Tried and Tested Friend: IMEC CHAIR AHMED CHECKS ON WARDS
By Ligaya Caban
The graduation rites of Class 2019 was graced by a special patron, Capt. Belal Ahmed, newly-minted Chairman of the Intl Maritime Employers’ Council (IMEC).
A second batch of 197 students earned their degrees from the Maritime Academy of Asia and the Pacific (MAAP), with formal ceremonies at Kamaya Point, Mariveles, Bataan, December 6.
Of the 197 total, 115 are IMEC-sponsored cadets.
88 members earned a BS in Marine Transportation (BSMT) while 109 were conferred BS in Marine Engineering (BSMarE). They were all appointed Ensigns in the reserved force of the Navy, a third command of the Armed Forces (AFP).
Notable guests include Chairman Koichi Akamine (Intl Mariners Management Association of Japan), Deputy Executive Director Vera Joy Ban-eg (Maritime Industry Authority) and Superintendent Joel Abutal (Phil Merchant Marine Academy).
IMEC is the only international employers’ organisation dedicated to maritime industrial relations. Established over 60 years back, it operates from UK and Manila (Phil) and represents 250 shipping companies with 11,200 vessels of 60 flags, over 300,000 seafarers of 68 nationalities.
In 2006, IMEC started to partner with AMOSUP with an initial batch of 25 MAAP cadets endorsed by IMEC members. In 2008, the IMEC cadet program with MAAP was established together with a Philippine office.
Among front-liners is Capt. Belal Ahmed, Managing Director, Western Shipping-Singapore, and now, the new IMEC Chairman earlier involved with IMEC pay negotiations with ITF, with the IMEC Secretariat and training initiatives like the IMEC Cadet Program.
Last August 23rd, RAdmiral Bayani R. Gaerlan, AFP retired, took over as IMEC Phil Representative while also president of Western Shipping Southeast-Asia. He delivered the keynotes address at the Inaugural Ceremonies for 260+ cadets for Batch 2023, the largest.
Capt. Ahmed started his onboard career in 1978 through 2000. In 2001, he accepted onshore tasks as Marine Superintendent with Western Shipping-Singapore, then a start-up firm. Following year, he was promoted to Fleet Personnel Manager; then inducted (2004) into the Board of Directors. His core activity was in the Fleet Personnel, but was multi-tasking in matters financial, operational, safety, TMSA and general fleet and office administration.
In 2010, Capt. Ahmed was appointed GM and Managing Director overseeing the Overall Management of this reputable ship management company.
Between 2004 and 2005, a crew management office was established in Manila, followed by a training centre. Both are now recognized by the industry as reliable service providers.
While a frequent visitor at MAAP, this was Capt. Ahmed’s first as IMEC Chairman. Expectedly, his views were clear and from the heart:
“You have proven to your organisations, your sponsoring companies and most of all yourselves, that you have the capability of achieving great things.
But this is only the beginning of your very own success story.”
He then recalled IMEC commenced its programme at MAAP in 2008, possibly reaching 2,000 graduates very soon. Whether sponsored by IMEC, IMMAJ or any other, the bottom line is “quality” like MAAP graduates who “meet the challenges of the modern shipping industry.”
The captain says ships will be complex and will require officers like them, “outstanding regiments and we believe you have what it takes…”
He throws a challenge: “It is now your responsibility to prove to your sponsors that you not only have the qualifications but also the maturity to become an officer of tomorrow.
I wish you the best of luck … for your licensure examinations, and I look forward to hear about your future success.”
Dr. Conrado Oca, AMOSUP President and MAAP’s Governing Board Chair, was proud to declare Capt. Ahmed is “… very close to our hearts. Through thick and thin, he is with us in AMOSUP … I think he is more Filipino than the rest of us because he puts his right hand over his left when we sang our National Anthem.” (Applause)
Continuing, Oca expressed gratitude to the faculty of MAAP for keeping “alive the legacy of our founder Capt. Gregorio S. Oca” through the students, to the administration under the sterling leadership Vice Admiral Santos that has propelled MAAP’s “excellence in maritime education.”
(Santos received last November 20th a lifetime achievement award at CrewConnect, the world’s biggest maritime manning event.)
In the early 1970’s, Filipinos (then just about 1,500) were barely mentioned in the report on non-domiciled seafarers conducted by the Dept. of Trade of the British Government. Filipinos were bunched with Chinese and Korean ratings.
But, through hard work and tenacity of early merchant mariners like the legendary Capt. Oca, Filipinos are now on top, some 300,000 over the 1.2 million worldwide --- no longer just ratings but also command officers, and ship management in the near horizon.
Dr. Oca “But to be able to maintain this reputation, it takes persistence, competence and commitment. Let us not squander the invaluable work of our ancestors who have dedicated their lives … (for) the opportunities that are now set before you.
From this day forward, I challenge each and every one of you here to be game changers. Right here, right now is the time for you to set your minds and think big to persevere and to commit to doing your absolute best to live up to the prestige of being a Marinerong Pilipino.
You are set to take the world. Uphold the values we taught you here at MAAP and make us proud … Mabuhay ang Pilipinong Mandaragat!”