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.

Eduardo Lumabi, 42

Being a security guard is tough, but it sure beats chopping wood in the mountains. I’m from Tabuk, a city deep in the mountains of Kalinga and I’ve been a security guard for over 20 years. For the past decade, I’ve been posted in Intramuros, making sure people’s IDs and papers are in order before they go inside. I also make sure no one without proper business goes in. Seafarers are mostly friendly and respectful because they know we are their gatekeepers, but sometimes a few get really angry because we can’t let them in. For example, we have a 3PM cut-off time for queries. If we let seamen in, we’ll get in trouble with the office staff inside the building, so we have to stand our ground and tell them to come back the next day.

Sometimes they would get really mad, arguing and even screaming at us, especially if they’re collecting a check. But we just keep quiet because we know that after a while, they’ll realize that screaming and shouting won’t get them in. I’d just like them to know that it’s nothing personal. We’re just following rules. We’re just doing our jobs. We have to, for our families. 

Sometimes though, I imagine what life would be like if things were switched. What if I were the seaman, talking with a security guard on my way to collecting a big check? Funny, but it’s not a crime to dream right?

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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.