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 Hara, 54, Father

I lived with the bottle for a long time. Drank endlessly year in, year out. One day, my body gave out and I was rushed to the hospital. I finally realized I had to stop drinking, so I can see my children grow old.

It’s been years and today is the graduation of my youngest son, Michael. He’s smart, unlike me. I’m just a simple farmer. I think he got the brains from my brothers and sisters. 

Michael is quiet and doesn’t talk much – but when he does, people around listen. I also don’t talk much. Especially to my kids. Because my father seldom talked to us when we were growing up. I want Michael to know how proud I am, because he forged his own path to become a seaman. To study here, where everything is nice and clean.

Although MAAP shoulders the cadet’s schooling, we parents have to find money to pay for uniforms, meals and allowances. Our family doesn’t make much – I grow vegetables and pineapples and my wife is a labandera. We couldn’t afford to pay for his incidentals, so we sold our house so he could graduate.

I just want him to know how proud and happy we are. Our investments and sacrifices paid off because he made the top of his class. He’s going to receive an award today – and I’ll be right up there with him. Thank God I stopped drinking.

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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.