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.

Christian Manangan, 30, Chief Engineer and MAAP Instructor

I have a pretty colorful love story, because I believe in destiny. My wife now was my classmate’s crush. Had his eyes on her for months. But the moment I saw her … I knew I had to bust out my best moves. The race was on!

MAAP has this great programme where local families can ‘adopt’ academy students. This makes the midshipmen’s time-away-from-home far less lonely since they can have families to ‘go home to’ during their shore leaves. So I hatched a plan to have myself adopted by her family, since she’s from Bataan.

Adoptees usually come from far-off places like the Visayas or Mindanao. I’m from Taguig. But I convinced her family to take me. That’s how I got to court her. 

We’d been official for about a month when she realized that my classmate who initially liked her had convinced her to go to our upcoming Valentine’s hop months before. So she went to the dance with him while I took my cousin.

After I graduated from MAAP, it was time to give her a ring. I took her to Viking’s at the Mall of Asia grounds because it was right by the sea. But Manila traffic was so bad that we got there late. I was going to hire a band for my proposal, but we ended up rushing through dinner. Good thing I had a backup plan.

I wanted to propose by the sea and I instead did it in the sky. We rode the giant Ferris wheel and I popped the question on one knee while we were a hundred feet above the sea. It was quite a sight!

Now we’re very happily married and expecting our second child. Plus, I got to become an instructor here at MAAP, where everything began. See? Destiny​

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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.