The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has urged Filipino seafarers to reach out, communicate and stay on course as the Philippines continues its fight with an economic recession. In a pastoral letter issued for International Day of the Seafarer on June 25, the CBCP said the Church recognized their struggle amid the coronavirus pandemic. The bishops also reminded them to have faith and courage in God and in themselves. “These lockdowns, quarantines and closing of companies are added storms to our earthly journey. But remember, even if the waves are big and the winds are so strong, we have to raise our sail and keep our hands on deck,” said the bishops. The prelates also told seafarers of the ups and downs of life and of the determination and perseverance needed to reach port, the end of the journey.
“Life has its ups and downs. It presents many cruel trials and costly troubles. Yet we go on in life. We set our sights on the shore, on our port,” the bishops added. The pastoral statement was in response to an increase in suicides and depression among Filipino seafarers. On June 11, a 28-year-old Filipina who worked on a cruise ship committed suicide in her cabin while waiting for repatriation. Government authorities have said depression and anxiety have stretched the Filipino spirit to “breaking point.” “We are tartly reminded that Filipino resilience is no excuse to stretch them to breaking point. We are not made of rubber. We are humans,” said Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. on social media. Government figures also said thousands would remain and stay jobless in the Philippines due to canceled working contracts. Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque told reporters in May that more than 20,000 seafarers had been repatriated due to the economic recession brought about by Covid-19. Reports also said thousands had arrived in the Philippines but were under quarantine in government and private medical facilities in Manila. Despite all these setbacks, the bishops reminded Filipino seafarers to be focused and firm, reminding them of the words of Jesus. “You may be beset by storms of seasickness, separation and sadness but don’t waver, don’t be perturbed. Stay on course and remember Jesus, the captain of your soul, is telling you, 'Take courage! It is I. Do not be afraid,'” said the bishops. Ten percent of the Philippines’ gross domestic product comes from the salaries overseas workers send to their families. President Rodrigo Duterte, however, claimed the Philippine economy has bled with the repatriation and unemployment of thousands of overseas Filipino workers.
Support UCA News...
As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.
That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.
Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.
UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.
And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.
We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.
With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.
Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...