Being a seafarer is one of the most prestigious careers in the Philippine. Not only they get to travel the world but it is also one of the most high-paying jobs in the country. For many young Filipino men—especially those who come from the province—it is the key to alleviate their life and consequently, the whole family (even those extended family) supports their son.
What they don’t realize despite the ‘glory” it will bring them in the future, is the emotional torture and sacrifices that they have to endure just to achieve these goals. They say that the coin always has two faces and this article will tackle the emotional turmoil that a Filipino family goes through for their son’s training up to the day that they board the ship.
In the Philippines, maritime education can get relevantly expensive but most Filipino parents make ways (which are often burdensome for them) just to get their son through college. When they’ve finished college, it is not enough to get them a job aboard a ship. They still have to undergo numerous offshore trainingslike OPITO-approved training courses in the Philippines and at least one year apprenticeship just to that employers will “notice” them. These all entails financial worries for the parents.
Oftentimes, they ask a younger sibling to stop going to school so that they can send their son to a maritime university. Often, they take the bait of luring Arabs (popularly known as “5-6” in the local language) to lend them some money for tuition. In the long run, they will incur massive interest and often, the possibility that they have someone who will become a seafarer in the family becomes their collateral.
Weakening Emotional Binds
Because much of their time is spent away from family, their emotional ties weaken for they don’t have constant source of information. In the province, majority of families still don’t have computers so their communication lines are very limited. Because of this, the son showers them with gifts and in return, the family lavish themselves in material things that they receive.
Meaningful conversations and family time is now diminished because they would rather flaunt their new-found wealth to their neighbors or classmates. And usually, the parents would often ask their sons for additional money not really thinking about his feelings. And since he has no choice but to give what his parents want, he will automatically give in. This often leads to internal conflict in the son.
Priorities get Skewed
As a son, he has an obligation to give back to his parents and most Filipinos cannot really say no to family. This emotional torture comes in when he decides to have a family of his own. He now has to choose whether his own family or his future family.
In most Filipino setting, the son’s obligations are never-ending so he has to shoulder the financial load of two families (and of course, any other emotional drama that might come in the future between the in-laws).
You see, the usual connotation in the Philippines if you have a family member that is a seaman; is that you are rich. What most people do not realize is the torture (may it be financial or emotional) that these families have to go through just to have the life that they’ve always wanted for themselves.
Effects of Having a Seafarer Son in the Filipino Household