SAN NARCISO, Zambales—Governor Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. pledged his full support to the development of the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy (PMMA) as the country’s premier maritime school during the graduation ceremonies for the academy’s 2022 class here on Thursday.
Ebdane, who was the guest of honor and speaker in the commencement rites, reiterated his commitment to prioritizing education to make Zambales a sustainable community, a vow he made in his inauguration as four-term governor a week ago.
“As governor, I’d like to elevate the level of education at the PMMA and in Zambales in general. My office is ready to provide what help is needed for the sake of our students. I believe that these youth will be the warriors of tomorrow, and on their hands lay the progress of our country,” he said.
At the same time, he called on officials of the state-run maritime school, along with teachers and parents, to help raise the bar for PMMA education.
“The PMMA as an educational institution should strive and commit itself to enhance and improving maritime education. Teacher training, infrastructure and facility advancement, and research and development should form part of its thrust toward excellence,” Ebdane pointed out. “Together, we can fulfill these dreams.”
Ebdane also noted the need for local graduates to excel in leadership as the demand for today’s human resources requires not just technical skills, but also managerial competence.
The PMMA, which is aspiring to be declared the national maritime academy, had recently embarked on a P25-million program to bring about the use of smart classrooms, remote-access workshops, online platforms, and even augmented reality and virtual reality equipment for its students. The school also inaugurated last week a new barracks that could house 50 more students.
The Zambales governor’s call for excellence in maritime education came at a time when a Zambales native topped the school’s academic rolls. Marl Cheston Felarca Ravelo, who is valedictorian of the PMMA’s Masidlayag Class of 2022 with a degree in Marine Engineering, hails from San Marcelino town.
Like other PMMA graduates, Ravelo and the other members of the graduating class had three career paths to choose from: enlist with the Philippine Navy or the Philippine Coast Guard or join the merchant marine fleet.
Ebdane said that with a forecasted shortage in the supply of officers in the global shipping industry and a steady increase in the demand for seafarers in the next 10 years, there is a bright future for PMMA graduates. “Yet the challenge that you must contend with as young seafarers is how to keep yourself qualified, competent, and relevant,” the governor reminded them.
Ebdane also urged the midshipmen-graduates to “sail beyond and conquer the world” and, at the same time, exhorted them to share their success, “especially with those who are in dire need of help.”
“If you finally go out to the sea to find success, take care. And if you find success, come back home, and share your experience and wisdom with the next generation, so that your victory would also become the victory of our Motherland,” he concluded.
Last Thursday’s graduation was the first face-to-face ceremony for PMMA after two years of online commencement exercises because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The ceremony was marred by a sudden heavy rain midway through the two-hour program, but the PMMA cadets valiantly stood in their formation throughout the downpour.