Due to their sheer number and dedication, Filipino seafarers were able to remit $5.575 billion by the end of December 2014.
However, seafarers remain vulnerable to poverty after their retirement. Apart from making frivolous expenses, seafarers find it difficult to set aside money and maintain an emergency fund, a Marine Insight report said.
Filipino seafarers in particular also have the added problem of supporting their extended families regardless of their ability to work, according to an article on Research Gate published in June last year.
For Capt. Gaudencio Morales, head of the Integrated Seafarers of the Philippines (ISP), these extended families have become "excess baggage" to an ordinary Filipino seafarer.
"Karamihan ng nagmamarino galing sa hirap. Kumbaga, excess baggage, marami silang tinutulungan," Morales said in a press briefing on Wednesday.
Morales said for a seafarer to save money for his retirement, he should lessen these excess baggage.
"Ini-encourage din namin sila, dapat mabawasan 'yun, kahit konti," he said. "Dahil karamihan ng excess baggage umaasa na lang doon sa kanila, so 'pag hindi napagbigyan, magkakaroon ng sama ng loob."
To curb this problem, Leyzam Gaspay, son of a former seafarer, said seafarers must teach their kin to become self-reliant and wean them off unconditional aid.
"Ang maipapayo ko na tulong sa ganyang bagay, tulungan natin sila kung paano sila makapag self-produce ng sarili nila para hindi habang-buhay [ay] lagi silang umaasa sa 'yo," Gaspay said.
"Nandito tayo para tumulong. Pero siyempre mas maganda kung tayo din tutulungan natin sila kung pano nila mapaunlad yung sarili nila," he added.
But what would ultimately keep a Filipino seafarer's family comfortable is their ability to save up cash for future use.
"Mabawasan lang ng konti at itabi nila, hindi naman yung ibinawas nila ay gagastusin din nila. Maaring pagsakay nila, halimbawa, isang kontrata, maglagay na sila dun ng isang amount na itabi talaga," Gaspay said.
Becoming entrepreneurs would also make sure that a seafarer's hard work pays off at the end of his career.
Gaspay's father, William, won the 2015 edition of the contest, which seeks to fund the best business proposal from Filipino seafarers looking to become entrepreneurs.
Morales invited seafarers and their families to join this year's competition, saying participating in it would give them valuable training they can use for their future business ventures.
"Inaanyayahan namin ang lahat ng seafarers, pati na ang pamilya ng seafarers, lalo na yung mga misis, na mag-join kayo... para magkaroon kayo, kahit hindi kayo manalo ng grand prize na P500,000, magkakaroon kayo ng kaalaman sa negosyo," he said.
"Walang forever sa pagbabarko. Dapat isipin nila 'yun," he added. —KBK, GMA News