Speech at Maritime Academy of Asia and the Pacific

18 November 2015


Santos, the President of this. The Vice-Presidents of the different departments here, who are with us this morning, and all of the faculty and staff. Of course, the Cadets, good morning to you all.

I have to say that I was very impressed. Of course, the simulators and all the equipment is also very impressive. I think I managed to run the. That is why it important that your training is complete. More impressing than all the electronic wizardry that we see, more impressive than all of the facilities here, is the system that you have put together to train our seamen to be prepared for the potentials that are available all around the world. As the Admiral has said, it is very clear that we in the Philippines have gained the reputation of being one of the best, if not the best seamen in the world. This reputation has not been gained easily. It took many, many, many years of the world experiencing the benefits of having Filipino seamen on board. It’s important especially for our continuing presence of all the different vessels that plied the world’s. It is very important that the training that we provide brings us up to the standard that is expected now. It is expected already of Filipino seamen. Mataas na ang standards na binibigay.I’m sorry, I’m only meant to speak in English.

The standards to which Filipino seamen are held to are higher that I would imagine than others because much more is expected of you. Much more is expected because of the good experience that both the ship owners and the other crew members have had with Filipinos. You should be very proud to be keeping up this tradition. You should be very proud that you are such an important part of the Filipino, never mind the economy, we know already that the economy...

The four hundred plus thousand Filipinos remitted last year, five billion US dollars. That is an impressive amount but as important as the dollars and cents that you will send back, that you will inject into the financial system into the economy is that continuing reputation. You all serve in your own way as ambassadors of the Philippines. You represent the Philippines when you are on boarding ships. I do not speak of ambassadors in terms of diplomacy, but again, to introduce what Filipinos are like, to introduce what Filipinos are capable of, and to teach our friends from different countries that the Filipino is hard working. The Filipino is well trained. The Filipino understands the systems. The Filipino will become an important part of any crew that they join. This is to continue the tradition that has been set over many, many, many years before even the term “OFW” existed.

We did not talk about OFW’s yet because the term “OFW” came in the mid 70’s. Before even that existed, already Filipino seamen were recognized abroad as the best seamen. That is why we comprise the largest number of seamen that serve in the merchant marine all around the world.

So I am very happy to see that not only are we of international standard in terms of the facilities, in terms of the training, in terms of even the results in your examinations, even in your certification, that the training continues to be, not only an international standard, but in this case, we can be proud to say, you are held to a higher standard, you are held to a Filipino standard. That has become the standard that all ship owners now are looking for.

I must congratulate all of those who are members of the faculty and the staff because of the impressive results that you get. The number of seafarers that you have trained and the continuing drive to keep a higher standard that is required. That is something very important.

So again, as we went to the briefing, it was very disappointing to know, to listen to the fact, that there seems to be a lack of recognition by the government in the important part that you all play again, not in our economy, but in our country and in our presence abroad.

We do not have enough training ships and I think we have convinced Congressman Martin Romualdez to donate his brother’s yacht. His brother still doesn’t know. We will have to tell him after we finish here. But that is something we have to continue to work towards because it is not a small item, it is something that needs to be again, we need to adopt a policy that is more supportive of all your efforts. With that, that is a continuing work that we have to do. We do not realize it because all of you are not in the Philippines. The work that you do, we do not see. So it is only coming to places that we are reminded of how many of you are out there putting forward the good face of the Filipinos and working and giving many real contribution to the Merchant Marine. So it is extremely important.

As they say, if you will study Management course, many would say that you should invest in the departments that are the most successful. By that job, by that measure, we should be investing more in facilities like MAAP, facilities that are still required, that are needed in training ships, in equipment, in maritime schools and in the continuing support of our seafarers.

So, I congratulate you all- all of the staff and the faculty of MAAP, and the Cadets for the continuing good work that you do and for continuing to make the Filipinos proud that they are Filipinos because we are always reminded that in the end, it is only our Filipinos who will put forward the good reputation, the good skills, the good qualities of what it means to be a Filipino. Keep up the good work and we are here to support you. Thank you.