“Filipinos are the best seafarers in the world.”
This was according to Panamanian ambassador to the Philippines, Rolando Guevara Alvarado, when he visited the main office of
(EBC) in Quezon City recently.
“Filipino seafarers are hard workers. They do adapt to the different scenarios. That is why they are preferred by ship owners,” Ambassador Guevara said.
In fact, the Panamanian embassy registers more than 200 Filipino seafarers in a day.
“The reason why the Panamanian embassy is here, it’s because of the shipping,” he said.
Panama has the largest merchant marine fleet in the world.
Panama’s shipping fleet is even greater than those of the United States and China combined.
It has established itself as a hub for maritime transportation, with the Panama Canal being strategically located for the passage of ships, as it connects the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.
Described as one of the seven wonders of the modern world, the 77-kilometer Panama Canal is an engineering feat, which handles 14,000 ships every year, providing a short cut for ships wishing to avoid the more hazardous route via Cape Horn.
Ambassador Guevara explains how many shipping companies value Filipino seafarers.
“Many probably do not know how important is the seafarers are here,” he said.
“Filipinos are the largest seafaring workforce. They do adjust to the different environments. And on top of that, they speak English,” Ambassador Guevara noted.
Panama’s economy is based mainly on the services industry, with banking, commerce, and tourism as a few of its major services. In fact, Panama’s economy is based primarily on a services sector that accounts for nearly 80% of its GDP.
Its services include the Panama Canal, banking, the Colón Free Trade Zone, insurance, container ports, and flagship registry, medical and health, and other business.
Commonalities between Philippines and Panama noted
Ambassador Guevara, however rues that not many Filipinos know about Panama, as he notes how very similar Panama is with the Philippines having been also utilized by the United States before for its military installations, and having been colonized by the Spaniards for 300 years, like the Philippines.
Panama is also a tropical country like the Philippines.
“I feel like home in the Philippines. We are in the same latitude,” Ambassador Guevara explained.
“We have also been under Spanish rule for many, many years,” he said.
The Philippines has also been under the Spanish rule for more than 300 years.
“We had US military bases too. We had them too for many years,” the Panamanian Ambassador said.
Panamanian and Filipinos also have many things in common. They are mainly Catholic, hard workers and live life with passion. They also both consider family ties and family values very highly.
And as the Philippines is known for its “Filipino time,” Panama has a similar thing.
“We do things at the last minute, but we do it,” Ambassador Guevara said.
During his visit to EBC, Ambassador Guevara also stressed the importance of objectivity in reporting the news.
‘That’s important — to be objective. Media now is so polarized. In the end, people will appreciate it (objectivity),” he said.