A new visual series by Seafarer Asia, Kumusta, Kabaro? Kumusta, Kaibigan? gives viewers gritty glimpses into the lives of Filipino seafarers and their kin. True tales of love, pride, sacrifice, failure and success weave a living tapestry and an oral history of life at sea. The subjects are given free rein on what to share and how they wish to be photographed. The series is inspired by the popular photoblog, Humans of New York.

Cagn Matthew Goyena, 19, 2CL Midshipman

“Only when freedom is taken from you do realize its full value. Here at MAAP, new cadets have a saying: I come from the land of kings, where everyone can do whatever they wish.   

To fill a vessel with information, you have to first empty it – and that’s what our first year was about. I was a city boy. Grew up in Manila. My whole life I thought the night sky was dark red, until I came out here. Now I realize it’s actually pitch black, especially when you’re at sea. 

That first year, we weren’t allowed to relax. Had to be stiff all the time. Could never lean on a chair while sitting. Back straight for hours. Waking up early to wash our clothes and clean our things. For six months straight.  

My family has sent a lot of sons to the military and I originally wanted to enter PMA. I got the military training I needed. Before I was loose and carefree. Now I have military bearing. When my family visited after many months at MAAP, they said I looked and acted like an entirely different person.  

My father hugged me and I stiffened up. I didn’t know how to react anymore. I wanted to break down then and there but didn’t want to – not in front of Dad. But when I sat down and actually leaned on the chair’s backrest for the first time in months I just lost it. I cried my heart out. Felt good to be human again.

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Gregg Yan

Gregg Yan is an award-winning writer and photographer who covers marginalized groups and environmental conservation issues. His work has been featured by National Geographic, Discovery Channel, CNN plus over a dozen books – including Into the Wild, his first coffee table book. He also has a monthly magazine column on wildlife.