What does it take to become an Outstanding Seafarer?

What does it take to become an Outstanding Seafarer?

By Ian Christian Elardo, Deck Cadet


This is the question which has been at the back of my mind ever since I started as a student and a cadet. I started my seafaring career when I applied and joined the Norwegian Shipowners Association Cadet programme. I worked hard, was lucky enough to pass, and then went to work for Thome Ship Management.

Little did I know then that my hard work and endeavours would pay off and that I would be chosen as one of the top ten students in the Philippines.

I belong to the 2-1-1 training programme and was assigned to study at the DMMA College of Southern Philippines. Life as a student was not a walk in the park but after two years of studying I was awarded a one year apprenticeship onboard two bulk carriers with six months sea time on each vessel.

My time at sea was both a challenge and an opportunity for me. We all have our own skills and abilities and it is our responsibility as to how we use them to our advantage and in getting the job done. Our weaknesses, on the other hand, must not be a hindrance to our success but rather a key to opening up our potentials.

Learning while at sea is far different from the learning system we may enjoy at school. Knowledge is not spoon fed to you at sea because, as a cadet, you are a trainee and part of the crew. You are responsible for gathering up all the information necessary to becoming a successful officer. After my apprenticeship, I went back to study for one more year to get my BSc degree.

But while studying at school, something caught my eye. It was an award event known as ‘The Top Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines 2018’ or TOMSP as it is more popularly known. It is an annual event sponsored by the Western Union and The National Seafarer’s day in line with the National Maritime week. It aims to determine the Top 10 outstanding students from MARINA-Accredited Maritime Higher Education Institutions (MHEI).

The selection process starts with your school nominating their two best cadets to represent them. Out of all the schools from around the country, the Top 20 students are selected and they travel to Manila where the number is whittled down to the final 10. A three-day selection process is undertaken and comprises of a 50 and 100-item written exam; on the spot Essay writing; Technical Panel interview; and a community service panel interview.

The judgment day was September 30, 2018, the same day as the 23rd National Seafarers Day which was celebrated and held at the San Andres Sports Complex. Both adopted the same theme: Marinong Pilipino… Kayamanan ng Lahi! (Filipino Marine… Treasure of our Race).

It was a nerve racking day and I kept thinking: “Had I done enough to get through?” I kept thinking about my family and about how proud they would be of me.

And I was lucky. I was chosen as one of The Top 10 Outstanding Students of the Philippines. I consider this to be one of my greatest achievements in life and it has opened a new door of opportunity. And in my mind is proof that Filipinos are outstanding seafarers and are a great asset to the world of shipping.