Looking Back and Beyond 2024 - Part 2: 50 years of Mariners in Bicol
At Mariners, this year is a grand celebration for everyone looking back to the past 50 years and beyond 2024.
It is also the year of the Dragon, the auspicious symbol of strength, power, success, and wisdom among the Zodiac signs. As I write this, I am in awe of the Chinese New Year’s diverse symbolisms. I am a silly optimist, always trying to find bright and good things amidst the gray and the bad. I refuse to be intimidated by the ominous signs of discontent and frustrations brewing in the country. I can’t help but attach new meanings to forthcoming significant events at school and my entrepreneurial venture at JaimEliza, my new store. But it is the commemoration of the golden foundation anniversary of the Mariners Polytechnic Colleges, Inc. in Naga City that I feel more strongly about – it’s 50 years of golden service to the families of the rural communities where most of the graduates came from and nurtured their way to success. “Sarong Marinero sa kada Pamilyang Bikolano” is a famous adage on DWXN-RMN Buhay Marinero.
Zodiac-believing enthusiasts like me foresee a year of excellent health and prosperity for those who believe and will work towards their realization. The Dragon for this Zodiac year is wood, a symbol of nurturing, abundance, and a period for fresh starts and laying the groundwork for lasting success. The dragon year of 50 years is gold, symbolizing prosperity and wealth.
As Mariners Polytechnic School from 1974 to 1979, it grew to become a college. It soon led to two maritime colleges in Canaman, Camarines Sur (1985), and in coastal Rawis in Legazpi City, Albay (1986). Altogether, the Mariners community, consisting of students, faculty, employees, administrators, and alumni on all three campuses, will celebrate the 50th year of the “mother school” on March 4 with a bang. How else would an erstwhile small struggling school look back to its glorious past but with pride and a sense of success?
Like the strenuous, back-breaking traditional dragon boat racing festival along the Bicol River, where Marineros first joined up with farmers and fisherfolks paddling wooden boats decorated with dragon heads and tails in 1985 during the Peñafrancia fluvial parade, the race to academic excellence was tough and challenging as well.
The MPCI prides itself as the premier and the first polytechnic school in Bicol, founded in 1974 with specialization in Maritime, Customs Administration, and Vocational-Technical courses when these were still in vogue. A trailblazer, it first introduced Marine Engineering, Marine Transportation, and Customs administration course programs in aid of professionalizing the maritime industry in 1975.
From Naga, the President-founder, then Capt. Jaime C. Jimenez, Sr. Steered the short-term courses in marine engineering and marine transportation toward full bachelor of science programs compliant with the standards and requirements of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the Commission on Higher Education. Two maritime institutions sprang forth from its womb, namely the Mariners Polytechnic Colleges Foundation in Canaman and the MPCF in Legazpi City. With the phenomenal growth of the two naval schools in Bicol, the founder, a former Philippine Navy captain and dean of the marine college at the FEATI, helped found the 70-strong Philippine Association of Maritime Institutions (PAMI) in 1984 and became twice its president. With the PAMI, the late founder Jaime Sr used the platform to help elevate seafaring as a profession and raise standards for maritime education and training in the country. His leadership and dedication did not go unnoticed; the former Philippine president, Fidel Ramos, appointed him as Chair of the Philippine Commission to Reorganize the Maritime Education and Training, which resulted in significant changes in the MET and the industry.
Meanwhile, customs administration and management have continued to be the MPCI’s topline course program since 1975, with graduates constantly among the top board placers and licensed customs brokers. The two maritime colleges in Canaman and Legazpi City also offer the four-year Bachelor of Science in Customs Administration that aims to develop business graduates and customs brokers who are competent and knowledgeable in the fast-growing import-export business. It has become its niche in higher learning in the region. The course focuses on tariff and customs laws, international trade, cargo handling, port operation, freight forwarding and non-vessel operating common carriers, general warehousing, global customs procedures, and best practices leading to specialization in supply chain management.
Until today, it remains the only higher educational institution offering the accredited complete program in customs administration along with tourism, hotel management, and culinary arts, where its students garner awards in regional competency and skills competitions as they prepare to become valued graduates for on-land, on-sea, and on-air employment.
A crowning glory in its 50 years of existence is the five-floor Mariners Tourism and Hotel Institute (MTHI), the first mock-up in-house training center in Bicol where students prepare for international hotels and the culinary professions. Indeed, it is an auspicious beginning for 2024, in the year of the Dragon, as MPCI celebrates its 50 years of golden and loving service to advance outcomes-based learning in the region.