Knowing maritime schools by their fruits
Posted on Friday 1st August 2014

Almond blossom by Vincent van Gogh, 1890

“Ye shall know them by their fruits.” Does the Biblical verse apply as well to the Philippines’ marine licensure examinations? Maritime schools whose graduates do well in the tests obviously think so. It’s all grist for their advertising mill. Others, however, insist that the question of where one studied is irrelevant, that it all depends on the individual. For whatever it’s worth, here are the top placers in the marine deck examinations (written phase) conducted by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) in July 2014:
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A cat’s view of training centres in Manila
Posted on Tuesday 29th July 2014


Frankie the Philosopher Cat asked to be let out of our house when the weather cleared up after two recent storms. He said he wanted to check out the maritime training centres in Manila. He was gone for a good three days, but we didn’t mind. Frankie is so perspicacious that he always comes back with some interesting stories. It’s the kind of stuff that one never gets to read in the maritime press.
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Shocking result from Manila licensure exams
Posted on Friday 25th July 2014


At 75, Mary Lou Arcelo has learned to take things in stride. But the outcome of the July 2014 state licensure examinations for officer-in-charge of a navigational watch has hit the chairwoman of the Philippines’ John B Lacson Foundation Maritime University like a thunderbolt. Eleven JBLFMU cadets, all scholars of the Norwegian Shipowners Association (NSA), failed the written tests. Ironically, more than 40 regular cadets of the university passed. One of them even landed on 7th spot.
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Wherefore the Day of the Seafarer?
Posted on Tuesday 24th June 2014

Eight Bells, oil on canvass by Winslow Homer, 1886

It’s been our custom to write about the Day of the Seafarer, which is every 25th of June. How could we not? Is it possible to ignore the chorus led by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) as they sing paeans to the world’s mariners? And yet, we have never really joined in the celebrations. The slogans and speeches just sound too hollow to our ears. This year, we find it more difficult to celebrate for two reasons.
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Anger and despair over officer training
Posted on Monday 16th June 2014


We wonder if any ship officer who’s still sailing has gladly welcomed the ever-increasing training requirements introduced in the name of maritime safety. Certainly not Jill Friedman of Houston, Texas. A holder of unlimited master, 1600/3000 master and DPO unlimited licences, Captain Friedman recently kvetched over having to re-take the Basic Safety Training (BST) course in her feisty and engaging blog, Capt Jills Journeys.
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Merseyside maritime rocking & rolling
Posted on Friday 13th June 2014


The Beatles are no more but Liverpool, the birthplace of the English rock band, is still rocking and rolling as a hub of maritime activity. That point was highlighted this week as Merseyside’s maritime sector welcomed visitors to the Maritime, Logistics & Energy segment of the two-week International Festival for Business. The City of Liverpool is one of five boroughs comprising the metropolitan county of Merseyside in North West England.
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Fathoming the pain of piracy victims
Posted on Wednesday 11th June 2014


On 7th June the remaining 11 crew of the MV Albedo finally tasted freedom after being held captive for 1,288 days by Somali pirates. No doubt, they’ll be sought out by journalists for interviews. An enteprising author might even write a book about their ordeal. But who, except the victims themselves, can ever fathom the pain and anguish they suffered and give justice to their story?
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Boat shoes in a non-boating society
Posted on Sunday 8th June 2014


We will never in this lifetime own a boat. We simply don’t have the werewithal to buy one. But yesterday, the 7th of June, we got the next best thing: a pair of new Sperry Top-Sider boat shoes (pictured above). A gift from our beloved daughter, they are the handsomest casual shoes we’ve ever owned – well crafted, with soft leather and non-slip soles. It’s not only the aesthetics and the workmanship but the story behind these shoes that fascinate us.
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Sea captains: espresso versus decaf
Posted on Thursday 5th June 2014


We’ve met or personally known quite a number of sea captains. Some have hugely impressed us; others, hardly. The latter includes what one could call “decaf captains” or simply “decafs” – those who hold a master’s licence but lack experience as a shipmaster or who never had command of a vessel. These terms seem more precise than “paper captains,” some of whom have enough style to make up for a lack of substance. They sound more elegant in Spanish: capitanes descafeinados.
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No EU deadline on Filipino STCW reforms
Posted on Wednesday 4th June 2014


The European Maritime Safety Agency’s (EMSA) inspection visit to the Philippines scheduled for October may or may not be the last. Maritime Industry Authority head Maximo Mejia Jr confirmed during our recent interview that, unlike in 2013, they haven’t been told that the forthcoming audit would be final. No deadline has been given either.
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5 maverick maritime phrases for the times
Posted on Tuesday 3rd June 2014


This blog has been running for almost five years now. Over the course of time, we’ve had to resort occasionally to inventing new terms or expressions in the discussion of certain maritime issues. No, it was not out of whim. We were at a loss for words to convey exactly what we thought and felt. Necessity forced us to use our imagination. Here are five examples.
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Max Mejia’s road to maritime reform
Posted on Friday 30th May 2014


A year after he was appointed as head of the Philippines’ Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA), we got to meet Maximo (“Max”) Mejia Jr for the first time last 20th May. The man is no ordinary bureaucrat. He’s a US Naval Academy graduate who had taught graduate studies at the World Maritime University in Malmö, Sweden. And now he is leading the reforms to bring the country into full compliance with the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW). We were pleased to hear the progress made by Mr Mejia especially on two fronts.
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