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Karaoke as celebration of National Seafarers’ Day

Karaoke as celebration of National Seafarers’ Day
Dennis Gorecho - October 12, 2023

KARAOKE is a significant and integral part of Filipino culture synonymous with happiness and good will. Rain or shine, you cannot have a true Filipino party without karaoke!

The heavy downpour did not dampen the enthusiasm of Pinoy mariners to celebrate the 28th National Seafarers’ Day (NSD) through the annual Boses ng Marino Karaoke Challenge on Kalaw Avenue, Manila on Sept. 29, 2023.

In between contracts, Pinoy seafarers as well as maritime students converging along Kalaw showed their singing prowess through weekly shows organized by volunteers. Talented seafarers competed for trophies along with cash and in-kind prizes.

Music plays a special role in Filipino seafarers’ life, whether at sea or on land. It is an understatement to say that karaoke is a central part of pop culture of Filipinos – including seafarers, whether on board or in between contracts.

Karaoke is the clipped compound of Japanese “kara” (empty) and “okesutora” (orchestra) that is an interactive entertainment; an amateur singer sings along with recorded music (or a music video) using a microphone.

The music is normally an instrumental version of a well-known popular song. Lyrics are usually displayed on a video screen, along with a moving symbol, changing color, or music video images, to guide the singer.

Karaoke is indeed a favorite pastime of Filipino seafarers, a coping mechanism aboard international and domestic shipping vessels to address stress and boredom.

Filipino seafarers are physically, mentally and emotionally stressed because they are away from their families and working on board vessels sailing the world’s oceans non-stop for months.

The industry remains fraught with health and safety hazards that increase seafarers’ risks of accidents, illnesses and mortality, while others may go missing or die in maritime disasters.

But the sea cannot stop the seafarers in mastering the art of vocal mimicry from contagiously belting out songs like the infamous “My Way.”

This year marks the 13th Boses ng Marino karaoke challenge that begun in 2010.

There were also other music-related activities as part of the NSD celebrations like song writing 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 is the top placer for his song “Pagbigyang Muli”.

Marvin Sagnoy from General Santos City won second place for the rap song “Buhay ng Seaman”. He has been a seafarer for 12 years with the current position of Able-Bodied Seaman (A/B)

Jack Suficiencia from Manila won third place for the song “In Your Eyes”. He is currently an AB and has been working as a seafarer for 15 years.

NSD is celebrated every last Sunday of September annually by virtue of Proclamation Nos. 828 and 1094 by the late President Fidel V. Ramos that aimed to give due recognition to the vital role of Filipino seafarers towards the development of the Philippines as a maritime country. The Stella Maris Philippines is tasked to coordinate with the public and private sectors.

Masses, novenas and prayers for the safe voyage of seafarers are traditionally part of the annual NSD.

Wreathe and flower-throwing activities are also offered for deceased seafarers and fishers, as well as for those who have perished or missing at sea.

The 28th NSD was held on Sept. 25, 2023 with the theme, “Marinong Filipino: Patuloy sa Pangangalaga ng Karagatan.”

The Philippines is considered one of the major suppliers of maritime labor globally. It is estimated that there is one 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, these countries supply 44 percent of the global seafarer workforce.

In 2022, Filipino seafarers deployed reached 489,852 with the corresponding dollar remittances amounting to US$6,715,880,000.

The sea-based sector’s remittances comprise at least 22 percent of the total dollar remittances of overseas Filipino workers.

The international shipping industry is the lifeblood of the global economy as it is responsible for the carriage of around 90 percent of world trade.

The NSD coincides with the National Maritime Week celebrated every last week of September spearheaded alternatively by government agencies Maritime Industry Authority, Philippine Coast Guard and Philippine Ports Authority.