MANILA – The Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), in collaboration with all of its Regional Offices and maritime stakeholders, commemorates the Day of the Filipino Seafarer with a ceremony held at the MIDAS Hotel in Pasay City on June 25, 2022, reflecting this year’s theme, ‘Your voyage – then and now, share your journey.’

This year’s Seafarers Day celebration spotlights #SeafarerJourney which calls for all seafarers to share their voyage stories, then and now, as the world and the working environment transitions to different changes.

This annual event which was first observed in 2011, pays tribute to the lifeblood of sea trade, the seafarers, in recognition of their invaluable contribution to international trade and the world economy, oftentimes involving extreme risks for them and their families.

During the celebration, Filipino seafarers and maritime stakeholders around the world witnessed the showcase of talents, video messages from stakeholders, simultaneous mass oath-taking of Merchant Marine Officers in Manila, Iloilo, Cebu, and Davao, as well as the launching of the Search for Exceptional Bravery at Sea Awardees to be recognized during the National Maritime Week (NMW) Celebration coming September.

The first part of the program started with the judging and presentation of the winners in the 2022 MARINA Tiktok Challenge for Filipino seafarers, which reflected their journey on the high seas. The said competition served as the channel for Filipino seafarers to share their personal stories and connected journeys while traversing the surging tides of life and sea.

After the entrance of colors from the Corps of Cadets of the Maritime Academy of Asia and the Pacific (MAAP), STCW Office Deputy Executive Director Capt. Jeffrey P. Solon delivered his heartwarming welcome address to all the Filipino seafarers around the world. “For the first time in almost 3 years of being devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, I am honored to welcome everyone on this very special occasion: Day of the Seafarer 2022… This year’s theme accentuates how our seafarers have made it through since their maiden voyage and how they have been sailing through their journey as maritime professionals. This reminds us that even with adversity that is entailed in a seafarer’s job they remain steadfast in the fulfilment of their sworn duties.”, Capt. Solon stated.

In this year’s celebration, International Maritime Organization (IMO) Secretary-General, Mr. Kitack Lim expressed that every seafarer’s journey is unique; yet many of the challenges and opportunities are shared. “On this Day of the Seafarer, we can look to the future. Seafarer’s voyages are changing – in the form of new technologies and equipment, increasing use of alternative fuels and further responsibilities for a greener and more sustainable future for the industry and for the marine environment”, goes his virtual message.

After a two-year lapse due to the COVID-19 pandemic, MARINA celebrated the voyage and success journey of Filipino Merchant Marine Officers through the revived Oath Taking Ceremony which was graced by the Undersecretary for Maritime of the Department of Transportation (DOTR), CG ADM George V Ursabia Jr., representing DOTR Secretary Arthur P. Tugade. Donning of shoulder boards to the seafarer officers by their beloved was also one of the heartfelt moments in the ceremony. It is a representation of bequeathing the future responsibilities of officers for the future of the oceans and sea trades.

With yet another inspiring message, MARINA Administrator VADM Robert A Empedrad addressed the maritime stakeholders, MARINA employees and most importantly, the seafarers and their families who came to witness their beloved seafarer’s journey of success. He emphasized the hardships of the Filipino seafarers, most especially during the last two years of global health crisis, notwithstanding their own health risks and their family’s. Once and again, VADM Empedrad expressed his gratitude to all government instrumentalities and entities who helped realize the fair future for seafarers, through the vaccination program, during last year’s celebration of the Day of the Seafarers.

The Administrator reminded everyone that these modern-day heroes encounter different stories while braving the high seas, some are wonderful and most are painful. Hence, he campaigns for a more neighborly and welcoming companionship for all seafarers who, most often than not, are victims of inhumane treatment, even losing their lives while serving and saving other’s. “Your team MARINA will always provide you with our brand of selfless service…We will serve you as well sacrificially…We will, as long as I am your Administrator, make your service our primary concern…because life won’t be life without you.”

Encouraging the seafarers to bravely ply the oceans in the name of humble service for humanity, he ended his speech with a verse from Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you, said the Lord, be strong and of good courage, do not be afraid, or be dismayed for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

DOTR Sec. Tugade congratulated the seafarers for the dignity and honor they bring to the maritime profession, through his message delivered by CG ADM Ursabia. The message was also centered on his appreciation to the seafarers’ huge role in the domestic and international economy.

“Seafarers are one of the most hard working professions, hardly hit by the pandemic. In order to address the call for humanitarian and safety crises happening in the global shipping community, the DOTR responded to the call of the IMO to take concrete and immediate action during the onset of the pandemic…”, Tugade’s message goes. The DOTR will continue its commitment of looking after the welfare of the seafarers regardless of their nationalities and provide the best form of service there is to make their lives easier and better.

Urging all maritime stakeholders and seafarers’ families, he added, “We should care for our seafarers and be proud of them…”

The Search for the Ten (10) Exceptional Bravery at Sea Awardees was also announced in conjunction with the Day of the Seafarer 2022. This online search is looking for Filipino seafarers who have displayed exceptional bravery to save life/lives and/or prevented damage to sea vessel, cargo/property, or the maritime environment during events that occurred from August 2021 and June 2022.

The celebration was successfully concluded by the signing of Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) between the MARINA and the Kongsberg Digital AS, and the Seaversity, Inc. with an end goal of delivering a globally competitive Philippine maritime industry.

MARINA Administrator VADM Empedrad, Mr. Morten Hasas, SVP for Maritime Simulation of Kongsberg Digital AS, and Engr. Ephrem S. Dela Cerna, Jr., CEO of Seaversity, Inc. each signed said MoUs, with witnesses OIC-Deputy Administrator for Planning, Ms. Sonia B. Malaluan, STCWO DED Capt. Solon, and LCDR. Sergio S Sarno PN (Ret), Seaversity Business Development Director.