The current maritime landscape has welcomed new trends and innovations in the name of improvement. From curriculum adjustments in several MARINA training centers to new standards in maritime operations, all of these have been done with the best interest in mind. Part of embracing the new is the discontinuation of the old, and this is apparent in the looming phase out of wooden-hulled typed vessels. In response to this, the Integrated Seafarers of the Philippines (ISP) recently announced their initiative to build more roll-on roll-off vessels (RoRo) last November 8 at the National Reintegration Center for OFWs (NRCO) and ISP Business Plan Competition.
ISP is no stranger to domestic shipping, with its Metro Ferry Inc. venture that has since become a great mode of transportation in select areas in Cebu. Now, they are setting their sights on shipbuilding, specifically Ro-Ro vessels, for both trade and training purposes. In accordance with the Build, Operate, Transport and Train (BOTT) Plan, our local seafarers and cadets would serve as the operators of these vessels.
Capt. Gaudencio Morales, the president of ISP, stated that the vision for the local maritime industry is what pushed them to take part in this initiative. He also added that such a vision could address the career ambitions of Filipino seafarers. The profession would evolve into something that satisfies their creativity, wanderlust, and desire for financial stability for the family.
On a bigger scale, Morales also stressed the benefit such efforts would have on the country as a whole. It would lead to more job opportunities, a smoother trade process, and millions in taxes paid to the government. The Philippines’ status will also improve, as these shipbuilding programs would help cement our country’s place as not just a quality seafarer hub, but also as a builder of ships.
As ISP has come to find, this vision of success will only come to fruition if both the public sector and the private sector, as well as various stakeholders in the industry, all work together to make it happen.
Morales also revealed that a National Reintegration Training Center is in the works under ISP’s partnership with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration – National Reintegration Center For OFWs (OWWA-NRCO). This venture is to educate seafarers about possible businesses and career paths they can take once their maritime profession has ended.
As a conclusion, Morales had the following statement: “Empowering Filipino seafarers through an effective reintegration program is a collective project that we, along with OWWA and NRCO, should leave as a legacy to the Filipino people. Our experience in the ISP is telling us that our vision for a vibrant maritime Philippines is attainable and with God’s grace, we could witness the realization of the vision.”
Indeed, the maritime industry in the Philippines can improve, and the bright future envisioned by those with the initiative can happen. However, it takes a combined effort from various individuals and government bodies, as well as a positive attitude to change. Whether it’s something about the operations such as the building of Ro-Ro ships, or something to do with the training of aspiring candidates, change for the better must be welcomed. Only then can a better tomorrow for the industry be possible.