HomeThe Central Colleges of the Philippines Interdisciplinary Research Journalvol. 1 no. 1 (2009)

The Resilience and Stoic Qualities of Filipino Seafarer Victims of 55 Days of Captivity by Somalian Pirates

John Val dela Cruz



Background: The Filipino qualities of being stoic and resilient are qualities that have been likened to those of the bamboo; pliant, yielding toforces one cannot fight against at a given moment and the ability to stand again and resume where he has left off. This has been displayed by soldiers in the past three wars, and by the OFW’s who have had to battle pangs of loneliness and homesickness away from their families. Most recently,

Filipino seafarers have been subjected to piracy in the high seas. Somalian pirates have made a business out of holding merchant boats in captivity in exchange for money. All kinds of nationalities have been subjected to the same treatment. They are held hostage and ransoms have been demanded for their release.


Objective: The narrative-interpretive study purports to show certain qualities of some of these Filipino seafarers and the manner in which they dealt with the possibility of death from their captors.


The study tries to capture the stoic qualities and resilience in the subjects.


Method: Filipino seafarers provided inputs from their experiences. Sources of data were from narratives in answer to semi-structured interviews, sketches or drawings they did, and accounts of thoughts that filled their minds during the 55 days when there was no hope of rescue, not enough food, and disruption of their routine meant that there would not be money for their families.


Findings: Emergent ideas include what may be found in “Strong like the Molave” and the Filipino resilience in “Pliant like the Bamboo”. Metaphorically, the Filipino seaman subjects have given validity to what otherwise could only be “beautiful lines” in literature written by Filipino writers. Another emergent thought is there may be some kind of truth in the Marxist idea that religion is/can be opium to the people. This is revealed in their reference to God and His help during the ordeal.


Conclusion: Notably and like it is in Pandora’s chest, “Hope” is the essence that gives strength to men in dire straits. Faith in God and love of family strengthen these men’s resolve to rise above their experience and try their best to become useful again