By Coca H. Strobar

The vision of health care by the Associated Marine Officers and Seamen’s Union of the Phil (AMOSUP) finds fulfillment in the inauguration of the Seamen Hospital-Manila, South Wing, last November 9th at Intramuros, Manila.

Msgr. Dan Sta. Maria gave the Roman Catholic blessings. The monsignor ministers the parish of the Immaculate Concepcion of Cubao, Quezon City which has been supported by the generosity of the Oca family.

Among the select guests are Sec-Gen Stephen Cotton of the Intl Transport Workers Federation and IMEC chairman Rajesh Tandon who were also both present at the groundbreaking ceremonies November 28, 2016.

With the distinguished foreign well-wishers is Mrs. Mercedes Fernandez-Oca, widow of Capt. Gregorio Oca, AMOSUP founder.

Dept. of Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade led government officials, with U/Sec Philip Judan, shipowners, crew managers and social partners in the industry at local and international levels.

Guests were toured by Hospital Director George Pile at the four-storey facility located on a 800-meter lot. Dr. Pile will focus on the health and medical needs of the Union’s growing wards, both members and their dependents.

The new hospital wing has more and larger rooms outfitted by modern equipment for surgery, dialysis and intensive care, oncology unit for cancer patients. The clinical laboratory, pathology and orthopedic departments are complemented with delivery, operating and recovery rooms.

The fourth floor has the conference room for updates on medical trends. The staff and medical professionals are also well-provided for with the Nurse station, intern and residents room, doctors quarter, private rooms, all connected for emergency access to the main building of the Seamen’s Hospital.

The health care program for Filipino seafarers traces back to a vision conceived in 1974 for the Port area. Then rose the Roberto S. Oca Workers’ Clinic in 1980, developing into the Seamen’s Hospital-Manila in 1986.

Other Seamen’s Hospitals have been established in Cebu in 1997, Iloilo in 2005 and Davao in 2008. In 2013, an AMOSUP satellite clinic started to serve union members in Northern Luzon.

AMOSUP President Conrad Oca says the hospital, “… is a testament to our commitment to the Filipino seafarers.” While the good doctor does not wish seafarers to get sick, “at least, we have the facilities just in case they need it.”

Dr. Oca thanked the various donors like the ITF Seafarers’ Trust (for the dialysis equipment), All Japan Seamen’s Union (major benefactor), Intl Mariners Management Association of Japan, Norwegian and German unions, shipowners and shipmanagers, which they have been funding the hospitals through the years.

He reiterated AMOSUP is committed to uplifting the lives of our Filipino seafarers in terms of health, education, training and other needs. He wants happy seafarers to come aboard since “A happy seafarer is a productive seafarer.”

In thanking AMOSUP partners, he expresses the philosophy of “… in the end everything is about cooperation. No competition, only cooperation.”

Sec. Tugade explained President Duterte could not come being in Vietnam for a commitment for Philippines. He would have taken the opportunity to “shake the hands of many international partners that is with us today” to thank them for “trusting not only AMOSUP but, more importantly, for giving your trust and confidence in the way this new Administration seeks to run and manage the business commitment.”

The transport secretary has known Capt. Oca earlier than Dr. Oca. But he is impressed on the management of the doctor, leading the AMOSUP growth from 100,000 members to 130,000 in less than a year, from a clinic in the Port area to a chain of hospitals nationwide.

Sec-Gen Cotton observes, “… all of you are part of this success story. And this success story (is of) the great Capt. Gregorio Oca… a man of vision (who) …from humble beginnings has built the biggest ITF affiliate of seafarers.

He has many friends in this room and he has friends because he does the right thing, the right way for Filipino seafarers. So Conrad, to Oca Family, we love you because you deserved to be loved.

Let’s build more hospitals and let’s look after our maritime industry by looking after your seafarers.”