Ready for the World: ENGINE RATING PROGRAM FIRSTBORN
By Coca H. Strobar
The IMEC-AMOSUP Engine Rating Program cranked the first graduates, 38 of 190 trainees, in formalities held June 8th at the Don Bosco Youth Center.
This is for School Year November 2017 to April 2019, carries the theme, “Through Difficulties to Greatness,” officially the 101st commencement exercise.
“Good luck on your seafaring careers and welcome to the international shipping industry,” beams Adam Lewis, IMEC Head of Training and Operations based in UK.
These are simple words but carry deep significance: the center is in Manila, one of the world’s densely populated city and hotbed of crime and poverty; the program is a synergy of a professional organization, religious community and IMEC, addressing challenges of youth with development of a career so needed in the merchant marine world.
Lewis adds the course is unique because every trainee is already allocated to blue-chip shipping company from Day One. This scholarship is a life-changing opportunity but it is for the graduates to prove to the sponsoring company their merit as they board their first ships.
He advises them to work hard, show loyalty as “you are now in-charge of your own future.”
The Int Maritime Employers’ Council (IMEC), in partnership with the Associated Marine Officers’ and Seamen’s Union of the Phil (AMOSUP), gives full scholarship with monthly allowance, additional training and every possibility of employment as Engine Rating within the IMEC-affiliated fleet after graduation.
The Don Bosco Youth Center implements the program based on the Salesian Preventive System, essentially sharing concerns to offenders instead of meting punishment. This is from the ethos of Giovanni Melchiorre Bosco, an Italian priest, educator and writer. He is a Roman Catholic saint better known as Don Juan Bosco, advocate of caring for street children in trouble.
The 18-month Fitter/Machinist course includes 12 months of welding and machining at Don Bosco, five months on-the job-training (OJT) and a month of STCW-required training for ratings at the Maritime Academy of Asia and the Pacific (MAAP).
Fr. Manuel Nicolas, Don Bosco TVET Director/Administrator, congratulated the graduates as “Bosconians” which imply they now bear the excellence of the Don Bosco institution.
“You are our first batch and definitely whatever happens to you, whatever have happened to you and whatever will still happen to you will definitely talk about us so I give you all the best after this.”
Fr. Nicolas was deeply grateful to IMEC for the “very rare opportunity” and underscored that while Don Bosco has a lot of sponsor, “… I tell you honestly we have none like it.”
The good father gave special mention to Lewis and Tolentino, the latter based in Manila for the Cadetship Programme.
IMEC is the only international employers’ organisation dedicated to maritime industrial relations. Established over 60 years ago, it operates from offices in Hampshire, UK, and Manila in the Phil and represents over 230 shipping companies with 11,200 vessels of 60 flags, almost 300,000 seafarers of 68 nationalities.
A 26-year old Bicolano is the class topnotcher, Mark Eljon Bornilla, earning also the Perfect Attendance award. While openly humorous, he has quite a story to tell about his burdens.
For one, he doubles on the side selling lumpia (vegetable roll street food) while studying.
But that was the better him already.
He was “exiled” to Manila for his bad ways even at elementary grades. Fights, cutting-classes, he was back-and-forth at the Guidance Office. At 4th year high school, he had to quit for lack of funds to support his study, then vices of smoking, drinking, romancing, and what more that lurk the streets and alleys.
He slept where he could, eat whatever, committed petty crimes, blaming family dysfunctions to justify his wild ways. Until an epiphany, a realization: My God, my God, is this all to my life?
He studied back, graduated high school 2009-2010, focused on working 2011 to 17. There is “no footprint on the sand,” but for unknown reasons Mark got close to the Don Bosco Youth Center as he struggled to reform.
No more all-night jigs, he was an early riser to clean up, pass by the church and implore the Nazarene Christ and rush to school. Along side is the support team: the Tres Marias (3 Mary’s) of his renewed life, girlfriend, their daughter and his mother.
Mark reminds all to keep lessons learned from Don Bosco; primarily, that surrendering is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
He confesses gratitude to IMEC which trusted him and his batch, expectedly idolizing the staff, particularly Tolentino whom they all emulate.
Tolentino has also an emotional sharing, “Truly this school, Don Bosco, is a launch pad for success. My dad also graduated here”, third batch when Don Bosco was created.
“For everyone’s information this is one of the hardest training programs that I have handled.”
Tolentino had had a lot: thousands in a previous company and thousands more for IMEC and the Cadetship Program. He was so touched by the Bornilla revelation, confirming the herculean task of ministering on the huge disparity in person, value, experience of trainees.
AMOSUP Legal Counsel Kevin Domingo, representing Pres. Conrado Oca, reiterated the never-say-die mantra and like the legendary phoenix, they will always rise above the odds. Atty. Domingo sees future trials and to overcome, “… never rest on your laurels, continuously strive for excellence and just keep pushing forward.”
IMEC Director Mike Estaniel says, “…it’s all up to you how far in the start you want to go…if you want to become a captain or a chief engineer.”
He recalled that in 1970s, Transglobal Maritime, through his father, started a Don Bosco program which produced chief engineers, aside from Oilers and Pumpmen. Determination was the key to achieving the dreams.
Estaniel cautioned them, “You have to work together and as a team you have to also think of safety. Safety is paramount at sea. You need to understand, think safe, act safe and be safe.”
As the gates open in local horse-racing, the announcer blares “There They Go…” So do the fresh graduates inching places on the world stage.