Prisoner of the sea | Inquirer Opinion

Prisoner of the sea

Caged in the thick walls of comfort are people with big dreams who have not taken risks because they fear failure and disappointment. Always looking at the same picture in the thought that this was what contentment and happiness entailed but which they never really fulfilled. Doors that may seem to open are shut immediately.

Change is constant, and our ability to adapt to it is a very hard quest. We tend to normalize things that we regularly experience which makes us complacent since we have mastered the way to our everyday life. Sometimes, there may be minimal turns, yet we are able to adapt. But when new things encompass every border within our sight, we tend to panic.

Growing up, I felt all the love a child would want from their parents. Only household chores and school works presented pressure to me. My parents were my wings on every flight which made me think that those days were already the hardest but somehow I could survive them.


I had to make the hardest decision when I was in the 12th grade. I was torn between two doors—both could lead to my dreams but the price to pay was different. I weighed my options well. I always considered how to not become a burden to my parents as soon as I started going to college. Our family has been through countless adversities and in spite of the money my parents were earning, it would still be difficult to complete my higher education.


But the hardship was not evident on my parents’ faces. Their eyes always reflected assurance that they will help me arrive at the destination I wanted.

I wanted to pursue a course I really wanted but opted instead to look for programs that offered subsidies so I could reduce my expenses. My applications for my first option were declined, and I was waitlisted at the university where I wanted to enroll. But it was a different story for my other option, which became the key that led me to seafaring.

Fate is really a clever fellow. It took me some time to realize that no matter how hard we try to hold on to things we want, we will always end up where we belong and are destined to be.

It was not simple adjusting to things I was not used to. I had a different picture of what my college life would be like. But I entered an arena where the battle was focused on the heart, mind, and body. I shed tears and sweat and felt like I was going through the hardest time in my life. I detached myself from the outside to prepare for what was coming. There were no friends or family that I could rely on. Everyone was a stranger, even myself.

As I was about to raise my white flag and choose comfort over hardship, I met people who eventually became my friends—no, brothers—who illuminated the world I was about to give up. We shared each other’s sentiments and supported each other through the toughest times.

Now, I am cruising the waters of my journey. It has made me realize so many things that made me look up to every seafarer. I tell you, life on board is not a smooth ride. We wake up to nothing but work to greet us in the morning. Acquaintances on board are never permanent. You have nothing and no one but yourself. There may be times that we set foot in different countries for a couple of hours; times are always changing, and there never is monotony. We could wake up experiencing another setback similar to the pandemic in which our joy to experience the vast culture of the world has been restricted. We have made ourselves drown in our occupation.


Truly, our profession earns more than those jobs on land. But it made us give up three very important things so that we could earn a living: our civilian life, our safety, and the joy to be with our family.

Indeed, it takes more than courage to become one of the prisoners of the sea.

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Dexter Alan R. Tanudtanud, 22, is studying marine engineering at DMMA College of Southern Philippines.


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