Karaoke and the National Seafarers’ Day

IT IS AN understatement to say that karaoke is a central part of the Filipino pop culture, including seafarers whether on board or in between contracts.

Karaoke is, indeed, a favorite past time of Filipino seafarers. It is one of their coping mechanisms aboard international and domestic shipping vessels to address stress and boredom.

 The sea can’t stop the seafarers in mastering the art of vocal mimicry from contagiously belting out songs like the infamous “My Way.”

Karaoke is the clipped compound of Japanese kara (empty) and ōkesutora (orchestra) that is an interactive entertainment in which an amateur singer sings along with recorded music (or a music video) using a microphone.

The music is normally an instrumental version of a well-known popular song. Lyrics are usually displayed on a video screen, along with a moving symbol, changing color, or music video images, to guide the singer.

The world’s first karaoke machine, the Juke-8, was built by Japanese inventor and musician Daisuke Inoue in 1971. But it is Filipino inventor Roberto del Rosario of Trebel Music Corp. who holds the machine’s patent for the Karaoke Sing-Along System in 1975.

In between contracts, Pinoy seafarers and maritime students converging along Kalaw show their singing prowess through a weekly show organized by volunteers.

As part of the National Seafarers Day ( NSD) celebration this year, the Boses ng Marino Karaoke Challenge will be included in the Pasiklaban Musicfest at the Asian Institute of Maritime Studies, followed by the battle of the bands.

A sunset environmental concert dubbed “Harana sa Inang Dagat” by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Symphonic and Combo Band will likewise be held along Baywalk in Roxas Boulevard. It will pay homage to the oceans and seas to keep our seafarers safe in their voyage. 

Harana was an exclusively nocturnal practice which gained popularity in the early part of the Spanish Period, widely practiced in many parts of the Philippines with a set of protocols, a code of conduct, and a specific romantic style of music. 

Organized in 2000, the PCG band is composed of both junior and senior ranking noncommissioned officers who represented the institution in the different parts of the country, be it for entertainment, advertisement and for keeping the PCG’s vision, mission and primary functions thru musical entertainment.

The Philippines is considered a major supplier of maritime labor globally; it is estimated that there is one Filipino seafarer for every four to five complements on board a vessel at any time.

The estimated 337,502 deployed Filipino seafarers in 2018 remitted $6.14 billion or around P318.55 billion. The sea-based sector’s remittance comprises at least 22 percent of the total dollar remittances of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). These remittances help spur domestic consumption in the Philippines and a key ingredient in the country’s drive to achieve higher but sustainable growth.

Former president Fidel V. Ramos issued on July 9, 1996 Proclamation No. 828 declaring Aug. 18 as National Seafarers’ Day aimed at giving due recognition to the vital role of Filipino seafarers towards the development of the Philippines as a maritime country. Later, Proclamation No. 1094 was issued in 1997 by President Ramos moving NSD to every last Sunday of September every year.

The Apostleship of the Sea (AOS) Philippines was tasked to coordinate with the public and private sectors in activities related to the celebration of said event.

This year’s NSD is set on Sept. 29, 2019 with the theme “Marinong Filipino- Kababaihan: Palakasin sa Industriya!” in line with 2019 World Maritime Day theme (Empowering Women in the Maritime Community).

The Sunday masses during the NSD all over the country are offered to the Filipino seafarers.

Other weeklong NSD activities nationwide led by AOS include memorial at sea, novenas, oratorical / art / photo contest, search for the Ten Outstanding Maritime Students of the Philippines (TOMSP) and  the grand parade participated in by stakeholders.

The NSD coincides with the National Maritime Week celebrated every last week of September spearheaded alternatively by the government agencies Maritime Industry Authority, Philippine Coast Guard and Philippine Ports Authority.


Atty. Dennis R. Gorecho heads the seafarers’ division of the Sapalo Velez Bundang Bulilan law offices. For comments, email [email protected], or call 09175025808 or 09088665786)./PN


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