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Filipino seafarer deployment posts historic plunge

Filipino seafarer deployment posts historic plunge

The overseas deployment of Filipino seafarers plummeted by 54% from 469,996 in 2019 to 217,223 in 2020, according to official government figures. This is the biggest drop ever for a single year. Hardest hit were hotel personnel for passenger ships (classified as ‘non-maritime’ but officially considered as seafarers). Their numbers declined by 64%. Deployment of ratings was down 44% with officers doing much better (only 0.48% lower). Is the bell tolling for Philippine manning?

Hopefully not. Obviously, the COVID-19 pandemic was the main trigger for the numbers decline. It would be naive, however, to think that other factors were not at play. Total seafarer deployment had dipped by 3% in 2019 — before the coronavirus went on a worldwide rampage. Interestingly, deployment of ratings was up 9% that year but was down by 32% for officers. What gives?

Two points may be worth considering. First, Filipino ship officers are becoming more expensive. The local manning agent of a large Asian boxship operator tells Marine Café Blog that the monthly pay for a Filipino master is currently averaging US$11,00-13,000. Chief engineers are paid a little less: US$9,000-11,000.

Second, some shipowners have been put off by what they see as the pro-seafarer stance of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC). Not too long ago, a German ship operator dumped its long-time crewing agency in Manila. The reason: one of the latter’s engineer-officers was awarded a sizeable sum for losing a finger in a shipboard accident.

The worst of times for Philippine seafarers and manning agents? Maybe so, but it could also be the best time for some deep soul-searching in Manila.

A blow-by-blow account of Filipino seafarer deployment and other relevant statistics


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~ Barista Uno

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Seascape paintings: Behold the clouds above!

Seascape paintings: Behold the clouds above!

The sea is the star of the show, so to speak, in a seascape painting. However, the area of the artwork that shows the sky and the clouds in particular is just as important. For the viewer not to give these elements enough attention is to do the painting and its creator a huge disservice.

Based on their shapes and colours, clouds indicate the atmospheric condiitions under which the sea moves and changes its appearance. They also serve as a kind of time stamp on the scene depicted. More importantly, from the aesthetic perspective, clouds and the rest of the sky contribute to the atmosphere of the work — that is, its pervading tone or mood.

The following seascapes show various kinds of clouds (click here to learn more about cloud types). As with any artwork, these paintings are best viewed in full-screen.

Clouds over the sea, calm, 1889
Ivan Ayvazovsky (Russian, 1817–1900)
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Seascape with Open Sky, 1860
Eugène Boudin (French, 1824-1898)
Courtesy of The Cleveland Museum of Art

The Beach at Sainte-Adresse, 1867
Claude Monet (French, 1840–1926)
Courtesy of the Google Art Institute

Cloud Study over the Sea
Hans Gude (Norwegian, 1825-1903)
Courtesy of Nasjonalmuseet (National Museum, Norway)

This unique learning aid from the UCAR Center for Science Education in Colorado, USA, uses paintings by famous artists to promote a better understanding of clouds.

Click on the image to download. >>>

Gathering Storm, 1899
Ivan Ayvazovsky (Russian, 1817–1900)
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Clearing Up–Coast of Sicily, 1847
Andreas Achenbach (German, 1815–1910)
Courtesy of The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, Maryland

Sunset on the Sea, 1872
John Frederick Kensett (American, 1816–1872)
Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Moonlight on Ocean (Kauai), c. 1918
Alfred Richard Gurrey, Sr. (English-born American, 1852-1944)
Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

~ Barista Uno

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Feeling the rain in Eastern and Western works of art

Feeling the rain in Eastern and Western works of art

Feeling the rain in Eastern and Western works of art

Some people understandably don’t like rainy weather. Rains can snarl up traffic, restrict movement and put one in a surly mood. Worse, they may trigger floods and cause havoc all around. Yet, as the following artworks reveal, there is something beautiful and even marvellous about the rain.

Raindrops keep fallin’ on my head
But that doesn’t mean my eyes will soon be turnin’ red
Cryin’s not for me
‘Cause I’m never gonna stop the rain by complainin’
Because I’m free
Nothing’s worryin’

— from the 1969 song, ‘Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head’ by B.J. Thomas

Spring Rain at Tsuchiyama (50th Station of the Tokaido), 1797–1858
Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797–1858)
Woodblock print; ink and colour on paper
Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Ochanomizu in the Rain, mid-19th century
Utagawa Kuniyoshi (Japanese, 1797–1861)
Woodblock print; ink and colour on paper
Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Night Rain at the Azuma Shrine (from the series Eight Views of the Environs of Edo), mid-1830s
Utagawa Hiroshige (Japanese, 1797–1858)
Colour woodblock print
Courtesy of The Cleveland Museum of Art

Spring Rain by the Okawa River Bridge: The Ferry near the Stables, c. 1884
Kobayashi Kiyochika (Japan, 1847–1915)
Colour woodblock print
Courtesy of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Misty Rain on the River in Spring, Qing dynasty (1644–1911)
Wu Shixian (Chinese, ?–1916)
Folding fan mounted as an album leaf; ink on gold-flecked paper
Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Rain and Sunshine, Dordrecht, undated
Tina Blau (Austrian, 1845–1916)
Oil on panel
Courtesy of Dorotheum Online Auctions

Rain on Thames, c. 1913
Bertha E. Jaques (American, 1863–1941)
Courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum

Rainstorm over the Sea, 1824–1828
John Constable (English, 1776–1837) 
Oil on paper
Courtesy of WikiArt: Visual Art Encyclopedia

The Sea—Studies of Waves: Wave in the Rain, 1890
Henri Rivière (French, 1864–1951)
Colour woodcut
Courtesy of The Cleveland Museum of Art

The Manneport, Etretat in the Rain, 1886
Claude Monet (French, 1840–1926)
Oil on canvas
Courtesy of WikiArt: Visual Art Encyclopedia

Verbs that speak loudly about the abuse of seafarers

Verbs that speak loudly about the abuse of seafarers

It’s interesting how the plight of seafarers can be encapsulated in a single word. The following list of transitive verbs (or action words with a direct object) provides good examples. The words tell some of the ways seafarers are exploited or mistreated. For each one, I have given a definition with specific reference to those who work at sea and for whom so many words of sympathy are spun by the bleeding hearts in shipping.

abandon: to stop providing support to a ship’s crew and letting them fend for themselves without pay and necessary provisions

They were all on the brink of starvation after being abandoned by the vessel’s owner.

blacklist: to put a seafarer on a list of those who are undesirable and shouldn’t be hired

The poor chap got blacklisted for reporting shipboard malpracitces to the ITF.

defraud: to take money illegally from seafarers through deception

The manning agent defrauded applicants with false promises of employment.

deprive: to prevent a seafarer from having or enjoying something, especially something which is necessary or to which he is entitled

Seafarers are deprived of free online access to the full text of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW).

exploit: to use seafarers for one’s own selfish end or benefit (usually financial)

Some maritime unions are the first to exploit seafarers.

harass: to subject a seafarer to initimidation, uncalled-for pressure or hostile remarks over a period of time

The able-seaman was continually harassed by the despotic captain.

hoodwink: to deceive or trick a seafarer

The cadet was hoodwinked into believing that he could sail in just a few weeks if he served as unpaid errand boy in the agency.

intimidate: to frighten a seafarer with threats so he will comply with what one wishes him to do or not do

The ship’s crew was intimidated into silence regarding the many abuses on board.

short-change: to cheat seafarers by giving them less money than what they should receive (in ordinary usage, to give a buyer less change than what he should get)

The manning agent routinely short-changed the crew in the conversion of their dollar remittances to the local currency.

skim: to steal money from seafarers in small amounts over time so that the stealing is not so obvious

They thought nothing of skimming money from seafarers’ remittances.

stonewall: to give a seafarer a hard time by refusing to answer questions or by being evasive in order to delay or obstruct

His manning agency stonewalled him every time he followed up his claim for back wages

~ Barista Uno

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[UPDATED] A litany of sins against seafarers, on land and at sea

[UPDATED] A litany of sins against seafarers, on land and at sea

Updated on 12th July 2021 with additional items to the lists and some editing. The original article appeared in Marine Café Blog on 13th April 2021.

There is never a dearth of news reports about seafarers being cheated, taken advantage of, oppressed and otherwise maltreated. The whole thing goes on and on, in spite of the many bleeding hearts in shipping. The following is a list of the myriad ways in which the rights of mariners are violated, both on land and at sea. Ironically, some are being overlooked or ignored by the maritime press and by those who profess love and compassion for seafarers.

On  shore

> Imposition of unnecessary or redundant training courses

> Substandard training instruction and facilities

> Selling of training certificates

> Bureaucratic red tape

> Corruption in maritime regulatory agencies

> Illegal exaction of fees by crewing agencies

> Demanding gifts from returning seafarers

> Use of cadets as unpaid office workers and domestic servants

> Stonewalling on the release of death and disability benefits

> Favouritism in the hiring of crews

> Blacklisting of seafarers who report abuses to the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF)

> Restricting by legilation or by other means the ability of seafarrs to file tort claims against shipowners for injuries resulting from accidents

> Discourtesy and racial profiling by airport customs and immigration

> Cheating by dishonest manning agents in the conversion of seafarers’ dollar remittances to the local currency

> Undue delays in the release of family allotments

> Clandestine investment of moneys due to seafarers by manning agents who pocket the interest earned

> Ambulance chasing and aggressive promotion of legal services by lawyers

> Excessive lawyer’s share (as much as 30-40%) of moneys awarded to seafarers in cases involving disability and claims for back wages and other money claims

> Unethical practices by profit-minded doctors and medical clinics

> Practice by some unions of collecting membership and other fees from seafarers without giving them tangible services and benefits in return

> Unions playing footsie with manning agents to the detriment of seafarers

> Empty slogans and speeches in praise of seafarers

At sea

> Slow action to repatriate seafarers during the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving thousands stranded in foreign ports and harbours

> Inadequate food and poor accommodations on board

> Mishandling of the food budget for ship’s crew by dishonest masters

> Non-observance of mandated rest hours

> Overburdening ship officers with paper work

> Usurpation of ship master’s duties and powers by shore managers

> Late payment or non-payment of wages

> Non-payment of overtime/holiday pay

> Double-payrolling

> Mistreatment of Third World officers and crew by foreign senior officers

> Manning of ships below the required minimum levels

> Operation of unseaworthy vessels

> Lack of safety appliances

> Abandonment of crews by shipowners

> Sexism and sexual harassment

> Shipboard bullying

> Denial of shore leave

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~ Barista Uno

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