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Photo by Stan B on Unsplash

“Nung unang salta ko sa barko, email at text pa nun. Maliban sa mahal yung bawat send eh limitado pa ang bawat letra na pwedeng itext. Pero parang nabunutan ako ng tinik nung naintroduce yung internet sa barko. Iba yung feeling na hindi kana parang nasa ibang dimensyon. On time mong natatanggap yung reply nila kahit nasa kalagitnaan ka ng dagat at kung may sapat na load, pwede mo pa silang maka videocall.” – Von, Third Officer,  24-years old

The Seafarers Happiness Index (SHI) is an online tool used to rate seafarers’ satisfaction with 10 key factors of life at sea. Interestingly, in the last quarter of 2019, the SHI dropped from 6.59 to 6.13, but one factor went up—connectivity (from 6.82 to 6.96).

The report revealed that even though shipping companies are now responding to the necessity of providing better connection facilities to vessels at sea, there remain issues on shore liberty, racism, and fatigue continue to affect our seafarers on board.

“Kahit na malaki na ang nabago sa pagbabarko- hindi parin nawala ang mga mapang abuso. Isa ito sa dapat isulong at pagtibayin ng maritime industry kabilang sa MLC o Maritime Labor Convention. Dapat matanggal na ang harassment at bullying onboard. Dapat lahat ay magkaroon na ng malawak na pagunawa sa bawat crew- sa ugali, katalinuhan, kakayahan at maging sa lahi at sekswalidad.”

Still, not everything is negative. African seafarers had the highest rate of satisfaction, with an average level of 7.09. It was also notable that the happiest seafarers realize their roles in providing a better future for their families. This gives meaning to their sacrifices as it translates into better living conditions for their loved ones. It is highly indicative that in the changing times, our value for seafaring is still deeply rooted in our sense of love for our families.

“Every time na feeling ko ang bigat ng araw ko kinakausap ko agad family ko. Sinasabi ko yung mga nangyari, hirap ng trabaho, walang tulog – pero hindi sila nag papakita ng awa. Sa halip, yung tanging reply nila ay mag pray. Palaging bilin ni papa every time sumampa ako: ‘Smile when you are working.’ Effective ‘to.”

Truly, the maritime industry is a work in progress. As long as we continue to advance, there will always be areas that we will improve on and areas that will be overlooked. But tools such as this report will always be helpful in identifying where do we begin and how are we doing. Together, let us all bring forward the welfare of this industry’s bloodline – its seafarers.

To know more about this report, you may download it here.  To answer the survey, you may visit https://www.happyatsea.org/about-us.

Third Officer Von shares his insights on happiness while on board. 

Elijah Jose Barrios

Elijah Jose Barrios is a 24-year old Third Officer, Teacher, and Course Developer. He advocates for child literacy and youth empowerment through his involvement in different organizations.  He considers himself an appreciator of any form of art and usually puts all his realizations into writing.