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AMOSUP celebrates its 61st anniversary


The Union salutes and celebrates Filipino seafarers in different parts of the world in recognition of their vital role in the industry. “That’s why we continue to fight for your rights and welfare through programme and links with government, employers and social partners,” says Dr Conrado Oca in his anniversary message  

AMOSUP celebrated its 61st founding anniversary last November on virtual mode in observance of the health and safety protocols that bar mass gathering.

But despite of the absence of seafarers’ physical presence for the annual assembly, celebratory mood persisted as members and dependents joined the special occasion through social media via Zoom and on Facebook at the AMOSUP Official Group.

With the theme: Tibay at Tatag ng Pilipinong Mandaragat (Resilience and Endurance of the Filipino Seafarer) the celebration last 11 November made hundreds of union members and their dependents enjoy the usual festivity that the maritime union used to organize for seafarers pre-pandemic.

Song and dance numbers, contests and games with a lot of prizes, e-raffles and more prizes put participants and viewers glued into the programme throughout the online celebration. They were given the chance to pre-register to join the e-raffles that included cash and in-kind prizes such as 10 units of 32-inch television sets.

President’s Message

AMOSUP president Dr Conrado Oca said: “Napakarami na nating napagdaanan sa loob ng higit anim na dekada, pero pinakamatinding pagsubok na yata itong covid-19 pandemic. Napakalaking hamon sa kalusugan at hanapbuhay lalung-lalo na ang crew change crisis na naging dahilan kaya libu-libo ang napahaba ang kontrata. May mga stranded sa lupa at napakaraming matagal naghintay bago nakasampa muli ng barko.”

(We’ve been through a lot over the last six decades, but I think this COVID-19 pandemic has been the most arduous. It posed tremendous challenges on our health and livelihood, especially the crew change crisis that left thousands of seafarers going on extended contracts. Many were stranded ashore and waited so long to find jobs on board ships.)

But in spite of all these, Dr Oca said, the Filipino seafarers have shown stability and endurance at work. “Kaming lahat sa AMOSUP ay saludo sa inyo at lubos ang aming pagkilala at pagpupugay sa bawat marinero at marinera sa iba’t ibang panig ng mundo.

Patuloy naming sinisikap na ipaglaban kayo – ang inyong karapatan at kapakanan sa pamamagitan ng mga programa at ugnayan namin ng gobyerno mga employer, at iba pang social partners.”

(We at AMOSUP salute you and we recognize and honor each mariner in different parts of the world. We continue to fight for your rights and welfare through our programs and collaboration with the government, employers and social partners.”)

Show host Bien Carlo Galapon, aka ‘DJ Tano’ of Radio Atraka and alumnus of the Maritime Academy of Asia and the Pacific (MAAP), along with seafarer-vlogger Byahe ni Edward stirred the programme into two and half hour of entertainment online that showcased talents amongst Filipino seafarers who sent clips of their songs and dance performances both on board and ashore.

Seafarers ‘Got Talent’

The seafarers ‘Got Talent’ contests commanded prizes at: PhP10,000 for the first place, PhP7,000 and PhP4,000 for second and third places, respectively. The seafarers performed on board their respective ships.

A panel of seafarers and AMOSUP Officers reviewed and judged the entries, while another MAAP alumnus, Elija Barios edited and put together the entries and turned it into a heartwarming video showcasing the strength, resilience, passion and sacrifices of seafarers amidst the pandemic. The video was also presented during the program.

With the theme ‘Kwentong Pandemya,’ the essay writing competition winner went to Marcial Castillo for the piece “Daluyong at Pag-asa” for the first prize. Jaime Acar’s ‘Kwentong Pandemya’ and Jovane Madera’s ‘We are positive’, respectively took the second and third prizes.

In the photography competition, Van Alfred Villanueva won the first prize, Verculo Gonzaga ranked second, and Mark Luis Seducol won the third prize.

Entries for Tiktok video competition saw Jayson Bugtong in the first place, and Rasclven Bedia and Tiboyz at second and third places, respectively.

Finally, Wenchel Manzo emerged as the first prize winner in the original song writing and music video competition, while Raymund Ausente bagged the second prize and Horace Gacotano placed third. SF

Tiktok video competition winner: Our bond; It takes boredom away

Talent amongst cruise ship workers truly runs aplenty. Whether on the gangway, ship deck or in the machinery, you can see them the way they execute their dance moves during the recent Tik tok video competition at the AMOSUP 61st founding anniversary celebration.

Jayson Bugtong, a hotel utility worker on the NCL cruise Norwegian Sky and whose group won the Tiktok competition, says working on a cruise ship gives him and others the chance to see and work with a lot of talented shipmates who would “find ways to entertain fellow crew through Tik tok dances” during their free time.

Jason recounts, “most of our talents get showcased during crew parties.” Since his previous ship was still on skeletal manning due to the pandemic, they made a lot of physical activities like Zumba dance, jogging, running, aside from Tik tok on the ship’s promenade deck.

“Tiktok is one way of our great bonding as well,” he said. It is one of their means to lessen the nagging boredom in the work place as their fellow crew would always find the chance to entertain each other.

Jason started working as a seafarer in 2019. He says working in the maritime industry is his “greatest dream job.”

Prior to joining the cruise line, Jason was working at an allied field ashore in a five-star hotel in Manila, which served as his stepping stone to join an international passenger ship.

Initially, “I applied for a job and got employed for eight years in a five-star hotel.” It was the golden ticket that enabled him to seek employment from different shipping agencies in Manila that handle cruises. Finally, he achieved his goal.

Jason admitted that he started quite late in the maritime profession, but he feels very much accomplished. “I already fulfilled my dream job,” he said.

He signed off from the Norwegian Sky on 28 September 2021. He was scheduled to join again on the same ship the following month. He just came home and was getting quarantined in a government facility when Sailing Forward reached the Tik toker. He said he would be taken into isolation again for 10 days once he joins the ship abroad as part of the company’s health protocols.SF

Songwriting composition and music video winner: Each line tells our real life on board

This song, written by Electro-technical Officer Wenchell Manzo (pictured), is dedicated to all seafarers who work and strive hard to give their family a better life.

Wenchell, who bagged the first prize in the original song writing composition and music video at the 61st AMOSUP founding anniversary celebration, said his winning song is for non-seafarers too: For them to learn about mariners’ life on board.

“It’s not a joke to work on the ship and not that easy to be away with our family,” he said.

It’s his first attempt into song writing composition. But he seems to have appreciated and enjoyed it as he blended the melody into a combo of rap and pop genres.

“It was fun at first until it became even more exciting at the end because every line is taken from real life situation on board,” Wenchell noted.

He said all of the crew on board were excited to watch it (music video), but they only saw half of it yet. “I love my crewmates because they are cooperative especially our Captain and Chief Engineer. I did not expect to win this but everybody is excited for us to win, but yes indeed, we did it.”

Wenchell started his seafaring career after his training at Wartsila/Gigamare as a cadet in 2013. Then he embarked on board his first vessel, — a containership –  the following year.

He said seafaring was not his career choice but his dream to give his family a new home led him to join the maritime profession. “Since birth we’ve always been renting as we’ve moved to more than 10 flats already.” Since he started his seagoing career, he has always known he’s about to build his family’s dream home.

An electrical engineer by profession, Wenchell shifted career at sea to an ETO on board the ship. “I’m very grateful to someone who encouraged me to change my career into the maritime profession,” counted Wenchell.

He signed off from the ship in October 2021, and would be signing-on his next contract soon. SF

Photography contest winner wants  to tell more stories visually, verbally

Van Alfred Villanueva (pictured here), winner of the photography competition during the AMOSUP 61st founding anniversary, is a deck cadet on board a multi-purpose vessel. He took his winning shot of a crewmember who was working aloft for the first time, painting the ship funnel.

Villanueva said he took the shot because “I want to show the reality of life on board, where merchant mariners may have the best kind of life and that they travel the world for free, but behind those are stories of sacrifice and gallantry which people know less of.”

This was also what goes on in my mind when I took the photo, he said.  Villanueva admits to be an amateur photographer hoping to become a professional someday. He really loves taking photos even before starting to get on board the ship.

“Because for me, these are the ones that never change. I want to tell more stories, be it visually or verbally,” he shared. In the midst of finishing his deck cadet programme on board with the Maritime Academy of Asia and the Pacific (MAAP), Villanueva was already 10 months on board the ship and about to sign off in January 2022 when Sailing Forward contacted him last November.

He will then return to the academy to finish his last year of schooling after his year-long on board training. Villanueva wants to finish his maritime course because he firmly believes that “this profession is noble and gilt-edged.”SF