Tragedies really home-in on me especially when I feel that I could, in one way or another, relate to it. The sinking of shipping vessels, starting with MV Princess of the Stars to the recent Baleno Nine really, ‘strikes home’.
I have been sailing to and fro for at least two years between Batangas and Mindoro because of a personal relationship that I used to have. And over the course of those two years I have accumulated an envelope-ful of tickets. (Yep, I enjoy keeping souvenirs of my trips, however near that trip may be.)
My first impulse when I heard about Baleno, was to rummage through my ticket-souvenirs to see if I have been to that particular Baleno. Well, no, I did not. I have boarded instead a Baleno Five. But, all the same, I have some things to say about these vessels.
I can still remember that it was a last choice. As I had to make an ambush appointment before some personal relations get severed, I was compelled to board the Baleno. Topping it all of course was that the fare was cheap.
Small and rusty (common I would believe for such things that have spent almost most of their lives on water), filth would the first thing that would greet you. I can still remember that I opted to stand for the whole duration of the trip because, although I am not that the segregator-type of person, the seats were simply dirty. I cannot be so sure about this, but it seemed that the small ship is not focused on passengers but rather cargoes. In the end, I am not that surprised that a Baleno should meet demise like that – obliteration under a fair weather.
They may eventually reason out the big waves, which some travelers to the place say they often feel and see during December, but it really boils down to that singular issue of the ships’ sea-worthiness.
I would agree to those media commentators that we should not wait for sea accidents again and again for us review policies on the sea-worthiness of ships – both cargo and passenger ones – for the very nature of our country, an archipelagic one, should be an impetus enough to specify coherent rules and security for the people and the ships. The habit of issuing tickets to people that should have been given to some one else, as I have experienced, should be stopped now. Importance should be given to the manifestoes, and reiterate to the travelers that it is just as important as their lives, and not just a nuisance in a busy pier-terminal.
Yes, to a certain extent, the agency that handles the ships and sea travel is still existing and doing their job. But look at the seeming monument now of Princess of the Stars? From that recent tragedy, have we seen more stringent measures to ensure the safety of all the people using sea travel? I don’t think so. For in just a span of two years, the news has been replete with tragedies of similar nature.
In this form, I am getting really personal. Indeed. For I personally love traveling by ship, looking out the wide expanse of water ending only to the horizons, the islands one passes by, the occasional dolphins. But altogether, it is not all about the aesthetic side of traveling by sea. It is ultimately on the safety of the travelers on one hand, and the proper handling of the agencies on their rules and policies.
I do not want to see myself getting to that point where I have to force my way through people just to grab one of those short-supplied life jackets.