How Ships and Strong Men Survive Storms?


Storm. A violent disturbance of the atmosphere. As we say the word a catastrophic image emerges in our heads. There’s thunder and lighting. In some places, there may even be sand and snow. Strong winds accompany heavy rain which makes the situation even worse. It creates havoc as properties are destroyed and precious lives are lost.

Disturbing. Dreadful. Disastrous.

Anyone wouldn’t want to be caught in the midst of it, right?


Cruise ship in the middle of a storm

At sea, storms are horrible experiences. When I was still working on cruise ships I had my fair share of unwelcomed encounters with them. It can be quite scary especially when you see towering walls of water slamming into the ship. It’s certainly nerve-wracking to look at how angry waves forcefully toss us from right to left. The turbulence was very evident and it’s easy to feel nervous and helpless.

Yet no matter how heavily battered these massive water structures are, they can endure bouts of ruthless weather. A ship’s survival during harrowing times at sea is dependent on three things.

1. Sophisticated Technology

Cruise ships of our time have state-of-the-art weather forecasting equipment. The ship’s Bridge has maps, satellites, and computers to keep track of the weather. Cruise lines also have control centers that track the position of their ships. Some even have designated meteorologists to inform them of big storms and hurricanes. All these give an extra layer of protection for the ship.

2. Sailor’s Skill

A cruise ship or any other ship can’t move on its own. Strong engines power this floating hotel as it sails. Highly-skilled and well-trained sailors run these engines. Aside from the technical knowledge, it takes courage and commitment to execute a safety plan when in the throes of storms. Thousands of lives depend on them. It requires a lot to make good judgment when threatened by heavy rains, flooding, and tumultuous winds.

3. Ship Itself

The repeated impact of the waves can potentially damage the ship and break it apart. This can most likely happen especially if the pounding is too hard. There is always the threat of listing, capsizing, and the most feared of all – sinking. But let’s not forget that ships are made for moving. Ships can go through cruel seas because they have technology that stabilizes them. They are made of heavy steel. The presence of guests and crew also adds to their weight. While under construction ships go through rigorous tests that include storm simulation. They also do sea trials to make sure they are ready to sail.


Woman in the midst of a storm

Storms not only happen at sea but also in our lives. Life storms can happen at any moment. Unlike sea storms that can be predicted and avoided, life storms can catch us unaware and off-guard. None of us want to go through storms. These are storms in our finances, in our jobs, and in our relationships whether they be family or friends.

COVID-19 which is wreaking havoc across the globe up to now carries no water nor wind. But like any other storm, it created a sense of futility, bewilderment, and fear that was too much for anyone to bear. 2020 is nearing its end and the once elusive vaccine is finally being tested. However, in other parts of the world, the virus continues to spread.

As of December 13, the World Health Organization (WHO) recorded that there are more than 1.6 million deaths. Currently, there are over 71 million confirmed cases in 218 countries and territories. Left and right businesses are going bankrupt and people are losing their jobs. This has certainly left many powerless, confused, disappointed, angry, and depressed.

Like ships that brave the ruthless storms across the sea, men can muster the strength and courage to overcome life storms. We, too, can emerge victorious long before the calm. Coronavirus will also pass. It may not get weaker but we can get stronger to fight its wrath.

Inspired by my many years as a seafarer, these are things I believe we can do to stay positive in these challenging times.

1. Skip

Bad weather can affect cruise lines schedules and itineraries. Cruises get canceled rarely unless the storm will hit the port where the guests will embark. The captain might delay departure by a few hours, worse a day or so. Sometimes, he can also switch the order of the scheduled ports. A port may be skipped altogether if the seas are too rough. The cruise can be shortened or lengthened depending on what he thinks is safe.

How does this relate to life? Well, sometimes things happen unexpectedly that force us to drop our plans. Skip the joy brought by things we desire and trade them with what’s immediate and important NOW. Sad, isn’t it? Especially when you’ve painted a very clear picture of what you really want. Only to realize in the end that there’s no way they will happen. Instead of feeling sorry, let’s encourage ourselves. Skip and delays do not equate with no or never. Not yet. Have the patience to wait a little longer.

2. Think

When storms threaten the path of ships, combined efforts are required. Headquarters staff back up the crew onboard. Weather forecast companies and meteorologists supply them with relevant information. Involved parties think with the aid of advanced technology so they know where to take the ship. Warnings are given to prepare for imminent danger.

Somehow it’s okay to say that seafarers are in a better position when battling storms. Warnings help them calculate their moves. Though nothing can ever prepare you for a disaster, it never hurts to be notified. For most people, this is not the case. Oftentimes, you don’t get the slightest clue that something horrific is about to come. The big bully just shows itself, knocks you out, and laughs. Don’t cry. Find the will to stand up. Think things through and answer the big question of “What’s next?” Come up with emergency response plans and if you don’t have one ask around. Other people who have been through the same thing can show you how.

3. Outrun

Do not confront. Avoid. This has been a strategy that work for cruise lines across the board. If a more serious storm is in their path, cruise ships generally try to outrun or avoid them. If the weather is bad the ship will steer around hurricanes, massive storms, and bomb cyclones. Ships can meet speeds of up to 22 knots and beyond leaving storms that tend to move at only about 8 to 10 knots.

Now, what does this imply? I believe we can apply the same principle in real life. It’s okay to move forward and leave behind chaotic circumstances. This doesn’t mean escaping from what the real problem is. It’s more of thinking forward and being one step ahead of the game. Instead of feeling thwarted and stuck, you find ways to inch forward. You put objective frames around the bad experience and look at it as a catalyst for growth. You also change your self-talk. Instead of saying, “I’m done,” you say “I’m in this mess (breathe). What can I do next?”

4. Reroute

If adverse water is unavoidable, the cruise line may change the itinerary. The ship may dock or anchor at an alternate port. On lucky days you might end up in a beautiful place you didn’t expect to visit. The ship might change the order of the ports or go through more sea days to seek a sunny spot at sea. It’s not always easy to find replacements. Arrangements must be made to book the new ports.

Unexpected storms like the deadly virus can instantly alter the course of our lives. Suddenly we have to follow a very different trajectory despite our prior plans. While rerouting, take the detour with a cheerful heart and inquisitive eyes. Learn new skills and try new jobs. Make a living out of a new career you formerly don’t know anything about. Find the inner strength to cope constructively with the inevitable setbacks. Major storms are often defining moments in people’s lives. When dealt with correctly, this journey can be a self-curative process. It can contribute to our personal growth and cultivate greater resilience.

5. Move

Solid engineering and advanced technology can help ships move away from storms. But then, they cannot evade them entirely. Passengers will still feel the rough waters even when they reach far off places. Storm remnants will still be there to intimidate the ship, only with lesser intensity.

What does this teach us? Simple. Ships are made for moving. It knows how to roll with the waves. On its quest for safety, it might finally find the calmest patch of sea but it won’t stay there. That’s not how ships are built. We should do the same. Our hopes and expectations may be out of line with reality but we can’t afford to do nothing. It’s okay to rest but don’t wallow in despair. Keep moving so we know what lies ahead. We will encounter monster storms every now and then but we should not get discouraged. To cope with the calamity let’s refocus our attention and energy on something worth looking forward to. Rather than getting stuck in a web of disappointment that can turn into lingering sadness let’s dream again. Build new dreams and make them happen.


Finding true north

Storms in life are different from storms at sea. Most often than not, they come by surprise and catch us unprepared. No warnings. Sea storms are more or less predictable and so the damages are somehow preventable. On the other hand, most life storms are beyond our control.

COVID-19 is possibly one of the greatest storms I would ever have to combat in my lifetime. Maybe not only for me but for the rest of humanity. We all have our epic stories to tell the younger generation when our hair turns gray and our skin gets wrinkled.

2020 was supposed to be a very special year for me. I finally decided to do my last contract, a retirement from ship life that was long overdue. I was scheduled to join the Joy in May. It’s Alaska season and although the country is quite magical it doesn’t excite me very much anymore. I had the privilege to spend half of a contract there before. Besides, my mind is fixed on saving money.

This year will be momentous. I can finally settle some major bills that’s keeping me uptight for years. This is the year when I can take my family to travel. This is the year when I can go back to my “normal” self. I had to drop those plans in a snap of a finger. We had to make some quick changes since I technically lost my job. Things did not necessarily get canceled but were delayed. And for someone who waited that long to “come home” it is quite agonizing. I have mental pictures of what I want to do next. I already predicted my future and to my horror, fate taunted me in the end. What happened was quite the opposite of what I wished for and expected.

Going back on track is not easy. Getting up, brushing myself, and starting over is still a struggle on some days. I’m tempted to look back at what’s been gone. There are times when I find myself wishful thinking this whole thing didn’t happen. Thankfully, there is some special force out there that gently reminds me to trust the process. Get busy discovering new paths. Unexplored territories can bring us the greatest reward. Don’t let bitterness take root. Storms like this may not really meant to destroy us. See beneath the surface. The water may be running wild, but who knows what’s cooking underneath?

Looking at the big picture, we’re still blessed to embark on this fantastic journey called life. Yes, storms may happen every now and then. They will test our resilience, patience, and faith. Believe that something good will come out of it.

Find your true north and keep sailing. We can be tossed back and forth by the waves and blown here and there by every wind. But HE remains the same. Let’s fix our eyes on Him.

Don’t be a shipwreck.


Filipino seafarers on break

A Seafarer’s Definition

HIATUS. A pause or a gap in a sequence, series, or process. Sometimes it can be a short or long break. A stop of undetermined length.

To anyone who’s worked at sea, it can simply mean one thing. A contract has ended. It’s time to go home where another life awaits.

Home. That’s my current state. And I am having the best time with my family. I’ve been here for almost 7 weeks. And every day I feel excited. I’m away from ship and sea. Yet I’m surrounded by people who love me.

It’s been more than three months since I last picked up my pen. It’s been more than three months since I touched my laptop and pounded on its letters. What a lengthy break. It seemed like a pre-hiatus stage weeks before a seafarer’s real hiatus begins. But why? Here’s what exactly happened.

The Reason Behind

European Dream

Last March I had high hopes I can finally go to Europe. Soon the ship I was on will cross the Atlantic Ocean for a 14-day cruise. Then I received an unexpected news. I was getting transferred to a new ship that was getting refurbished in Singapore. So I packed my things with a heavy heart because I won’t be able to go to Barcelona or see Rome.

But I always thought that there are blessings in our struggles so I helped myself by thinking about the other beautiful places I will get the chance to explore. Aside from Singapore (which I also planned to see when I go home) I can visit Tokyo, Seattle, Alaska and its many lovely ports.  I flew and traveled for more than a day making short stops in New York and Frankfurt (So yeah for a few hours I smelled Europe). And on the 15th of March, I finally joined Norwegian Joy.

SG’s Curse and Gift

The days went fast as we were all busy helping for the Westernization Project of the gigantic ship. It used to be based in China, but it had a complete make over to get it ready for the US market. Yet no matter how tired I felt, I will always remember the bliss I was in every time our day job was done and we went out to experience Singapore’s unique beauty and amazing culture. I went to see lovely gardens, magnificent parks, man-made beaches, and gigantic shopping malls. I was also able to visit a dear friend I haven’t seen for so long. Most of all I was inspired by the discipline, cleanliness, and helpfulness of its people. The overall structure of this tiny country is truly first world. A thousand times I wished we can do the same thing back home. 

Things were going well and I felt that I was collecting so many wonderful memories. They were quickly piling up and I knew I should write about them. If they give me so much joy, they’re meant to be shared so other people will know and they, too will feel grateful. To my dismay, my laptop broke. A few days after, my SD card got corrupted, too.

My first question was not “Why” but “How”? How can I blog? How can I go from point A to point B? How can I translate what I felt and share what I learned when I can’t write? Buying a new laptop was not an option because I’ve already set my mind to buy only when I get home. I didn’t want to have it checked and repaired on the ship because I was trying to save money to add to my “laptop budget”. So I hesitantly took the bittersweet choice of putting the blog on hold and see how things will go from there. This was with a firm belief that everything will be okay no matter how uneasy the situation made me felt.

Lessons Learned

Looking back, I think it somehow did. Thanks to my old but highly dependable phone. I took lots of pictures and posted them on my social accounts. All these together with the most priceless reflections about the memories I’ve collected for the past months. And I guess I can say that even in small scales lives were touched, dreams were awakened, and hopes were stirred.

Also on a personal note, I’ve learned many things from this unexpected hiatus that was initially faced with doubt. These are the most precious points I’ve pondered on while on a looooong PAUSE.

P – Pray Without Ceasing. This is the sweetest point of all and certainly the most powerful. This has brought me closer to our Creator. I’ve learned to call on Him not just in times of joy and in times of trouble but also in the long gap between the two, where there’s confusion and when I don’t understand what’s going on. I’ve learned to trust Him more. To believe that everything happens for a reason. And it is never a bad reason. Praying has allowed me to be more grateful. I’ve learned to focus on what I have rather than what I don’t.

A – Accept Without Regret. This long pause has taught me to accept things as they are and to fight the urge to change my circumstance. How will you react when things are going fine then with a blink of an eye they just stop? It doesn’t make sense right. It’s natural to feel loss and to feel really bad. After so many days of thinking, I allowed myself to give up. But it’s giving up for a good cause. Surrendering temporarily but you know you’ll rise back up. It’s raising the white flag wholeheartedly without an ounce of regret. It’s quitting with peace that clears your thoughts and allows you to be more realistic but remain positive. It’s telling oneself it’s okay to lose. That’s part of the game. Now how do I get better? What can I do next?

U – Unwind Without Guilt. This is where my heart is happiest. This pause has given me so much joy. And it’s all because I’ve learned to be more “present”, to enjoy the gift of the moment and think less of what I will write. This pause has made me feel more connected to the beauty around me. I’ve seen things I dreamed to see – cherry blossoms, snow, glacier, old and new friends. I missed the Northern lights but that’s totally okay. I cannot complain. Unexpectedly I’ve seen many other beautiful things. Who knows? Maybe next contract, maybe next year.

S – Stand Without Shame. Yes we have to keep standing but there’s no need to feel ashamed. Stand no matter how disappointed you feel. Your feet may be tied. Sometimes even your hands. You may feel limited, but your minds cannot be stopped. Keep thinking and doing things to better yourself. Do not surrender. Do take the pause as an excuse to idle. Sweat out still. Do something. It doesn’t have to be big. Always remember that even the smallest thing we do for self-improvement will accumulate. Once the hiatus is over they will help us take a leap.

E – Expect Without Fear. This point is the most optimistic. Despite the short stop which can delay your plans and dreams do not grow weary of expecting nothing but the best. Do not fear about the uncertainty of the future. Believe with all your heart and might that things will be okay. That your wings are coming out and you will still get there. That our dreams can still happen. They’re just a few more tries away. After all the big guy up there holds us in the palm of His hands. Ask Him to help you overcome your unbelief and replace it with faith. That kind that can comfort and heal, tear down walls, open wide seas and move mountains.

Personal Reflections

Right now, the hiatus is over. I’m glad to be writing again. Thank You for the gift of pause. It has cleared my mind and made my heart more hopeful. These past few weeks at home has been a roller coaster of things and events I never planned, expected or wanted. I’m happy to have learned so many things from them.

It’s the first day of August and I’m only 9 days away from my birthday. I’m excited for all the things I will be writing and sharing. Each day is like a walk on cloud nine even though my head hurts with all the research and studies I’m currently doing. Yet I’m not griping. My vision is getting clearer. My values are getting stronger. And that vehicle that will take me towards my dream is getting more solid than ever.

Are you currently on an unwanted stop? Do not give up. Close your eyes, feel your heart and look up. He always got your back.

Follow your dreams.


Of Doors and Dreams

Of doors and dreams

My Epic Joy

Chapter 3 started two days ago. It’s now my second night here in Singapore. After flying for more than 20 hours, I’m finally on the Norwegian Joy. The ship is undergoing Westernization Project before it sails back to the US.

I’m thankful to have traveled with a new friend as we flew from Orlando, Florida after saying goodbye to Norwegian Epic. We made short stops in New York and Frankfurt. We arrived yesterday morning and was brought straight to Sembawang Shipyard where our new ship was waiting.

Tonight, all the gangways have been removed. The ship is now officially on dry dock. Crew members can no longer get off until the next day. Hopefully tomorrow I can go out after my training. Me and my Chinese friend (who is getting transshipped in three days) are both wishful thinking we can see some interesting parts of the country before she leaves.

Yesterday when I rode the shuttle and traversed the roads of this foreign country, I was reminded of an old dream. My body was weak and exhausted, yet my heart was full. I can’t help but be thankful. I’m glad that dream didn’t come true. I’m glad You said, “NO!!! That dream was not meant for you.”

Fly Me to Singapore

Some years ago, I was heart-broken. We found out Papa passed away and I was in a very deep pain. For so long, I waited to see him again. I remember lonely bus rides from Bulacan very early in the morning just to be in time for work in a school in QC where I used to teach. I would see greens through the clear windows that would normally relax me and help me pass the time. But because of the hurt, I would see them, felt nothing and just cried. Quiet tears rolled down my face as I tried to figure out why.

The many nights in my room when I go back home was the saddest of all. I would lie down on my bed and would cry non-stop until dawn. I cried myself to sleep, questioning God and asking for a reason. The next day and the many days after, I did the very same things again. I thought the lonely routine can numb the pain. I was wrong.

And then a crazy thought came into my mind. I was desperate. “ESCAPE!” the voice inside me said. Run away from the pain. Forget about everything. But where? I kept thinking. Then an answer came. Go to Singapore because it’s near. Because I have friends there. Because they’re in need of teachers.

I started planning and saving money. To better prepare myself, I studied the requirements and asked other people for help. I also compiled my documents. When the school year was about to end and I was determined to leave, I told my boss about it so they can look for my replacement. I wanted to be fair because she’s a good friend. And every people in that school where I used to work has shown me nothing but kindness.

Stumbling Blocks and Frustrations

I passed my application online to Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower. Once granted, I’ll be allowed to stay in their country for a year while looking for a job. I wanted to do it the right way. I didn’t want to go there as a tourist and apply for employment during my stay. Anyway, I had strong belief that my application will be accepted. I didn’t see any reason for them to turn me down. My credentials were good. I had teaching experience and the love and passion to work with kids.

My assumptions were wrong again. For some weird reason, they started to see minor errors in the documents that I submitted. At first, they saw that my names were misspelled. I had it corrected, returned the papers and then…

My graduation date was entered incorrectly. I went through the same process and patiently waited. Every time I would pass my corrected documents, it would take days sometimes even weeks before I would hear an answer. There were so many applicants during that time and they were busy checking everyone’s files. This went on for months as they found a few more errors which back then I couldn’t understand. I waited in agony.  Initially I was brimming with hope. Later on, it turned into despair. I just wanted to find a place to heal. I just wanted to restore myself. Why can’t other people help?

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives and the one who seeks, finds and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. (Matthew 7:7)

Well I asked and sought and knocked. But guess what? Nobody answered. Nobody showed up. Sadly, nobody opened the door.

I was running low on budget. My savings were quickly going away. I felt horrible and disappointed. I can’t afford to just stand still and do nothing. My family was expecting me to help with the expenses. The meager amount I was getting from the temporary jobs I took during that time was not enough to cover the bills and provide for our needs.

Someone Said Hello

And then when I was about to hit rock bottom, something glorious happened. While I was contemplating what to do next, I received a text message. And this unexpected message changed the course of my life journey.

I read it quickly. I was more shocked than thrilled. It was an invitation for an interview to work on ships. The strange thing was, I submitted my application to this agency two years prior, not willingly but more so to please Mama who’s been pushing me to work outside the country so I can earn more money. I read it again trying to make sense of it and all the crazy things that seemed to crush me then. I guess there’s no harm in trying. And so, I did.

The next day, I found myself in a small office in Kalaw Avenue. I sat in front of the fleet manager who was so puzzled to see me there. I tried so hard to convince him I should get the job. And with God’s amazing grace, I got it. Within a few minutes, I felt redeemed. The frustration brought by the looooooooong wait for something that was not for me vanished. Truly, God can change one’s destiny in a snap of a finger. Only if it’s His will.

I joined my very first ship December of 2011. Pacific Dawn was my first ship. I must say, ship life has been one of the most incredible journeys I have ever taken. I explored amazing countries, met wonderful friends, and discovered my stronger, better, and wiser self. Most importantly, I saw God’s face.

The God I Know

The shuttle stopped. We’re in Sembawang Shipyard. I saw my new ship, my home for the next exciting three months. Now everything made sense. I began to understand. I was ignorantly knocking on the wrong door after all. What I then thought to be a rejection was in fact a redirection preparing me for an even brighter future. Thank You for leading me to the right door.

Have you ever been rejected? Have you failed many times before? Once you audition your dreams, not everyone will listen. Along the way you might get turned down. Not everyone will give you a chance. You might feel defeated and I know it’s an ugly feeling. Please encourage yourself. Don’t lose hope. Never give up on your dreams. Remember my story and how I found my door.

If one door closes, don’t feel sorry. The world will not end. Just keep looking and knocking. Just keep praying and believing. For God will open doors. Mind you, He knows which doors to open. He knows how to pick the best out there. Believe me. He makes things beautiful in His way, in His terms and in His time.

Follow your dreams.


Lessons from Disneyland


This week is my dear friend’s last cruise. I’m still dreaming about our last cruise’s adventure.

When Norwegian Epic cruise ship went for an emergency stop due to engine failure, the cruise schedule abruptly changed. We couldn’t sail straight away. We were delayed for almost two days. We stayed in Port Canaveral and loaded guests. But we waited for the engine to get fixed before we finally started to move again.

My friend and I had a crazy idea the night before. Let’s go to Disneyland! We’ll go see Mickey Mouse no matter what.

And so we did. Thanks for the help of good friends even strangers who moved mountains just to make things possible for us.

We rode a car and traveled for more than an hour. Are we there yet? Like young kids we couldn’t wait. Our eyes were fixed on the windows looking for signs to tell us we’re heading close. A sweet dream is within our reach. We couldn’t be more excited.


And the long wait was worth it. The minute we’re inside the park, we were not disappointed. I couldn’t help but cry. I was emotional and thrilled at the same time. I thought of Papa and all the other dreams I made as a child. I thought, “Some dreams don’t die.” They just lie idle in our minds. When the time is right God will bring them back to life.

Lessons from Disneyland
Disney’s Dreamland

This special place is a huge melting pot of ideas, dreams, and gifts. I’m grateful to have explored it with a good friend. We walked around like kids. Strolling in awe. Overwhelmed and beyond excited. Gladly taking in all the beauty and magic.

I stood in front of a magnificent castle where a grand parade ended. I realized that there is no scarcity of gifts. And when we work together with the talents we’re blessed with, we give birth to a masterpiece. Then we give joy and service to our families, friends and people we won’t even meet.

You might be wondering what gifts you have? What you can share? Or how do you serve? That’s okay. Questions are good. They make you want to look for answers. Many years ago, I was on the same place. Confused, without focus, no solid dreams, lacking confidence, having only little faith.


Bo Sanchez once shared, “Nothing remains small in the big hands of God.”  And I found it to be true. When we believe, God’s heart is touched. He gives us courage. He gives us healing. He gives us wisdom. He gives us love.  You see that little faith grew. That little faith helped me find myself, my gifts, and my dreams. I took a special journey towards self-discovery at sea. My experiences on ships molded me.

After working on cruise ships for a long time, I discovered that gifts are connected to one’s dreams and ultimately to one’s life purpose. These are some important lessons I learned about gifts. Hopefully, these lessons will help you too. It doesn’t matter whether you haven’t found your gifts yet or you know exactly what they are.

The first and most important lesson of all – God is the giver of gifts. All gifts are from Him as all beautiful things are. “He formed our inmost being. He knit us in our mother’s womb.” He planted deep desires in our hearts that can be fulfilled using the gifts He blessed us with. Achieving our dreams will bless the world and will bring glory to His name. To make our dreams real, there are three things we must do with our gifts. They are  G-O-D.

The G-O-D


The first step is to give. It is by giving that we’ll discover our gifts. It is through service that we’ll know what talents we have. When we help others wholeheartedly and selflessly, we find out our interests and our skills which are related to our gifts. Our gift is something we like and we’re good at.

My many years of teaching and working with kids helped me discover my gift in organizing and communicating ideas. Inside a tiny classroom, I found my happy place. I thoroughly enjoyed telling stories to kids and helping them read. Little did I know that one day I will share my adventures on ships and the lessons I got from the sea.

There are also other gifts I found. They are not necessarily skills nor talents, but they are what make up my personality – the core of who I am. My gentle and quiet spirit bless the people I’m with because I bring them peace. My patience for others makes them want to be more understanding and kind, too. My faith in the Lord and everything good encourages them to stay optimistic and to always have hope.

So go out there and serve. Dirty your hands even when it’s hard. You have to work and give it your all. It may seem that nothing is happening right now but in time you will reap the rewards of your labor.


The second step is to own. It is by owning our gifts that we’ll distinguish ourselves. Owning our gifts gives us a better understanding of who we are. Owning our gifts means accepting their strengths and their limits. Owning our gifts means accepting that our gifts are all different. Our gifts are not equal but equivalent because God is not a boring God. He enjoys variety. Our varied gifts bring color to the world. Our God is also a strategic God. He makes sure we’ll need each other. He wants us to work together in our weaknesses and strengths. Then He’ll cover the difference.

When I first started doing ships, I hated the parties in the open deck. My job required me to dance in front of cruising passengers. Every time the island party is on, I would wear my floral dress and a fake smile on my face. I would think of my teacher friends and the difference they make in the life of young students. And I would feel so little of myself. For while they were out there doing something noble and making a difference, I was on a big ship dancing Macarena. And the worst part, I sucked at it. I can’t dance. I can’t sing. I’m too shy and too quiet.

But then through the years, I realized that it was just a pruning stage for me. I realized that I don’t have to be upset if I can’t do those things. I can be good at something else. Since my gift is communication, I looked for opportunity to use it. I tried hosting shows, events, and parties for families and kids on the ship. I shared stories of my adventures and lessons learned through the Internet hoping that in my own little way I can be the difference that I seek.


The third step is doing. It is when we do or act on our gifts that we develop them. We work not just at the start but also in the end. It is actually a non-stop doing. We don’t content ourselves with simply knowing what our gifts are. We have to seek every opportunity to better if not perfect them.

When we improve our gifts, we improve ourselves. Then we bring more value to others. We make not just own dreams come true but we help others go to where they want to go, too. We make many many more dreams come true.

When I finally owned my gift, I deliberately sought ways to use them even when it’s inconvenient. Even when I’m too shy to stand in front and talk. Even when I’m scared people won’t listen to me. Even when I fear nobody would read my stories. When we want to develop our gifts, we find the will to do the right thing to do no matter how uneasy we feel.


This website is something very special to me. It houses adventures and lessons learned that are anchored on my gift which is to communicate and to teach. It is also my gift to the world and to all young Filipinos wishing to work at sea. This site aims to inspire and to guide. This site aims to move people to act in courage, joy and faith.

Like me, the site is also on its journey. There are still many things to work on. There are still many things I don’t know. But all big dreams start with a first step so here it is. In all its simplicity, it seeks to one day leave a legacy.

Are you still wondering what your gifts are? Don’t feel bad. Help always comes. God will meet you where you are. He will use you where you are and bless you where you are. So cheer up!

Thank you Kooki, Villain, Rebel and Hazel for this wonderful Disney memory that I truly won’t forget. Here’s to all our gifts that we’ll share with love. And to all our dreams that we’ll pursue with courage.

Follow your dreams.


Detours and Delays

The dark clouds that brought rain showers had been ominous. This has been quite a challenging cruise. Norwegian Epic left Port Canaveral on the 9th of February with high hopes of seeing Tortola, St. Thomas, and the private island Great Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas. For some reasons, everything went completely wrong.

Second Day

On our second day at sea, our captain made an unexpected announcement. This was a day after a small fire started in one area of the ship. Early on, we could sense that something was not right. We obviously slowed down. There was no storm, but the waves were splashing like crazy tossing our ship mercilessly from side to side. It was scary. The tension heightened when the captain broke the bad news. We cannot make it to the first port. There was a minor problem with the engine and we are cancelling Road Town. Instead of going to Tortola, we are heading for Puerto Rico to have the engine fixed.

Straight lines don't lead to your destiny all the time. (The Hanging Parasols of Puerto Rico)
The hanging parasols of San Juan, Puerto Rico

The many hours of waiting was a complete drag. We reached the port the following day, 7 o’clock at night. And in the terminal when we’re about to stop, the ship crashed into the pier. The incident left two big dents on the ship’s side.

Third Day

My friend and I waited patiently to go out. We rushed to the gangway once we’re told that crew members can now go for shore leave. Just an hour of strolling around, hoping to see something beautiful. We bought fridge magnets which has been a seafarer’s tradition. Collecting small pieces of mementos to remind us of memories made in foreign lands. I wish we stayed longer. I wish I was not IPM the next day. But then I only had that one special hour to spare. Who knows? Maybe next time we’ll come back here again.

We had to stay longer in Puerto Rico because the engine was not fixed yet. Because we started sailing late, the second port was also canceled. Goodbye St. Thomas! Welcome to two crazy days at sea before we arrive at the last and final port. GSC! Wait for us. You’re the only port the guests would see based on the original itinerary.

Fourth Day

Complaints were heard everywhere. Nasty words about the ship and the company were blatantly spoken. We can’t blame them. It’s supposed to be their holiday. Due to unforeseen turn of events, their plans were ruined.

It would have been so nice if we reach the private island in the Bahamas. It would have been some sort of consolation. We would have been given the chance to somehow control the damage, pacify the guests, and leave them with nothing but the best on the last day. Something they can take home with them. Something to coat the bad with the good in the end.

Fifth Day

To our dismay, the captain made another announcement. Although a lot of people already speculated that the last port will also be cancelled, we held on to that tiny piece of hope that we’ll make it. But I guess this cruise is just meant to be “epic.” Unfortunately, in a very frustrating way. To make things worse, we won’t arrive in Port Canaveral on time tomorrow. Instead of reaching the home port in the morning, we’ll arrive at approximately 8 in the evening.

The guests were fuming. And that’s quite understandable. This delay means cancelled flights, changes in schedules, and late returns to home. In an effort to lighten their agony, they were offered free flights to go home and huge discounts in their ship purchases including future cruises. They were given the option to stay for one more night if they wish to fly the next day. A lot of fun stuff were also happening just to keep them busy and entertained. Crew internet was shut down to keep the guests’ signal high and so they can easily go online.

Worse/ Glorious Day???

Two opposing reactions surfaced in this unlikely event. Others willingly accepted their fate and resigned to the idea that maybe this trip is not meant for them.  Instead of casting judgment, they would rather enjoy the moment. Some remained angry and chose to wallow in all the negativity. They look for people to blame. They won’t stop beefing.  

Here I am immersed in this series of unfortunate events that do not seem to end. I also had some plans for this cruise, but obviously they didn’t happen. Even the activities I wish to do the cruise after have to wait as we’re not even sure when we’ll sail again. I guess I won’t be able to go to Cayman Islands and swim with sting rays. Now I regret skipping the tour thinking we’ll go back there a few more times before my contract ends. Surprisingly, I don’t feel hysterical. I delight myself in the anticipation of other good things to come. Thank You I feel a little down, but You gave me the grace to stay calm.

Terrific Takeaways

This past week has taught me important lessons. In life, whether you’re on ships or not, detours and delays abound. Instead of looking at them as walls that prevent us from reaching our destination, they are meant to bridge the gap between where we are right now to where we want to go. And if we look with fresh and positive eyes, they can add colors to our adventures.

I have three terrific takeaways from this cruise. When threatened by delays and overwhelmed by detours consider these lessons.


By this I mean to take things as they are rather than forcing them to change. Practice less if not zero resistance and learn to accept your current circumstance.  No matter how powerful we think we are, there are things we cannot control. it is always best practice to plan ahead of time. But keep in mind that there is still no guarantee it will roll out fine. We have little power on the outside but we can be the master of our insides. We can control our thoughts, our expectations and our reactions.  Acceptance of things and situation as they unfold no matter how bad they are and not as how we want them to be has its own reward. Acceptance gives us peace.


Now this one is harder than the first. Why give thanks when the waiting and disappointment caused by delays is unbearable? And the detours we come face to face lead to long and winding roads? It’s insane. But upon contemplation, one will realize that it is perhaps the most sensible thing to do. Because despite all the troubles, there are still so many things to be thankful for. If we have the right perspective, the good no matter how little can outweigh the giant bad. Also giving thanks kills the negativity in one’s system. If you’re grateful for things no matter how small they are, you find more and more things to be thankful for. You feel blessed. You become a magnet and attract more blessings. Before you know it, you’re up and happy again. Giving thanks gives us joy.


This one is the most exciting of all. And with this, I encourage you to think not of your own thoughts but of His. For His thoughts are supreme and reigns over all. Thinking of His thoughts will lead us to trust Him more. To trust is not easy. It can be a little scary. It requires surrendering one’s plans and the humility to bow down. Think of all His thoughts and believe that wonderful things will come. Put your trust in the Master Creator who is busy orchestrating events, maneuvering every move, lining up the right people, and preparing the best surprise. Trusting requires “giving in” which may temporarily rob us of peace and joy but leave us with hope for brighter tomorrows.  

His Faultless Timing

I lie on my bed pondering about the things and events of this cruise and the last 12 weeks I spent on this ship. There were plans that didn’t happen and times when I failed. I think about places I’ve never seen, phone that didn’t ring, invitation I should have taken. All those kind words I should have said, questions left unanswered, help I could have offered. I reflect on “what ifs” and “could have beens” which made my “waiting” in certain areas of my life even longer. 

Yet despite all these I choose to stay on top of things by closing my eyes, feeling my heart and saying a short prayer. When anxiety attempts to wedge its way into my thoughts to create fear, the safest place to be is in His will. In God’s loving hands nothing gets wasted.  Even the pain brought by detours, delays, changes or staying in the same place. He knows what He’s doing.

Have you met your “ship” yet? That goes for the real ship you wish to board and the many other things you’ve been waiting and praying for. Don’t lose hope. You’re getting closer and closer.

Follow your dreams.


Endings and Beginnings

A few days ago the whole world rejoiced as we celebrated New Year. We said goodbye to 2018 and welcomed 2019.

Remembering Home

Back in the Philippines, my family was very busy cooking and preparing food for Media Noche.  As a tradition, they bought round fruits from the market. Yes!!! They have to be round because they symbolize money. 12 different kinds mean overflowing abundance and blessings for the 12 months of the year.

They also bought fireworks. Fireworks and firecrackers that certainly brought those deafening sounds. Loud noise to drive away the bad spirits and the unpleasant memories of last year. And they leave stains on the sky, too. But these stains are the most beautiful of all. For in the darkness of the night, one is often reminded of the joy and hope that a new year brings. Another chance to start again.

Me on the Ship

On the ship I prepared myself for a night of solitude. I was scheduled to work until 1 in the morning, an hour past midnight.  It’s the first time that I missed the New Year’s Eve Party on the cruise. Whenever I’m on the ship I look forward to joining the big crowd for that New Year countdown. It always helps me get by. It makes me feel I’m a part of a family. A surrogate family to spend new year with while I’m away from the people whom I truly love.

My co-worker friend stayed with me until I finished my shift. She thought I needed help. Surprisingly, it got busy as the teens kept coming to our party. Usually they would go out and join the parties outside. 

As expected, the ship rocked and shone bright at sea while we sail for Tortola. The next day, I marked my new calendar. We stopped in a port. We were in British Virgin Islands.

New Year celebration is a grand event on ships. There are parties everywhere – inside the clubs, theaters, atrium and even on the open decks. Everyone is busy and in high spirits. That goes both for the crew and the guests. As I’m surrounded by friends and strangers, I feel less home sick. Maybe because I am highly distracted. Good distraction I must say because I think less of being far from home. I’m less burdened by sad thoughts. I don’t feel alone.

A Different New Year

The coming of 2019 was quite different. It has been the quietest New Year’s Eve I’ve ever spent on ships. And it went quick, too. As soon as our teen party started at 11 at night, everything went fast. I lost track of time. It was only this one teen-aged girl we had (who was doing her own countdown while filming herself most likely for Snapchat ) who reminded me the new year has officially come.

I felt peace. In the quietness of my heart a short prayer was uttered. A sweet and sincere prayer of thanks. As I look back, I know how blessed and loved I am. Exactly one year ago, I was confused and didn’t know what to do. Primarily because Mama got sick. But many things happened along the way and it’s been quite a journey since then. It’s not necessarily easy but I found gems in all the struggles I met in the last 365 golden days. I learned lessons I would not have learned if I didn’t go through all those tests. There were many unpleasant memories but there were also beautiful surprises that far outweigh the hurt and the confusion I felt.

Goodbye 2018!!! You’ve been so good to me. Thank you for missed opportunities that lead to unexpected bliss. Thank you for all lessons learned amidst the struggles. Thank you for families and friends, those who left and those who stayed. Thank you for all the blessings, the love I gave and received.

Welcome 2019

2019 is already here and I promise to change even more for the better. Resolutions are boring and frustrating. They are meant to be broken. That’s what others think. One is off to a good start and at some point, one goes downhill from there. But I will keep trying until I succeed. I will stay committed, feed my focus and ignore things that matter less. Hopefully when December ends, I will look back with a sweet smile on my face having achieved everything I wanted.

So for the next 365 days I promise to always be true to myself. I will enjoy being weird and be proud to be different. I will watch what I eat and look after my health. I will be more loving and less judging. I will always be ready to help. I will make more friends. I will smile to people I know and people I don’t. I will listen to others talk but also use my own voice. I will do more and complain less. I will give cheerfully and ask boldly. I’ll make more time for family. I won’t be afraid to make mistakes. I will forgive others and I will forgive myself. I’ll dream more dreams and make them real. I’ll write those books and give those talks. I will earn big, so I can share. Even when it’s hard, I won’t stop loving. I will always be inspired by Your love. Because Your love is far and wide.  I will feel it and bask under it for the next 365 days and beyond.

I welcome another year and can’t wait for all the goodness it will bring. Cheers to a happy ending and a new beginning.

Follow your dreams.


Christmas at Sea

It’s Christmas day today. We’re in Falmouth, Jamaica. In the Philippines and other parts of the world Christmas is finished. Still festive spirit is in the air. It’s the most wonderful time of the year. On ships, it’s the merriest and the busiest day of all.  

7 years ago, in this same month I started my career at sea. I joined Pacific Dawn, my very first ship. I remember the scene at the airport just before I left. I was excited to venture into a whole new experience. At the same time, I was nervous having to leave my family behind. But I was determined to do it despite the uncertainty of things to come. I just know that I owe myself to try.

And so I took that flight that brought me to the beautiful land down under. “Australia, here I come!” 

Christmas Down Under

I remember the cold that welcomed me the moment I was out of the airport. It gave me chill that reached the insides of my bones. I felt uneasy. But the moment I saw a glimpse of my ship, I felt safe.

I took my bag out of the shuttle and started pushing it. It was heavy. The people who were travelling with me helped me lift it. The bag was full of clothes, shoes, books, toiletries, electronics and some other important and not so important things. That’s my life in 6 months. My llife in a bag carefully and lovingly packed.

That month of December was probably the hardest month of my ship life. It was the first and I had to learn a lot. It’s not just the job that I had to study but the whole ship itself. I had to learn to properly deal with cruising children and their families. I had to learn to work and live harmoniously with the other workers on the ship who came from different places and countries.

I remember that first Christmas on board when despite the celebration I had to work. I cried quietly as I remember my family and the things we do on Christmas eve. I thought of the merry-making, Pinoy food and giving of gifts. Truly, nothing beats Christmas at home.

I had 5 more Christmases on ships. As the years went by, I found myself gaining more control of what I feel. I cried a little less. I smiled at strangers and laughed more with new found friends. Sometimes I ask myself, “Did I just get used to this?” Well partly maybe. But as a whole I think it’s also me growing up.

Christmas Last Year

Christmas last year was different and so was the New Year a week after. After many years of working on holidays at sea I was home with friends and family.

We had so many plans then but they didn’t happen. Sometimes life just surprises us in times when we least expect it. Sometimes we don’t want the surprise it carries. We found out Mama was sick. We wanted her to rest. Plus we had to budget our money because her medical bills were expensive.

And so my very first Christmas at home after being away for a long time didn’t turn out as how we originally planned. No extravagant gifts. No out of town vacation. We celebrated simply. There were sad thoughts in my head but there was joy in my heart. We had the same wish. We prayed for the same thing. And that’s for Mama to get healed.

Christmas in 2018

Now another Christmas is here and guess what??? I’m back on the ship again. Away from friends and family, people who are dear to me. Normally I would feel sad and quietly I would cry. But today my heart overflows with joy. I’ve learned to be more grateful. For all the blessings I receive every single day. For all the help generously offered and given. For this job I have which I’ve learned to love. For Mama getting better.For many wishes granted and many more to make. For old dreams coming to pass and exciting new ones to chase.

Thank You Lord Jesus for the gift of Christmas. Thank You for giving us Yourself which is the greatest gift we’ll ever receive. Thank You also for the many Christmases at sea where You never failed to make me feel how much You love me. I’ve learned a lot since that one fateful day of December when I left with a broken heart. As promised, You’ve healed my wounds when Papa left for good. Now that Mama is sick, we worry less. We know you’re in charge of everything. We trust that in the end everything will be okay.

Thank You also for taking me to ships. Here, You’ve changed me and You’ve pruned me. Now I’m better, wiser, and stronger. Wandering around the world but never lost. For I know where home is. Home is You and You alone.

Follow your dreams.


Before November Ends

7 months ago, we were in the same place. Saying our prayers. Remembering the dead.

It has become a sacred ritual since I started working on ships. It’s a special family affair. Before I leave, we visit to say goodbye. And when I go home, we go back to tell him of my adventures.

I heard from somebody before that dreams also take time to grow. They have what they call a “gestation period.” They don’t happen in an instant. They have to be nurtured. Today I remembered a dream I once dreamt as a child. A dream that 6 months ago came to life.

As a young girl I always dreamed of going to the US. And although it’s common for many young girls to wish for chocolates and Disneyland, my heart ached for something else. I just wanted to see my dad. Papa left when my sister and I were little. And we miss him terribly. We both wanted to see him again.

When he passed away in 2009, my dream also died. I never wanted to go the States anymore. I thought it was pointless when the only reason I wanted to go there was gone. The pain was unbearable. I wanted to run away from it. I wanted to run away to heal and forget. I wanted to go anywhere but the US.

And so I was brought to the land down under. It was December of 2011 when I first landed in Sydney. I was in time for the Christmas season, the busiest month of all.  In Australia I met my very first ship, the Pacific Dawn. Next to the Philippines, Australia has been a home for almost 6 years. I loved it and it loved me back. But after too many contracts and with Mama being sick, I decided to leave.

I thought ship life was over. That’s it for me. But after some months of thinking I realized I still need to do it. I must admit I began to miss it too. The sea was calling and it’s screaming so hard and wanting so badly to be heard.

I headed for the US April 7 of 2018. Then 2 days after, I board my new ship, the Norwegian Escape. I was reminded of Papa and our dreams together.

I remember phone calls I wished never ended. I remember sending hand-written letters my sister and I carefully constructed knowing they will be meticulously checked, and snail mailed back with red marks and circles of a teacher patiently correcting our mistakes. I remember receiving big boxes full of goodies, mostly chocolates and CDs that back then made two teen-aged girls hearts’ leap. I remember stories about beautiful parks and winter. I remember a long-distance love of a father.

They say that families are like branches on a tree. We grow in different directions, yet our roots remain as one. And to this I will add, it doesn’t matter whether you’re at sea or on land.

If you plan to work on ships, take the journey with your family. Don’t just leave them behind. Take their love with you because it makes you strong wherever you go. In a crazy ship world that’s full of noises, make sure their loving words is what you’ll hear the loudest.

Thanks Papa!!! Life has been amazing in a strange, funny, scary and glorious way. Smile up there for nothing loved is lost and forgotten.

Follow your dreams.