Seafaring ran very much in the blood of the Dela Cruz family and as such, it wasn’t a surprise when Ilo Veyou Timbang Dela Cruz decided to become a seafarer.

“I came from a family where there were a lot of seafarers. My father and three of my uncles are seafarers; I also have aunts working on manning agencies in Manila. My family background made it easy for me to decide to take this profession.”

Born and raised in the Philippines, Ilo is a 2nd Officer of Anscorswire Ship Managment under the CNCO fleet. He recalled, “My father, who is also a seafarer working onboard as a Chief Cook, did not want me to pursue this career because he knew the hardships and sacrifices that came with it. But being a son to a seafarer, I wanted to know how my father was doing, the experiences he gained years of sailing, and how he felt when he was away from us while we are growing up. Now I understand why he didn't want me to take this path.”

Ilo joined his first vessel when he was 18. “It was at a dry dock in China. My mom helped me packed my luggage which weighed approximately 40 kg. I joined a Capesize vessel and I remember seeing the ladder that I need to climbed up with my 40 kg luggage. It was out of sheer excitement that a 58 kg boy managed to take that luggage all the way up. After resting for a few hours, we started taking buckets of water from the duct keel to the main deck by hand and through the stairs, as well as carrying pressure bars to the forecastle deck. I was so exhausted by the end of the day that I fell asleep very quickly. As a boy who had never experienced hard labour in his life, I started thinking what I had just got myself into, and how I could ever complete my tenure.”

“My first voyage is one of my most memorable experiences. My crewmates treated me as their child as I was really young and I was new. They taught me terms and techniques and were also generous in impacting their experience. It was also during my first voyage that I celebrated Christmas onboard. The party had all sorts of games and competitions throughout the day. That was the only time that I had a party like this.”

Another memorable experience was meeting up with his father in China. “My father and I saw each other for a few minutes; my vessel just arrived and their ship was waiting for their Pilot; about to set sail in a few minutes. We managed to take a picture together. It was my father’s first time seeing his boy as an officer. I felt his pride at how much I have achieved, and I felt really proud to be his son.”

Sailing with different nationalities has enabled Ilo to learn about different cultures, food, languages, beliefs and practices. “I have learned that although we may have a lot of differences, we also have similarities such as our passion and love for family.”

To anyone who wishes to be a seafarer, Ilo’s advice is: “Be prepared for the hardships and sacrifices you have to endure; sailing on ships is no child's play.”