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05 July 2008

SBMA Chairman Bats for Revival of Maritime Sciences

Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman Feliciano Salonga stressed the need to revive interest in maritime sciences on Friday, as Hanjin Heavy Industries Corp.-Philippines (HHIC-Phil) launched MV Argolikos, the first ship that the Korean shipbuilder has manufactured in its shipyard here.

Speaking in the sidelines of the formal naming ceremony for Argolikos, Salonga said that current developments in the maritime industry, especially in Subic, demand program upgrades in the education sector.

“The presence of Hanjin here, for example, should compel maritime schools to offer courses such as naval architecture, design and construction,” said Salonga, an engineering graduate of the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMC) and former president of the Philippine Shipyard and Engineering Co. (Philseco) in Subic, Zambales.

“There should be a renaissance in the maritime sciences if we are to enhance and sustain growth in the country’s maritime industry,” the SBMA official pointed out.

Salonga said that in support of the SBMA’s thrust to develop Subic as a premier maritime logistics and services hub in the Asia-Pacific region, the agency has initiated the creation last year of the SBMA Scholarship Foundation, Inc. (SBMASFI) to provide financial support to qualified college and post-graduate students, primarily those taking up maritime courses.

The foundation is headed by Salonga as chairman, with the board of trustees composed of SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza, Unesco Ambassador Preciosa Soliven, Hanjin director and general manager Jeong Sup Shim, Subic Services Terminal Inc. president Eduardo Aliño, Nicera Phils. Inc. general manager Takashi Morimoto, former SBMA director Jose Vicente Magsaysay, Keihin general manager Edgardo Austria, and Subic Drydock Corp. officials Catalino BondOc, Gerald Hammond and Victor Mamon.

The scholarship program covers fields such as maritime management, maritime engineering, business, finance, and other support disciplines like environmental conservation.

Salonga said the SBMASFI raised about P1 million last year through fund-raising activities in cooperation with the SBMA, business locators in the Subic Freeport, and local government units (LGUs) in the neighboring communities.

He said the foundation is now eyeing tie-ups with known maritime education schools both here and abroad, although “resource-building” would have to continue for another year before programs could be effectively carried out.

The foundation is headed by Salonga as chairman, with the board of trustees composed by SBMA Administrator Armand Arreza, Unesco Ambassador Preciosa Soliven, Hanjin director and general manager Jeong Sup Shim, Subic Services Terminal Inc. president Eduardo Aliño, Nicera Phils. Inc. general manager Takashi Morimoto, former SBMA director Jose Vicente Magsaysay, Keihin general manager Edgardo Austria, and Subic Drydock Corp. officials Catalino Bondic, Gerald Hammond, and Victor Mamon.

Salonga said there should be an emphasis on maritime education in the Philippines because the country produces more than 30 percent of the seafarers worldwide.

He added that Filipino seafarers should improve their edge over other nationalities and not settle for just being crew members of oceangoing vessels, since the international maritime industry would need at least 30,000 entry-level officers by 2010.

“If Filipino seamen could fill up these entry-level positions, the Philippine economy stands to gain about $200 million annually,” Salonga stressed.

The SBMA official also noted that Filipinos naturally excel in the maritime industry because the country is an archipelago.

“Given the knowledge and the technology, we can even build some of the biggest ships in the world — as Subic is now proving with the launching today of MV Argolikos,” Salonga said.

The 41,000-ton MV Argolikos, the first Subic-made vessel, is also the first container ship to be built in the country.

It was formally named by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, prior to its delivery to the Greek shipping firm Dioryx Maritime Corp. sometime this month. (SBMA Corporate Communications)

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