Capt. John Bautista Lacson: A LEGACY SAILS ON
By Ligaya Caban
A star is born on the waters of the Visayas: M/V Capt. John B. Lacson!
In honor of a master mariner and civic advocate, ministered through by daughter Mary Lou and grandson Ronald, with critical collaboration of family and friends, prominently Capt. Vicente E. Fedelicio and Dr. Arend Brugge.
The P230-million multi-function training ship is German-built, originally a handy bulk carrier converted, refitted, outfitted with a crew of 33 for 200 trainees at a time.
Technical specs: over-all length, 71.92m; B.P. length, 65.50m; MLD breadth, 12.80m; MLD depth, 6.80m; Draft design/scantling, 4.45m; Deadweight (design/scantling) TBA; IMO 7633442 and classed by Germanischer Lloyd (GL).
It was christened Nov. 8th at the Port of Capinpin, Orion, Bataan; simultaneously inaugurated and launched Dec. 12th at the Iloilo Ports Authority (PPA) Terminal 1; ready for the opening of classes this June for hands-on training and on-the-job skills development.
JBLMU Chairman and President Emeritus Mary Lou L. Arcelo recalls with nostalgia this ship is a dream of her father, Capt. John B Lacson. It is very ambitious for a school to own one, without international sponsors but its alumnus.
Dr. Arcelo adds, “Some quarters say the vessel is a big risk but given the corporate passion to innovate and lead, the training ship is … not only for our students but also for the country.”
Trainees will be immersed in the actual operations of equipment of their field, undertaking related activities and validated in specifically-designed workbooks. Qualified onboard training officers ensure compliance to OBT and cadetship requirements.
The ship is for shipboard training (SBT) for Seatime Apprenticeship (for BSMT and BSMarE); shipboard familiarization, port watchkeeping, navigational trips.
BS Cruise Ship Management or HRM students may take shipboard familiarization, galley or culinary, steward trainings and other courses.
Senior High, Junior High students and Pre-baccalaureate maritime enrollees may take programs to help finalize their choices for a career at sea.
On the side, the local government used the ship on its Dinagyang Festival; Dr. Arcelo on her 80th birthday bash May 28th; a restaurant with function rooms for an Iloilo Strait cruise.
Dr. Arend Brügge, Managing Director-Vega-Reederei, affirms it is the right size for a training vessel, with its sturdiness of German steel (constructed extra strong because she was designed for trade in the Artic).
Vega Reederei is one of the biggest sponsors of JBLFMU cadets, supplies the officers and crew of the training ship with state-of-the-art facilities on the bridge, engine room, mess hall, galley, cabin, AVR, library and added training bridge for deck cadets and engine workshop.
Equipped with both old and modern: the sextant and Global Positioning System (GPS) with paper and digital electronic charts to teach students basic ways of navigation, to be ready should there be glitches on the digitals.
Capt. Vicente E. Fedelicio, Vega Manila Crew Management president & CEO and JBL Maritime Vanguard Services chairman & president, spearheaded the acquisition of the training ship with the support of his principal, Dr. Brügge; John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime UnIversity’s (JBLFMU) board of trustees and the alumni community.
Capt. Fedelicio was IMA Corp Commander, an academic scholar as well. He earned his BS in Marine Transportation in 1983, worked at sea for three decades, 14 years as captain.
He was IMA Most Outstanding Alumnus, a JBLFMU trustee, earned a doctorate on Maritime Education (Maritime Management) believing, “A coward has a dream; a brave man has mission.”
The captain is also a recipient of the prestigious 2017 Asia Pacific and Entrepreneurship Award (APEA), while Vega Manila Crew Management received the 2017 Intl. Innovation Awards, Organization and Culture category.
Vega employs over a thousand Filipino officers and ratings on 40 owned-and-managed ships.
The tedious search spanned over a decade, looking for the right size, price and condition. Dr. Brugge tipped there is one in Navotas, Metro Manila, scheduled for scrapping. It is 40 years old but a beauty in her time doing the Manila-Hawaii run and some Pacific islands. Its engine and pipings are quite acceptable, body of tough German steel. Acquisition followed, given the valid documents from GL Germanischer Lloyd.
Designs of Engr. Reyes were approved, conversion shuffled from Iloilo and Bataan for various reasons like drydock booking, parts and technical expertise not available, minor problems appearing as if ad infinitum, to include escalating costs and bank conservatism against the risks.
Two approaches locked them: do it on one shot (bullish) or split into two phases (bearish). The bulls prevailed, the bank approved, but completion extended beyond targeted date.
Overarching all these is love of country expressed in education. True, M/V Capt. JBL is versatile and may even tempt the school to maximize on the financial potential. Luckily, the interest on incomes is more for viability than profit. What the owners want is to address age-old problems in maritime education, compliance to MARINA/CHEd circulars, training seafarers to hold on our claim as “Manning Capital of the World.”
The John B Lacson Foundation Maritime University, Iloilo Maritime University (IMA) is a pioneering private maritime education and training institution, the first maritime school in the Visayas and Mindanao.
IMA Milestones: 1948 founded; renamed John B Lacson Colleges; August 7, 1985, became a foundation; 1972, Dr. Arcelo took over as President.
Now, averages thousands of enrolees in three campuses at JBLFMU-Arevalo –Molo, JBLFMU-Arevalo in Iloilo and JBL Colleges Foundation-Bacolod in Negros Occidental. The JBLF Training Center is in Molo, Iloilo City.
The newly-launched M/V Capt John B Lacson is a crown jewel of the education group – a game changer, pride and priority of Lacsonians but also available to other schools as gesture of goodwill.
Master Mariner JBL.
The founder was born on May 9, 1898 in Silay City, Negros Occidental, third of eight children. He grew up in Manapla where the family operated a rowboat that transported sugar.
He wanted naval architecture but for financial reasons took the two-year Associate in Nautical Science on a scholarship from the Phil Nautical School. He graduated in 1920, sailed as an apprentice mate onboard SS Venus of the Manila Steamship.
In 1937, JBL was skipper of Limbas, a luxurious yacht. The owner took him a year to the US and on return, he joined the Coast Guard Patrol Service of the Light House of the Bureau of Customs. In 1941, he was Chief Mate of the motorship Natsuko bound for the US.
When WW II broke up, he joined the US Coastguard as Lt Junior Grade assigned at the coastal area of San Francisco in command of Bataan. They conducted suicide missions which earned him medals of honor.
In 1944, he became a U.S. citizen, adopted the first name John, resided at San Juan, Puerto Rico. In 1948, he returned home to make young boys realize dreams and be at sea.
He founded the Iloilo Maritime Academy (IMA) in 1948; served as harbor pilot for 12 years in Iloilo City displaying prowess as a teacher, master mariner, port pilot.
Sadly on June 15, 1992, he sailed ahead to his Creator after years of dedicated work to make Iloilo “Seafarers Capital of the Philippines.” Years continued to roll, but Capt. John B. Lacson continues to be with the youth aspiring for their dreams, with his people now living enriched in the quality of life.
They believed in JBL --- immortalized by communal love, by the continuity of his mission.