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.

Maria Kristina ‘Che’ Javellana, 35 

“People all over know me as Kapitana Che Javellana, the first-ever Filipina shipmaster. Because I’ve dedicated myself wholeheartedly to my career, I’ve reached a point where people see me as a symbol.

But who knows the real me? My crew will always see me as a tough taskmaster, because I expect nothing less than excellence from them and from myself. I’m details-oriented, saka kailangan laging malinis at maayos ang barko.

Ultimo bulkhead hindi lang amoy malinis. Dapat malinis talaga. It’s not that I’m heartless – but with the types of vessels that we operate, usually chemical tankers, mataas dapat ang safety and crewing standards.

I’ve worked so hard to be independent, to reach the pinnacle of my career and to provide for my family. But I keep asking myself, what’s next? When I stop working, who will take care of me? Syempre, I also want to get married and have my own family.

Ngayon, many guys are intimidated by my reputation. They see me as The Kapitana Che – but in reality, I’m just a person. I’m just a woman, waiting for my stars to align with someone who can love the sea as much as I do. How can they start to know me? A hello plus a flower would do.”

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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.