one still speaks volumes about the vibrancy of commerce on the waterfront and the sedulous stevedores who keep the cargoes moving.