West Philippine Sea and the 2019 Ten Outstanding Maritime Students of the Philippines

The West Philippine Sea issue was one  of  the questions I asked to the  aspirants for the 2019 Ten Outstanding Maritime Students of the Philippines (TOMSP) in line with the 24th National Seafarers Day (NSD).  

 They were also asked what single personal item they will save if they were on board the damaged  Filipino fishing boat FB Gem-VIR  that  a Chinese vessel rammed on June 9, 2019 near the Reed (Recto) Bank.

Some of the answers given cellphone, rosary, bible, family pictures, and notebook with prayers.

Out of the 25 hopefuls, the following students were declared the winners: D/C Ma. Toiza Boriba Gorantes and  D/C Ryan Anthony Bretana  both from John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime University (JBLFMU)  Arevalo;   E/C Peter Matthew Bibera of JBLFMU Molo  and  D/C John Kevin Buenaventura  and D/C Zayber Araya of John B. Lacson Colleges Foundation (JBLCF Bacolod). D/C Keith Aiken Pajarillo and D/C Aldrin Ulep both ofMaritime Academy of Asia and the Pacific – IMMAJ Campus;  D/C Christian Khen Torreliza ofBaliwag Maritime Academy; D/C William Catacutan ofUniversity of the Visayas ( UV Main Campus) and E/c Dustin Ryan Veridiano, ofUniversity of Cebu (Lapu Lapu/Mandaue).

The chosen students are seen as the embodiment of the “ideal seafarer,” displaying “integrity, passion, assertiveness, dependability and camaraderie” that will allow them to become globally competitive Filipino seafarer.

The  search gave recognition to students for being academically excellent, highly competent in practice, in good moral standing and active in their respective communities.

From 2011 to 2019, ninety students have received   the TOMSP award.

The largest number of winners came from  JBLCF – Bacolod with fifteen students.

They are followed by   eleven students from  Maritime Academy of Asia and the Pacific (MAAP) IMMAJ Campus   and another eleven  11 from  from  MAAP CGSO  campus.

Ten winners came from JBLMU– Arevalo.

Seven students came from Philippine Merchant Marine Academy (PMMA)-Zambales while another seven came from University of Cebu (UC) – Lapu Lapu and Mandaue.

Five students came from JBLMU – Molo.

Four students came from Mariners’ Polytechnic Colleges Foundation.

Three students each came from Asian Institute of Maritime Studies (AIMS), Technological Institute of the Philippines (TIP) Manila and  DMMA College of Southern Philippines.

Two students came from Malayan Colleges Laguna.

One student came from each of the following schools: Baliwag Maritime Academy, Colegio Dela Purisima Concepcion Roxas, Lyceum International Maritime Academy Batangas,   Manuel Enverga University Foundation, Inc.,  NAMEI Polytechnic Institute, Philippine Merchant Marine School (PMMS)  Las Pinas, Southwestern University Maritime Regiment, University of Perpetual Help System Dalta,  and University of the Visayas.

With this year’s NSD theme “Marinong Filipino-Kababaihan: Palakasin sa Industriya!”, nine  female students were awarded since the TOMSP search begun in 2011 wherein four came from the MAAP , one each from University of Cebu, PMMA, Colegio De La Purisima Concepcion-Roxas, JBLCF Bacolod and latest winner   from JBLMU-Arevalo.

Higher maritime education usually consists of 4-year college degree programs for either marine transportation or engineering. Most commonly, the students go through a 4-year structure (3 – 1) which stipulates 3  years of academic study prior to onboard job training in the final year. An alternative approach is a 2 – 1 – 1 structure which schedules the onboard job training for the third year. After the one year job training, the students go back to school to finish their last year.

Maritime schools annually produce some 40,000 graduates while a  2018  study by the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA)  showed that an average of  about 18% of enrollees manages to complete the full academic three years.

Former president Fidel V. Ramos issued on July 9, 1996 Proclamation No. 828 declaring Aug. 18 as  NSD  aimed at giving due recognition to the vital role of Filipino seafarers towards the development of the Philippines as a maritime country. Later, Proclamation No. 1094 was issued in 1997 by President Ramos which moved NSD to every last Sunday of September every year.

The Apostleship of the Sea (AOS) Philippines was tasked to coordinate with the public and private sectors in activities related to the celebration of said event. The Sunday masses all over the country were offered to the Filipino seafarers.


Atty. Dennis R. Gorecho heads the seafarers’ division of the Sapalo Velez Bundang Bulilan law offices. For comments, email info@sapalovelez.com, or call 09175025808 or 09088665786).


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