LOYAL IN LOVE: Seafarers shrug off ‘BABAERO’ status, research says

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One of the most commonly expressed fears among both active seafarers and their spouses is that of extra-marital affairs. This is particularly acute as seafarers generally have an image of ‘babaero’ or womanizers that frequent prostitutes or even have second families in distant ports.

Related Reading: Top 5 well-grounded reasons why seafarers get HIV/AIDS

However, many seafarers tended to downplay this reputation and instead expressed the insecurities created by separation from spouses.

One 46 year-old married second officer with two children lamented,

“I am putting my family life at stake with this kind of job. In truth, we seamen only rely on the sincerity and faithfulness of our wives. If they would do “kalokohan” [mess around] and we would know about it – that would be the hardest thing to accept.”

Similarly, a married second officer with one child noted:

“They say sea-manloloko [seamen are tricksters]? That is bulls*it because seamen are niloloko na ngayon [the ones getting tricked]. I know several seamen whom I pity because they are working their asses off aboard the ship and their wives are doing something wrong here in the Philippines. They keep on sending money and yet their wives are free to do anything. So if you are a seaman, your wife should be trustworthy because you would be away for so many months and even a year. A lot of incidents like these happen.”

Related Reading: Make your family ‘miss you like crazy’ when you work at sea

*An excerpt from So They Remember Me When I’m Gone, a research study about remittances, fatherhood and gender relations of Filipino migrant men, particularly merchant seafarers, authored by Prof. Steve Mackay of University of California – Santa Cruz. (Shared with emailed permission).

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