The COVID-19 pandemic may have put a damper on the ‘Day of the Seafarer’ celebration (25th of June). Still, the well-worn expressions of love and concern for the men and women who work at sea have kept flowing. It is an annual act the International Maritime Organization wants everyone to get into — and many are complying. Amid the brouhaha, has anyone asked why the event is spearheaded by the IMO and not by the International Labour Organization (ILO)?
It has been my custom to publish a list of maritime wishes for the New Year. The following are 10 such wishes I had made in previous years. All remain unfulfilled. They lie like dead seashells on the shore, which hardly surprises me. Old habits die hard, as the saying goes, and many in the maritime world are creatures of habit. Be that as it may, I still believe in dreams and wishes. A happy and peaceful 2021 to all of Marine Café Blog’s readers and supporters.
Yesterday, the 20th of December, was the 33rd anniversary of the Doña Paz ferry tragedy. As usual, the event whizzed past most Filipinos like a fart in the wind. There was hardly any mention of it on social and news media. As I wrote more than 10 years ago, “Filipinos have such short memories and Philippine ship operators have amnesia.”
If endurance were all that mattered, I should pat myself on the back and make whoopee. Marine Café Blog turns eleven this 25th of August. It has lasted despite being totally independent; despite the scarcity of advertising support; and despite the generally cold-hearted response from folks in maritime Manila. However, to withstand the vicissitudes of writing, to simply endure, isn’t enough.
These are not the best times for America. The nation has been ravaged by the coronavirus and rent by racial divisions. For all this, Americans have good reason to celebrate the 4th of July in a big way. As John Adams, the second president of the United States, wrote:
‘It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.’ (Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 3 July 1776)
One of the most beautiful tributes to mothers I have come across is a poem by Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral (1889—1957). It is entitled ‘Caricia’ (meaning “Caress” in English). The short poem has a power of emotion that shines through Mistral’s simple, down-to-earth language. The last line makes a reference to the sea, which makes this a wonderful Mother’s Day read for those who miss the sand and salt water.
With so much din and clamour over seafarers’ rights, many people could be forgetting that the exploitation of child is a far greater problem. The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that 152 million are victims of child labour worldwide (see the ILO facts and figures here). The following 19th-century paintings should serve as a Labour Day reminder of this ugly ever-present reality.
The German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe famously wrote: “Who is the wisest man? He who neither knows or wishes for anything else than what happens.” Maybe so, but what is a new year or life itself without wishes?
The end of 2019 is more than a fortnight away. But as the old saying goes, time and tide wait for no man. So I thought I would try to get ahead of the sweeping tide (impossible as that may seem) and share some quotations about time. I trust that these will serve as food for thought and a source of inspiration for all ye readers of Marine Café Blog.
Marine Café Blog is now on its 11th year, having turned a decade old on 25th August 2019. Instead of looking back, I would much rather talk about things to come. As H.G. Wells said in his 1902 philosophical lecture, The Discovery of the Future: “It is possible to...
To be honest, I have never celebrated the ‘Day of the Seafarer’ as the whole shipping world does every 25th of June. I have always felt that the event is fraudulent, an anomaly. I explained why in June 2018 in my blog post, A refusal to observe ‘Day of the Seafarer’:...
The Notre Dame Cathedral fire on 15th April 2019 overshadowed another huge event that occurred on the same day 107 years ago: the sinking of the RMS Titanic. Still, the world remembered the tragedy that befell the British passenger liner (pictured above prior to its...