Seafarers confab focus on crucial family issues

Parenting should go beyond bringing home “pasalubong.’’

This was aired by Marissa Oca, founder and executive director of Gig and the Amazing Sampaguita Foundation, Inc. (GASFI), who explained that children of seafarers OFWs now equate good parenting with being able to bring them material things or pasalubong after a long absence due to work.

Parenting from afar has been one of the most difficult challenges faced by Filipino seafarers. The physical demands and social isolation caused by constant departure often take a toll on the well-being both of the seafarer and his family.
“The problems of seafarers are cyclical – money, family. They get their contracts, get deployed, come home, and sign a contract again. The family dynamics is based on the cyclical migration and they need a platform to share how they manage to make things work despite the odds,” explained Oca whose GASFI aims to promote well-bonded relationships within and among seafaring (and OFW) families.

The daughter of the late master mariner Gregorio S. Oca, dubbed “Father of Modern Philippine Maritime”, Marissa added that “pasalubong” is part of the parenting practice among seafarers. Sometimes their financial support extends not only to their immediate families but to neighbors in the community.

Despite technological advances aboard ships, seafarers suffer from emotional, mental, physical and spiritual stress being away from their families. Families should equip themselves with skills which were not needed in the past but need now with the onset of social media, Oca exhorted.

To put out in the open the issues relevant to seafarers and their families, the Seafarer Family International Congress will be held on Aug. 14 and 15, at the Fiesta Pavilion, The Manila Hotel in One Rizal Park, Manila. With theme “All Aboard: Seafaring Families Engaging the World for Sustainable Well-Being”, the congress will feature seafarers, government and maritime industry leaders who discuss and collaborate on best practices.

Among the topics that will be discussed are the “Role of Women in Seafarer Families and Maritime Careers” and “Family Programs and Best Practices” which will highlight the influence of programs and policies, and welfare services administered by maritime organizations and manning agencies which help families sustain their repeated separations.

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