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.

Angelika Secretaria, 21

When I first heard of the silent drill company pagpasok ng MAAP, I was intrigued. The cadets wearing those shiny silent drill pins seemed more poised, more powerful, may dating. And everyone said napakahirap makapasok as a driller, especially kung babae ka. So syempre, I took it as a challenge.

Napakahirap nga pala ng training. Up and about na kami by 2AM. Jogging with our rifles. Old and heavy M1 Garands from World War II. Nagwo-workout kami with our rifles. PT all night. Then, cleaning guns. 

Nung una I thought it would be impossible to excel in school while being in the silent drill company. Kasi syempre the human body needs sleep! Up before 2AM for training, then acads by 6AM. I kept falling asleep in class, kaya nakarami talaga ako ng endorsement. My upperclassmen kept telling me to quit, quit, QUIT! But I never did – kasi gusto kong patunayan sa sarili ko na kaya ko. That I can hack it with the guys. 

My proudest moment was when I performed for the first time for my family. They visited MAAP and from where I was standing at port arms, I could see them crying. Kitang-kita yung pride sa mata nila. Tradition ng school to give flowers to your loved ones after, so I gave them a beautiful rose.  

These are now my pins. This red president’s list pin means I excel in academics. And of course, ito yung silent drill pin ko. Lima lang kaming female cadets na meron nito. Out of a company of a hundred. 

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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.