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Solon urges PMMA alumni: Educate lawmakers on maritime industry


 ON the 45th year of their Association, graduates of the nation’s premier maritime institution, the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy (PMMA), have been given an important task that could have lasting  impact on the landscape of the maritime industry.
    Last Friday, August 22, 2014, officers and members of the PMMA Alumni Association gathered to observed their Association’s  45th anniversary.
    The Association opted for a somewhat sober celebration of its founding.  There were no gorgeous ladies gyrating in some skimpy clothes on stage in contrast with previous celebrations, but this should not be misconstrued that the organization is slowing down. 
    In fact, it’s the contrary.
    The past year of the association could be considered probably the most fruitful in its 45-year history since Capt. Danilo Venida, now based in Australia, led its founding in 1969.
    Under its two-term president, Capt. Gaudencio “Jess” Morales, the PMMA Alumni Association was able to build its Alumni House at the PMMA Complex in San Narciso, Zambales, which was inaugurated in December 2013.

Flagship project
JUST more than a month later, the association held a ground breaking ceremony, this time, to pave the way for the construction of its Alumni Center in Makati City. Construction is still in full swing and it is expected to be completed ahead of schedule for the target inauguration of the PMMA Alumni Center in December 2014. 
    The Center will rise on the 240 square meter prime property that the association earlier acquired for the purpose on Boyle St. corner Dian St. in Palanan, Makati City.
    Designed to generate income for the organization, the Center, once completed, will be managed by the PMMA Alumni Foundation, which Capt. Morales also heads. 
    “There will be two offices on the ground floor,” he told Seaway.  One will be for the Alumni Association and the other will be for rent to any interested party.
    “The second floor will be a dormitory with four bedrooms with double decks,” Capt. Morales said.  It could accommodate at least 30 persons. 
    It looks like its dormitory will not have problems with future leasees since the burgeoning TSM Group is just a couple of blocks away from the Alumni Center.
    The roof deck will be used as venue for various functions of the Association; it can also be rented out to manning companies for their events.
    These multi-million peso projects, the Alumni House and the Alumni Center, are by no means mediocre by any standards.

Role in the industry
ANOTHER important development for the association is its growing role not only in crewing but for the entire maritime industry as well.
    From a virtual nobody in the industry some decades ago, the PMMA Alumni Association has started to make its existence felt in major developments in the industry.     
    It recently gained recognition from established industry groups such as the Joint Manning Group, which invited the Association to become its Associate Member, as well as from government agencies in the maritime industry, notably the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA).
    Being the first group to extend help to MARINA in resolving its problems over office space and lack of computer hardware certainly boosted its stature in the industry, further gaining the respect of the manning community. The association, courtesy of Capt. Morales, offered free office space to MARINA at the Jemarson Bldg. in Ermita, Manila and provided 10 additional sets of computers and printers with scanners. Around 30 MARINA employees still hold office at the building to this day.
    The most significant however was the invitation extended by  to the association to share its position during public hearings for the bill that became R.A. 10635 that designated MARINA as the single maritime Administration.
    “Our association was given by the House of Representatives and the Senate the opportunity to participate in the deliberation and eventual passage of R.A. 10635 championed by Cong. Jess Manalo HM Class ’81,” Capt. Morales reported to over 300 fellow alumni gathered at the Palacio de Maynila to celebrate their association’s founding anniversary.
    Even media outfits have sought, through Capt. Morales, the association’s positions in various issues affecting not only the Academy, but also the Filipino seafarers and the maritime industry as well, indicating its stand those on issues and concerns carry some weight.
    In spite of its new found influence, the association would continue to opt for moderation. Instead of an adversarial position, the association under Capt. Morales would generally adopt a supporting role to established authorities in the industry.
    Amid differing positions on certain issues, “our association remains steadfast, we will always be part of the solution in every industry concerns,” the Alumni president emphasized in his anniversary message.
    “Tayo po ay magpapatuloy na aktibo kasama ng ibang stakeholders gaya ng JMG, ng AMOSUP, at iba pang organisasyon sa paghahanap ng tamang solusyon at direksyon para tugunan ang kasalukuyan at hinaharap na problema ng industriya (We will continue to remain active along with other stakeholders such as JMG, AMOSUP and other organizations in finding appropriate solutions and direction to address present and future problems of the industry),” he told his fellow alumni.

More VIPs join the association
WITH its prestige and growing influence in the industry, the association has begun to attract personalities to its fold. More and more national figures are joining its ranks; they are honored to be invited as honorary members of different classes of the association.
    They are Angkla Partylist Rep. Manalo Class ‘81, MARINA Administrator Maximo Mejia, Jr. HM Class ’84, and DIWA Partylist Rep. Emmeline Aglipay HM Class ‘97, just to name a few.
    A year earlier, it was the leading presidential hopeful Vice President Jejomar Binay who was adopted by PMMA Class ‘73.
    “They add prestige to the association. More importantly, they serve as the association’s links to high places in the government.  Mas madali na silang lapitan kung may gustong i-promote ang alumni (This makes it easier for  alumni to approach them if they something to promote for) the interest of the industry,” commented C/E Guilbert Llamado, secretary-general of the Alumni Association.
    The latest national figure to join the association is Sen. Allan Peter Cayetano, who showed up that evening for his induction as honorary member of Class ‘90.
    Appreciative of the gesture -- his adoption into the PMMA Alumni Association -- as well as his heightened appreciation of the maritime industry, Sen. Cayetano has found a new role for his fellow alumni.

Fresh mandate
NOTING that most members of the
Legislative branch have very scant knowledge of the maritime industry, particularly the crewing sector that accounts for over $5B of the country’s foreign exchange income, he called on graduates of the Academy to help educate government officials especially lawmakers on the importance of the industry in the national economy.
    Legislators have very little understanding of the maritime industry. This dearth of working knowledge on the maritime industry is one of the reasons maritime-related bills, even those that seek to amend obsolete laws enacted during pre-war years, have nil chance of getting congressional nod.
    DOnning a PMMA Alumni jacket, Sen. Cayetano urged PMMA alumni: “Reach out to lawmakers, educate them”.
    The senator, one  the more promising politicians in the national political arena today, was emphatic as he  exhorted  graduates of the state-owned maritime institution to serve as bridge between the government and the maritime industry.
    The lawmaker took note of the fact that many members of the association are  themselves owners of shipping-related firms or hold key positions in manning companies.
    Elated by the senator’s recognition of their  influential role in the industry and the government, many PMMA alumni are raring to respond positively to Sen. Cayetano’s call.
    Speaking on behalf of the alumni, Capt. Morales said the Association is more than willing to respond to the new task given by the senator.
     “Not only the government and lawmakers, we are also ready to raise the issues of seafarers to industry stakeholders,” Capt. Morales, also president of the Integrated Seafarers of the Philippines (ISP), told Seaway.
    He also expressed appreciation to the invitation extended by Sen. Cayetano to the Alumni Association and the ISP to bring to the latter’s attention issues that will advance the interest of the maritime industry.
    This is a testament of the growing influence of the graduates of the government-run institution in maritime industry.

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