One of the lesser-known industries in which Filipinos dominate globally is the seafaring industry. According to this GMA News article, the Philippines accounts for 28% of the world’s shipping crew with about 250,000 officers and crew members. In a distant second is the whole Indian subcontinent which only has 100,000 people employed in the industry. Filipinos so dominate the crew members of the world’s ships that whenever a ship or tanker anywhere capsizes or is overrun by pirates, expect that Filipinos will be affected. In addition, Filipino seafarers remit about $1 billion to the country, annually. Future projections indicate that there will be a big rise in demand for seafarers and the Philippines is trying to keep up with the demand.
Among the more than 100 schools in the country that offer degrees in B.S. Marine Transportation or B.S. Marine Engineering, it is the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy (PMMA), whose campus is located in San Narciso, Zambales, is I think the most reputable in the country. This 188-year-old institution was created by a Spanish Royal Decree on January 1, 1820 and was named the Escuela Nautica de Manila with its campus inside Intramuros in Manila. The American colonial government renamed it as the Nautical School of the Philippine Islands and then as the Philippine Nautical School before gaining its present name under Republic Act No. 3680 in 1963.
Interestingly, despite being a school that produces graduates mostly hired in the private sector, the PMMA has a military-style education reminiscent of the Philippine Military Academy. Because of this, PMMA graduates are often directly hired as ship officers in commercial vessels and are automatic reserve officers in the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Coast Guard.
But all is not well in this maritime educational institution. The biggest blow to PMMA’s reputation was when it failed the Commission on Higher Education’s 2001 accreditation of the 1995 International Convention on Seafarers’ Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW ’95) (see news article). The PMMA has since undergone efforts, with the help of the alumni association, to improve the standing of the Academy.