Just left the National Library where I dropped off some officemates and friends who were attending the 2-day Storytelling Workshop with Alitaptap Storytellers Philippines. This is along T.M. Kalaw St. If you pass here often, you will see a huge mass of men congregating in this area every day. They are sailors waiting for news about their placements in international shipping companies. They come here to get news, chat with friends, try out their luck.
The Philippines, along with India, are the world's largest source of maritime manpower. According to the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), one of out of 5 sailors in every ship plying the world's oceans is a Filipino. Most of our Filipino sailors are employed in Norwegian ships. They contribute the biggest share of the dollar remittances pie.
The Philippines began to institutionalize its formal maritime education in 1820 with the creation of the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy (PMMA) then called Escuela Nautica de Manila, a government maritime school. However, the proliferation of various maritime schools offering different maritime courses was noted during the early and mid-70’s when the demand for overseas seafarers rose dramatically. As of 2002, 76 out of 118 maritime schools in the country have fully complied with international standards in maritime education. (Source: MARINA)
A year ago, the City of Manila built a center for our sailors so they can stay here without having to suffer under the heat of the sun, among others. There are also cheap lodging houses where sailors from the provinces can temporarily stay in while they await the processing of their papers. Former model Iliac Diaz opened a similar dormitory in Intramuros.