Against The Tide

Xandra Mae ​​Villacarlos, Philippines

March 2, 2022

I am the roses among the thorns. I am an unapologetically smart worker. I prepare the vessel before every port making sure all Life saving and Port Documents are well submitted and maintained.I am responsible for the maintenance of Rescue Boat, Lifeboat, Oil Spill equipment, life saving appliances and sometimes I do the repairs myself. I keep track of their expiry making sure that in cases of emergency, they will all be readily available for use. I am the rose among the thorns and I am unapologetically doing my job impressively. I am a leader. I am obliged to make sure I keep them safe during navigation, I am obliged to keep the vessel safe, the cargo safe and to see to it that the efficiency of the onboard work environment is efficient and my part is well attended.

To be honest, I enjoy when I get to make men shut up, especially when I am right! In a world wherein women are still seen as objects, I like to make them think that they are the objects. I enjoy the warmth the sunrises give, I enjoy the breeze the ocean waves bring, I enjoy the bridge wherein I feel like I am the boss I am the one who steers the ship I am the boss of me. I enjoy lifting weights without asking much from men. I enjoy seeing the fruit of my labor, I enjoy the little things, the big things, the near miss, the blessings, the serendipities, the miracles. I enjoy my life as a seafarer.

Everyday I face gender based challenges but I learned that cans with little coins are louder than the ones which are full. I learned to work inspite and despite the negativities. I learned to welcome the negative comments about my gender to one side of my ear, disposing it to the other leaving them as fuel to do even a better job at my profession.

My advice to other female seafarers is accept the unacceptable. There will always be stigma about us and there will always be negative comments as a female seafarer changing the world is ambitious since we are dealing with adult trees that are hard to bend unless they’re young. We can only do so much. But together we can achieve so much more. This is an emotionally, physically and mentally dragging profession. We should not expect others to protect us but we must protect ourselves. Expect the worst of everyone so when you are wrong, surprises are better than dismay, disappointments and betrayals. Keep your head high . Have time for yourself from time to time. Speak up but don’t look down. Raise your arguments, raise your performance not your voice, not your attitude.

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