Unsalted words from a maritime educator

Posted on Friday 22nd May 2015


Mary Lou Lacson, chairwoman of John B Lacson Foundation Maritime University (JBLFMU), wanted us to critique her paper entitled “A Personal Perspective on Maritime Education and Training in the Philippines”. She had prepared it for an international MET symposium held at the World Maritime University in Sweden from 19th to 20th May. But due to medical reasons, she was able unable to go and had sent one of her executives to read it for her.
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The maritime side of Henri Matisse

Posted on Thursday 21st May 2015

Matisse_Open Window, Collioure

French artist Henri Matisse (1869-1954) did not produce much of what one would call maritime art. But the few works of his that depict boats, a harbour scene or a sailor have had a huge impact on us, as have his other paintings. His audacious handling of colour, which is evident in Open Window at Collioure (pictured above), and his vision of “an art of balance, of purity and serenity” appeal to our child spirit—to our craving for freedom and harmony, especially in a maritime world where both remain elusive.
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Russians pep up Philippine simulator market

Posted on Wednesday 13th May 2015

Manila Bay and STSTC full-mission simulator (inset)

Russia-based STSTC (Scientitifc & Technical Simulator Training Centre) won’t be left out in the cold. The company is determined to get a piece of the action in the large and still growing Philippine market for marine simulators. Leading the effort are two men who used to work with Transas, also Russian-owned: Gregory Sin, director for business development of STSTC Singapore, and Captain Roberto Uy of SUMACS Inc, STSTC’s newly appointed local distributor. It seems a formidable partnership.
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Five unseen threats to Philippine manning

Posted on Monday 11th May 2015


Forget about the EU threat to derecognise Filipino crew certificates. Or the competition from other crew-supplying countries. The real threats to Philippine manning are not external. They come from within—in the attitudes and patterns of behaviour of local maritime folks, in the culture behind the commerce.
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A cat’s view of maritime school reforms

Posted on Monday 4th May 2015


Frankie the Philosopher Cat has been grumpier than usual. And it isn’t because of the hot and humid weather this time of the year. He recently found out about the “white list” of 23 Philippine maritime schools with 41 others being left out in the cold. When Frankie is in a surly mood, he makes a whining sound that starts with a loud baritone and ends with a plaintive falsetto. It can be a bit bothersome, so we decided to have a talk with him.
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Lowering the boom on maritime schools

Posted on Tuesday 24th March 2015

Detail of The Last Judgement, 1904 painting by Viktor Vasnetsov

Philippine authorities recently put out a “white list” of 23 maritime schools with 41 others having to undergo further review. Many folks might welcome the development; some schools have such low standards that their owners should not even be allowed to operate a coffeehouse. But those who, like us, would like to see genuine reforms have serious questions about this entire process.
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15 quotes on power for maritime folks

Posted on Friday 13th March 2015


It’s not money, as is commonly thought, that drives the maritime industry. It’s power. It is the one thing that ultimately shapes and colours how maritime individuals and organisations act and relate to one another. Some, because of their work, position or status, wield more power than others, but not always wisely — e.g., maritime bureaucrats, corporate executives, union officials, inspectors and even journalists. Here are some timeless quotations on the subject:
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Six wanted changes in the maritime press

Posted on Friday 6th March 2015


We abandoned maritime journalism in 2009 to go into maritime blogging. Since then, we’ve been invited a couple of times to write for certain international publications. But we’ve almost always declined. The maritime press is not what it used to be. With very few exceptions, it has become insipid and uninspired – like the coffee served in some popular coffeehouses.
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State support for seafarer education

Posted on Monday 2nd March 2015


Given how Filipinos boast of being the top crew-supplying nation, one would expect local maritime education and training (MET) institutions to enjoy plenty of State support. Not so. Such establishments are objects of regulation, to be watched and kept under control like a kennel of dogs.
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A code of conduct for seafarers

Posted on Friday 27th February 2015


We are sorely tempted to write a code of conduct for seafarers – something akin to Bushidõ, the code for the samurai of old Japan (pictured above). The shipping industry talks incessantly of seafarers’ rights and has made a fetish of it. How often does one hear about the duties of seamen and the values they need to cultivate?
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A galleon model and ghosts from the past

Posted on Tuesday 10th February 2015


We’ve been looking for a proper, Filipino-built, model of a Spanish galleon to add to our personal nautical collection. Alas, our long search has come to naught. The models we’ve seen are all poorly designed and constructed from cheap wood, obviously by folks who know nothing about ship architecture. We finally decided to purchase a tiny, rather simplified, galleon model made of tin (pictured above) and a Conquistador minifigure from Lego to go with it.
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Duty before right in the shipping sector

Posted on Sunday 8th February 2015


Isn’t there too much emphasis on rights and not enough on duties in the shipping industry? It may seem strange that we ask. Just a few days ago, we made a call for the imposition of fines on shipowners who violate seafarers’ rights. It’s about time, however, that maritime folks and the world at large embraced the concept of duty before right, as two great thinkers of the 20th century had suggested.
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John B Lacson
CF Sharp
Far East