The 13-storey ship with 2,600-passenger capacity and 935 cabins had carried 2,000 Filipino tourists per sailing over a three-month period - to Laoag, Kaoshiung and Hongkong.
According to DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment), the country remains to be the world’s top source of seafarers, with around 229,000 Filipinos on board merchant shipping vessels around the world at any given time. Filipino seafarers comprise more than 25 percent of the 1.5 million mariners worldwide, making them the “single biggest nationality bloc” in the global shipping industry.
“What’s the difference between manning a vessel and a cruise chip, I asked. “Being a seaman and a captain at the same time, is a big responsibility. You are dealing with millions of dollars of goods to be transported to some specific locations all over the world, and making a safe voyage without any major problems to the vessel, its crew and the company as well,” he emphasized. A cruise ship crew has its own way of dealing with thousands of passengers on board to make them safe and enjoy their trips,” said.
To be successful being a seaman, Ric gave important pointers: “First of all, you need a degree in nautical or maritime science to be eligible for an on-board training experience with subsequent testing process until you get to the highest level of being a captain, which takes about five years to accomplish,” he said.
“On top of that, maritime law requires you to have a rigid training onboard ocean navigation with specific scenarios. The traits you need to have: You must be calm, level headed and very knowledgeable on all aspects of seagoing oceanography, that includes safety of life and protection of the environment at sea (to maintain the blue color of our oceans),” he added.
What about his most frightening experience? Ric related that it happened near Alaska when he and his men encountered a bad weather during winter. The temperature was below zero and a hurricane was fast approaching ready to slam their boat with a brute force. It almost rendered him witless but he and his men were able to manage and pull through the storm.
Being a seaman was his choice right after he graduated from high school, mainly for the following reason: To be able to enjoy what the world has to offer. The very first world city he saw was New York City, then on to his most exciting trips as a sailor: Practically every European country, Middle Eastern, Caribbean, South and Central American countries, the West and East Coast of the US, African nations, the Southeast Asia and Australia, including New Zealand.
Ric said, “No, we were given orientations on how to handle derogatory remarks and try to solve them if there were issues.”
Loneliness and Homesickness
Being a captain of a big shipping company gave Ric financial stability for himself and his family. He had no qualms in saying that if he would go through life again, he would still choose being a seaman and a captain.
“I loved the adventure and challenges I met,” he proudly said. He said that in the next ten years, shipping companies would still prefer Filipino seamen even with the advent of modern equipment, computerized technology and other countries like China, India, Vietnam and Russia are training seamen also. “I think it will be a big boost to the hiring process of the shipping companies,” he said.
After retirement, what keeps him busy? “I deal with the "ins and outs" of owning a business but the best fringe benefits of being retiree is seeing my family everyday (though deep inside, I still crave for life on the sea),” Ric said. I try to maintain a regular routine schedule that benefits my family and our business as well, and tending to my fish farm. I try to be very considerate and understanding with people I work with. Life is really too short to have enemies at our present age,” he said.
Had he not became a ship captain, Ric wanted to be a criminal lawyer. Today, he just wants to share his knowledge and experience to the younger generation of seafarers. “To be able to tell them how challenging but rewarding this profession is and be able to help their potential to succeed and have a meaningful life,” he said,