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.

Jebsen Gamido, 28

There are at least a thousand Pinoy seafarers infected with HIV and the number is growing fast. 

Nalaman kong I had it when I was only 18. Hailing from a good family and always standing out because of my academic performance, malaking blow siya. Kala ko my life was over. Limang buwan akong umiyak – but eventually, my tears dried up.  

After accepting my fate, my next hurdle was finding a job. Grabe yung stigma and discrimination against HIV-positive seafarers nung 2016. Most are neglected, set aside and almost never given fair opportunities.  

I met other people experiencing the same challenges so we banded together para magkaboses ang HIV-positive seafarers.   

Now Positibong Marino has become a human rights advocacy group focused on education, empowerment and ensuring that seafarers with STDs and other ailments get fair treatment and employment opportunities. We’re based at the AMOSUP seaman’s center in Intramuros and we’re always ready to help out. 

With better science, medicine and understanding, we can control the spread of STDs. And as I found out, people with HIV can definitely lead normal lives. 

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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.