Karaoke is a significant and integral part of Filipino culture, synonymous with happiness and goodwill. Rain or shine, no true Filipino party is complete without Karaoke!
The recent daily heavy downpour didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of Pinoy mariners as they celebrated the 28th National Seafarers’ Day (NSD) through the annual Boses ng Marino Karaoke Challenge on Kalaw Avenue, Manila, last September 29, 2023.
In between contracts, Pinoy seafarers and maritime students gather on Kalaw to showcase their singing prowess in a weekly show organized by volunteers. Talented seafarers compete for trophies, cash, and in-kind prizes during the NSD.
Music plays a special role in the lives of Filipino seafarers, whether at sea or on land. It’s an understatement to say that karaoke is a central part of Filipino pop culture, embraced by seafarers both on board and during their breaks.
Karaoke is a clipped compound of the Japanese words “kara” (empty) and “okesutora” (orchestra), offering an interactive entertainment experience where amateur singers sing along with recorded music (or a music video) using a microphone. The lyrics are typically displayed on a video screen, accompanied by changing symbols, colors, or music video images to guide the singer.
Karaoke is indeed a favorite pastime of Filipino seafarers, serving as a coping mechanism aboard international and domestic shipping vessels to address the stress and boredom they endure. These seafarers face physical, mental, and emotional stress while being away from their families and working on board vessels that sail the world’s oceans non-stop for months.
The industry is fraught with health and safety hazards, increasing seafarers’ risks of accidents, illnesses, and even mortality. Some may go missing or perish in maritime disasters. However, the sea cannot silence the seafarers, who master the art of vocal mimicry, contagiously belting out songs like the infamous “My Way.”
This year marks the 13th Boses ng Marino karaoke challenge, which began in 2010. Alongside the karaoke challenge, the NSD celebrations have featured other music-related activities over the years, such as a songwriting contest (2004 to 2008), chorale competition (2007), battle of the bands (2007, 2019), jingle (2007), and Harana by the Bay PCG concert (2017-2019).
For this year’s karaoke challenge, Mark Anthony Tablate from Bohol secured the top spot with his song “Pagbigyang Muli.” Marvin Sagnoy from General Santos City claimed the second place with the rap song “Buhay ng Seaman,” boasting twelve years of experience as an Able-Bodied Seaman (A/B). Jack Suficiencia from Manila took third place with the song “In Your Eyes,” after working as a seafarer for fifteen years.
NSD is celebrated every last Sunday of September annually, as per Proclamation Nos. 828 and 1094 by the late President Fidel V. Ramos, aiming to recognize the vital role of Filipino seafarers in the development of the Philippines as a maritime nation. Stella Maris Philippines is tasked with coordinating efforts between the public and private sectors.
Masses, novenas, and prayers for the safe voyages of seafarers are traditional aspects of the annual NSD. Additionally, wreath-laying and flower-throwing activities honor deceased seafarers and fishers, as well as those who have perished or gone missing at sea.
The 28th NSD was held on September 25, 2023, with the theme “Marinong Filipino: Patuloy sa Pangangalaga ng Karagatan” (Filipino Mariners: Continuing to Care for the Oceans).
The Philippines is a major supplier of maritime labor globally, with an estimated Filipino seafarer for every four to five complements on board a vessel at any time. According to the BIMCO/ICS Seafarer Workforce Report 2021, the top five largest suppliers for both officers and ratings are the Philippines, the Russian Federation, Indonesia, China, and India, together supplying 44 percent of the global seafarer workforce.
In 2022, the number of Filipino seafarers deployed reached 489,852, with corresponding dollar remittances amounting to US$6,715,880,000. The sea-based sector’s remittances comprise at least 22 percent of the total OFW dollar remittances.
The international shipping industry is the lifeblood of the global economy, responsible for the carriage of around 90 percent of world trade. The NSD coincides with National Maritime Week, celebrated every last week of September, spearheaded alternately by government agencies such as the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), and Philippine Ports Authority (PPA).
Atty. Dennis R. Gorecho heads the seafarers’ division of the Sapalo Velez Bundang Bulilan law offices. For comments, e-mail [email protected], or call 09175025808 or 09088665786