Myths about Pinoy Seamen

myths in seaman

We have seen this posters numerous times already , so many times that it’s no longer making any sense at all. This poster I saw on the internet is really interesting however this barely scratches the surface of the reality on being a Filipino sailor, It does provide a general detail but not the specifics and leaves a broader room for interpretation. Some of these facts reflect positive and others negatively and some doesn’t provide the reality.

LOADS OF MONEY – true on a financial basis that if you compare it via Philippine standards , Philippine money is way less than that of a U.S. Dollar (or even a Euro). Believe it or not purchasing power in the Philippines is bigger than western countries , and salaries for sailors are based in foreign pay (in U.S. dollars). In the Philippines a 900 U.S. Dollar for Salary for a sailor is a very big money but if you compare that salary in the united states – it is just only equal to a salary of a local fast food worker. If the Philippine peso had an equivalent to 1 : 1 to a U.S. dollar (currently its 45 : 1 dollar exchange) , You definitely don’t want to be a sailor anymore , chances are the 900 U.S. dollars would only just be an equivalent of 900 Philippine Peso , and you absolutely know how limited a 900 pesos goes in the Philippines .In other words LOADS OF MONEY because of the fundamental law of dollar exchange rate against the peso, it’s how weak the Philippine economy is.

Sailors have loads of money not because they are paid high , but by because of the exchange rate from Philippines versus foreign money. The salary of a sailor actually is equivalent to that of a construction worker overseas.

By the way salary is based to the rank of a sailor , Deck cadets are paid only dirt cheap !! (or none at all)

ALCOHOL 24 x 7 – liquor is absolute cheap in some cases , even way cheaper than a can of coca cola soft drink and not even the tough restriction of anti-alcohol policy is not enough to deter a sailor from drinking. Alcohol ban is implemented on board a ship but not a practice , more like a “necessary evil” in this community. For short – yes it’s a 24 / 7 drinking galore !

GIRLFRIEND IN EVERY PORT. – not exactly a girlfriend, but counts as a relationship in some extent, like sexual relationship that money is involved in the middle. This phrase is somewhat misprounced , the actual term for this should be “every prostitute in every port”. This is typically true especially if a sailor is stationed near south America, where sex trade seems to be very common (and suspect even legal). Thing here is this, ITS ALL ABOUT HUMAN NATURE – AND THIS INCLUDES SEX. All of them have been exposed to months not seeing any female at which includes their wives and real girlfriends in the Philippines, which results to them resorting to “paid” sex. Now a days this just happens only to sailors who get stationed in south America or in Asia .

Seamanloloko ????? Being direct – YES THAT IS ACTUALLY 150 PERCENT TRUE !!

ALWAYS SEASICK – This has two meanings , one is biological and other is psychological. Biological in the sense that there is no apparent cure for seasickness. A persons only best bet to alleviate this is that to hope a person’s body gets adjusted (or adapted) real quick on the environment. This may takes weeks or a month especially to new sailors, for the veterans – only takes a couple of hours to adjust and not that severe. Psychological part is that it means that sailors are lazy and use “Seasickness” as an excuse to get away from work, even though they’re already been sailors for decades.

DEALING WITH PIRATES EVERYDAY – The fact here is this , not all sailors nor even a majority of them get to be stationed on pirate infested areas. Only a small population of Filipino sailors get to deal with this and in only a short amount of time, not every day. In reality this is overly exaggerated accounts. The only thing you have to deal with here is the rude and lack of proper manners of fellow sailors – in particular our own kind .

There’s a saying : “the fiercest and most cold blooded maltreatment comes from one’s own kind”. That’s how Filipino seamans are in the actual work

GET TO SEE THE WORLD FOR FREE – this is the most common (and oldest) propaganda you see when you study the course Bachelor of Science in Marine Transportation. Most kids who study being sailor get confused with this 90 percent of the time, plus add more to the confusion is the quasi false “militaristic” kind of education propaganda and voila you got tons of enrolees per sem. Little do they know that after that a lot of injustice and maltreatment awaits them after they finished schooling such as NO GUARANTEED JOB ASSURANCE AND SECURITY (YOU WONT GET EMPLOYED UNLESS YOU HAVE A SPONSOR – backer for short) , UNDERPAID, OVER WORK AND EXPLOITED, AND WORST NO ACCESS TO A LAWYER OR LABOUR UNIONS. See the world free is just only half right since a ship goes around on all sorts of places, technically a sailor is basically imprisoned and trapped inside for the whole duration of the contract with little or no chance of going to shore and most of the time you’re not even allowed to go out . If there is – its only less than 5 hours overall. In reality it’s a slow painful death like prison.

Being a sailor in the Philippines isn’t exactly the most secured job around, its CONTRACTUAL WORKER.

GLAMOUROUS LIFE. – There is another misconception about being a sailor , true indeed that most of the sailors can afford stuff that most people can’t in the Philippines. They can afford that not because Filipino sailors salaries are paid high from the start but because of the Philippines PESO versus U.S. Dollar Difference (as what I mentioned earlier) . In the Philippines that U.S. dollar (or european euro) salary converted may mean a lot and can go a long way, In the U.S. and Europe that salary received by a sailor is nothing more than the standard pay for construction manual job which is not even enough to buy a thermal underwear for winter on the local store there.

6 MONTHS LAND AND 6 MONTHS AT SEA – Typically seafarers contracts ranges from 6 months to 10 months working in a ship, though there are some reports that Greek employers hold their crew even longer that lasted for years (and from what I heard the longest was 2 years) . Now if a person pictures himself being into prison on the that duration then you’d definitely know how ugly working of a sailor is., And after spending almost the whole year being imprison on a ship , you get only a relief of two months before again going back into prison er.. I mean working back on a ship and repeating the horror again – it’s like being in an environment with no TV, No letters, No internet – nothing to keep yourself occupied beyond work . That is the usual cycle of life of a sailor – rinse and repeat , you will miss and skip a lot of important things in life during that time like your marriage anniversary, you kids first birthday , etc. and as a result of being an absent and never there , a sailor’s life is nothing but a dysfunctional one.

UNEDUCATED FOOLS – This is somewhat half right. In some extent almost all Filipino sailors did have a formal education on the college level, But if you ask what kind of studies did he / she received in college or what kind of teaching methods are used and in practice there , then I could say it’s very limited and totally unrelated on the actual job practice. One such sample is that most sailors often tell as an excuse is that they study celestial navigation, marine engineers etc. – those lectures in reality doesn’t even come close compared to what doctors , lawyers, teachers or even engineers study on the course of his / her college time, as a matter of fact you can finish the this so called “college course within less than a year” (if your brain intelligence is equivalent to that of a “doctor” or even a lawyer) . It’s even debated that the college course of a sailor (bachelor of science in marine transportation) is not “bachelor of science” at all , in fact European countries consider education on sailors to be technical and vocational type – (doesn’t even pass for a four year college course)

As a sailor, a functioning brain is highly unnecessary on the job practice. If a sailor has a brain, it’s definitely not used for logical and analytic thinking like some other professional jobs do or even used for work at all. – Its only used for keeping him alive (like breathing and heartbeat pulse, similar to a zombie or a mindless insect drone). And if in a special case a sailor has some brains, chances are he / she should hid his talents otherwise some other co-worker sailors will get jealous because of this (see their primitive prehistoric brains 😉 )

FIGHTING WARS – This problem is not directly related and more of an indirectly problem. Earlier so called pioneers in maritime education in the Philippines came from fundamentalist militaristic schools (sort of like during the 1950’s era were seafaring job wasn’t even heard of back then). Despite this job being entirely civilian , it is often and always get confused with the branch of the military (navy).Being a pinoy seaman in reality has nothing to do with the military. We’re not soldiers, were not a foreign legion , or even come close to an armed militia . Seaman is nothing more and is always a construction / maintenance worker , of if you put it it’s a non-military and purely civilian work .If you look closely the closest classification of a “seaman” are more related to construction workers based in the middle east (and cousin based on my observation) , the only difference is that instead of dry desert , a “seaman” is on wet water surroundings and inside a huge machine (known as a ship). Both of these class of workers have the same type of equipment and even job hierarchy , and yes seaman also has a foreman and is just called in a different term called “bosun”.

The reason why pinoy seaman (or Marino) get confused often to the military is because of simple common terminologies shared in work, (I admit these technical terminologies is used in the military as well) . Beyond that there is nothing similar in anyway at all in being a seaman to a navy,

If we get to sign up on a contract, were given a set of working clothes and some protective industrial equipment – nothing more nothing less , Definitely not firearms , NO BDU’s (battle dress uniforms), Not anything that blows up stuff or hurt people.

GREAT SWIMMERS – Not all sailors are actually swimmers or even good in the water to begin with. Some sailors (such as myself) cannot swim at all , probably because we knew that once were in the water , that will be the end of us . So as much as possible we stay out of it. Working as a sailor you don’t get to actually get to work submerged on the water , you get to work on a ship which is basically floating on a water called sea – point here is that swimming skills are not necessary.

NOTHING TO DO AT SEA – being a sailor, a lot of people are basically wondering on what are we actually doing inside the ship and are led to believe that we are just doing nothing there but sit our fat ass the whole during the duration of the whole contract, and to make it more misleading is that pictures of sailors fed back in the Philippines are mostly stuff related to barbecue grills and food; making people think that were just there to eat , sleep and waste time.

Of course the ship is a 24/7 workplace and a lot of times you get to work on the weary hours of the night, and since it’s a 24/7 workplace it means that most of the time, there’s no holidays and the work sailors do are maintenance construction work.

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