For the next few stories, Kumusta, Kabaro? Kumusta, Kaibigan? will focus on the veterans; the seafarers who have a world of experience on their shoulders. 

Milardo Corbillon, 57, Welder

Old ships. Always old ships. I’ve been at sea as a welder since my youngest was born, over 28 years, and I always get the old ships.

Ships which have been out at sea a long time need lots of repairs – and that means old Milardo needs to weld and fix things. Pipes, tanks, everything that can crack, spring leaks, explode. My job isn’t only hard, it’s dangerous. But I can weld anything.

One time our ship stalled and we were being battered by huge waves. I needed to weld pipes to save the ship – and I did, even though the rocking waves kept knocking me down, nearly breaking my shoulder. Another time I was repairing a tank with boiling oil off the coast of Singapore. It blew up and sprayed me with the stuff. Good thing Singapore has good medical facilities – but my body’s still scarred. Aboard an old ship, there’s never any rest.

Good thing I’ve been reassigned to this ship. This is the M/V Kapitan Gregorio Oca, the latest training vessel of MAAP. This ship is state-of-the-art. Japanese made. Brand-new. It’s less than four months old and everything works perfectly.

Aside from my normal welding duties, I teach these young cadets everything I know about life-at-sea. I have many good stories. Stories about old ships from an old man. The cadets love it.

I’ll be 60 in two years and am planning to retire. My kids have families of their own. But my wife needs me – she runs a successful catering business in our home province of Alaminos. I make all our equipment for her – because old Milardo can weld anything.

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.

Share this post

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.