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.

John Paul Obdin, 34, Chief Engineer and MAAP Instructor

No one knew what MAAP was when I entered the academy as a cadet in 2001. We were part of the third batch of midshipmen and when we graduated, we had to explain what the school was all about. 

All that changed when we took our board exams. Every single MAAP graduate passed the marine engineering exams that year – a 100% success rate! After that, we never had to explain what MAAP was to anyone. Today, the maritime industry knows what our graduates are made of – that’s why they’re hired even before they leave these walls.

I teach marine engineering here. It’s challenging not just because students need logical, highly-analytical minds to succeed, but because maritime technology is evolving faster and faster. When I studied here, everything was analog – from engine maintenance to course plotting. Now so many things are run by computers, because the maritime industry is sailing to the digital age. 

My job is to ensure our students understand both new and old technology, because if they only know how to operate digitized machines, then they won’t be able to excel on older ships. We also need strong thinkers to push the evolution of maritime technology. That’s what engineering is about – the ability to understand machines and systems and push them to the next level.

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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.