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.
Alexander Salagubang, 56
I go to Luneta whenever my wife’s looking for a fight. Here I can pass the time talking with other seamen. They understand. In the 1970s and 1980s, getting a job on an international ship was easy. As more and more maritime schools sprang up in the 2000s, competition became tougher. Agencies and vessels now have more applicants to choose from, so they instituted stricter crewing standards. I’m now 56 and am applying for chief mate, second-in-command of a ship – but the prescribed age for the position is from 45 to 54 years old. If I get in, the money’s good. An inter-island chief mate gets maybe P30,000 a month, while the same job on an international ship pays as much as P180,000. To get choice positions though, you need a backer and enough money for a placement fee. I’ve been applying for two months and I’m really hoping that companies will see beyond their prescribed age limits. I’m a licensed captain and I’ve spent half my life working on ships. That’s 30 years at sea. It would be a shame to let my experience and knowledge go to waste.