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The maritime union’s top officers, President Dr Conrado Oca and EVP Vice Admiral Eduardo Santos, extend their messages of “pasasalamat and pagkilala” (thanksgiving and recognition) to the members and social partners who have made things possible

The Associated Marine Officers’ and Seamen’s Union of the Philippines (AMOSUP) celebrated its 60th founding anniversary last 11th November 2020.

In the six decades since Captain Gregorio S Oca and his colleagues founded the organisation in 1960, AMOSUP has grown to be the largest maritime union, not only in the Philippines but in the Asia Pacific region as well.

Over the last 60 years, the union has continued to fight for the social, legal and moral rights of its members that have been attested by the expansion of health and social benefits amongst member seafarers and their families across the country.

Medical and social benefits
With the modernisation of Seamen’s Hospital Manila, along with the expansion of the chain of hospitals in the provinces, such as Cebu, Iloilo, Davao and Dagupan, members receive their essential medical and health care. Additionally, a new hospital in Bacolod will soon open its doors as AMOSUP began constructing its extension facility for members and dependents in the Negros Occidental province.

In social and retirement welfare, qualified members are entitled to the provident fund, sailor’s home, slop chest, and other welfare and mutual benefit funds.

In his message to members during the celebration after a holy mass, President Dr Conrado F Oca said: “We at AMOSUP appreciate and value you in the union. We are grateful for you and the work you do – your hard work and sacrifice. As we reach our 60th year since our founder Captain Gregorio Oca established AMOSUP, we still uphold our mission to serve you and to champion your rights and welfare.”

The pandemic may have averted the union’s plan of an elaborate celebration this year. Yet, despite these challenging times, it has channeled more efforts to serving the members especially those who were stranded during the Luzon-wide lockdown in the peak of pandemic.

The Union has also allowed members avail of early withdrawal from their provident fund as part of the financial support to their families during the crisis. Likewise, AMOSUP is doing its part to assist over-contracted seafarers serving on board to be relieved by those waiting ashore following many months of travel restrictions in many parts of the world due to the pandemic.

“Marami pong hirap na hirap na mandaragat na nasa laot ngayon na hindi makauwi dahil sa pandemya. Subalit kami po sa AMOSUP ay hindi tumatalikod sa aming obligasyon. Marami po kaming ginagawa upang kayo’y makauwi. Marami kaming mga programa na ginagawa together with ITF at iba pang organisasyon. Lahat po tayo ay apektado ng pandemya. But I’m sure makakabangon din tayo sa pandemyang ito.” (Many seafarers are distressed at sea, unable to go home due to the pandemic. However, we at AMOSUP are not turning our back on our obligation. We are doing everything we could to get you home. Together with the ITF and other organisations, we are coming up with various programmes. We’re all affected by this pandemic. But I’m sure we’ll get through this pandemic.),” Dr Oca said.

More abilities and talents leveled up
It is not only the services the union provides to its members that have improved over the years, but also the abilities and talents of future ship officers at its Maritime Academy of Asia and the Pacific (MAAP).

MAAP president and AMOSUP EVP, Vice Admiral Eduardo Santos, remarked: “Because of your greatness we are preferred by shipowners and social partners.” He stressed that the union has come a long way into bringing a lot of its plans into fruition, saying: “a lot of people helped and served its founder Captain Gregorio Oca in the old days.”

“Marami rin pong tumulong upang tayoý makapag umpisa ng mahusay. Tama rin naman at ang mga inumpisahan [mga proyekto] ng ating mga pinuno ay lahat sumikat, gumaling at lalo pang pinaigting nang dumating si Dr Oca,” (Many have helped us to commence well. It was just right since all [the projects] our leaders have started became recognized, have been impressive, and even became much better when Dr Oca took over), VAdm Santos said.

He cited, for instance, how the number of AMOSUP-owned and run buildings on Cabildo Street had increased over the years for such well-planned endeavours for seafarers. “Kulang na lang ipangalan sa kalye ay Captain Gregorio Oca Street. Ayaw nga lang ng City of Manila,” (The only thing that’s missing is to name the street after Captain Gregorio Oca. But the City of Manila doesn’t approve of it), chided VAdm Santos.

Some of AMOSUP’s facilities and structures in the historic Intramuros include the Seamen’s Hospital Manila and its Annex South Wing Building, Professional Career Development Centre (PCDC), AMOSUP Seamen’s Centre, Sailor’s Home, Sailor’s Home Annex, Seafarer’s House, and the soon-to-rise Sailor’s Home Annex I.

The Union’s leaders said celebrating anniversary is also a chance for thanksgiving, hence, the union extends its utmost gratitude to the members, social partners, and to everyone who made all these accomplishments possible. SF