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.

Bayani Audea, 60

Head waiter ako dati sa Manila Hilton coffee shop. Dahil paborito ako nung isang customer naming may-ari ng shipping agency, inanyayahan niya akong sumakay ng barko.

Sumampa ako nong October 1988 bilang head waiter. Tatlong buwan akong nagsusuka. Maliit lang yung barko namin, pang 90 passengers, kaya kung pangit ang panahon, magalaw at nakakahilo talaga. Grabe ang motion sickness ko noon, suka ng suka hanggang wala nang maisusuka. Tapos syempre kailangan on-the-dot at kalidad ang serbisyo sa mga guest.  

Pero nasanay rin ako. At lagi kong sinisigurong top-class ang serbisyo ng aming waiters sa mga pasahero. Four meals daily – breakfast, lunch, Merienda at dinner. Labintatlong taon akong naglayag at nakaraming barko na ako, mula sa maliit hanggang sa malaking liner.  

Alam mo, sa dagat ko nahanap ang aking higher calling. Nung unang sakay ko, I casually joined a Bible study group. Ang plano ko kasi after my first voyage, iiwan na ang aking girlfriend at the time at maging fulltime at single seaman nalang.  

Pero God’s will was strong. Akalain mo, yung pangalawang barko ko was the same as my first. So I was able to continue my Bible studies to receive the Word of God.  

I realized He wanted me to stay true and be faithful. So instead of leaving my girlfriend, I married her. Ngayon meron na kaming pitong anak and I’ve become a full-time Pastor, spreading His Word to other seafarers and their families sa Intramuros. So if you or your family need guidance or someone to talk to, please find us.”

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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.