A little more than a week ago, I was informed by my company's Miami office that I am being offered a job onboard another ship called P&O Azura. I looked up the itinerary of the ship and I was amazed that ship is in fact now in the Caribbean docked in Barbados and is going transatlantic soon and going on a whirlwind tour of almost the entire European continent reaching as far as north as St. Petersburg, Russia and going around the Greek Isles in the Mediterranean. What an opportunity, I thought! I said yes even if I knew the cruises were long (usually averaging 15 days long) which from experience doesn't bode well for the spa, and the clientele is mostly British guests (they don't tip).
So now... I thought this would be so easy right, I have all the paperwork all I have to do is renew my medical. Boy... I haven't been SOOOO wrong.
Steiner's Manila Agent is affiliated with its (almost) exclusive Industrial/Occupational Medicine arm. Unfortunately, they were not accredited to issue a Norwegian Maritime Directorate Health Certificate which is being required of me by this particular ship company. (I have worked before for the Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and their medical was extensive but was simple to obtain.) So I was referred to the American Outpatient Hospital Inc.(AOH) which was accredited.
Because my local agent was not connected with AOH they accepted me on an outpatient basis. I started my medical 17th February 2011, I was done the following morning. Unfortunately that was a Friday. They said I had to wait for at least 3 working days for the results of the medical. Time was running out. After they released my "certificate" I was informed by my principal from Miami that it needed to include my actual laboratory results and that their exams were "incomplete" compared to the one's the ship requiring. I wondered why the fuck isn't something with a very nice proper name: Norwegian Maritime Directorate Health Certificate isn't standardized internationally?! Is there a difference on the extent of the laboratories/exams required for a certificate issued in Miami vs. Manila???
I went back to AOH to ask for my actual laboratory exams... they said they don't release it to outpatient clients. I understand their protocol actually. Commonly, the company forwards the results directly to the manning agencies to prevent the seafarers/potential employees from falsifying their documents. But my reasoning behind this is: (1) I do have an agency, (2) AOH was the one who decided to put me on outpatient basis for the sole fact that my agency is not affiliated with them. Am I being discriminated because of my agency? Is this politics amongst Philippine industrial clinics corporations? I think I, as a client deserve the same service as among any other person applying for a health certificate. Is that something unreasonable?
I was made to sit in a waiting area for 3 hours to await a decision by whoever whether to release the laboratories to me or not. After 3 hours I had to speak up. They decided to give it to me. I admire the compassion of the employee who did it. There wasn't anything wrong with that. People who don't pass the exams don't get released anything at all so there is no use to protect against results when all they give out are good ones. Would a person falsify their results to become.... uhmmm ineligible for work???
A note: I thoroughly admire how the Filipino seafarers sit through this entire process just to be able to work abroad. From applying for a seaman's book, to doing the trainings, doing the medicals. It's all one long red tape and money making process at all steps.
2 days after, when I thought all was well... I was informed that the results was missing some pages again. This time, it was the questionnaire I was to answer. I checked the manual Steiner gave me. They indeed require it. The reason, I don't know, though I don't question them about it. The form is stamped at the top though... This Form is to be Kept by the Doctor according to the rules of blah blah blah... Well it's not supposed to be released to me anyway. But I had to ask AOH. People have been required of this before and they were able to deliver. Why not now.
I went back to AOH to ask for the forms. I arrived 8 am in the morning was first in line and was told the matter had to be forwarded to the medical director for approval. He would arrive 1330H. I left and attended to other errands. I arrived back at 1230H and waited until the medical director arrived... at 1630H!!! I was waiting just to ask permission to get some additional pages from my already ISSUED health certificate but to my surprise I was informed that I was not supposed to be issued one in the first place. Instead of going ballistic, I just was so exhausted over the days of running around for this trip that I just went quiet. I gave up. The director talked to me, informed me that the Norwegian Embassy only allows certain agencies to get the NIS (Norwegian Health Certificate) for their seafarers and Dolphin (My company) wasn't one of them. So instead of having an incomplete certificate he confiscated the one already issued and crossed it out. Well I couldn't do anything anymore could I. Not even if he was my school mate it was the mandate of the Norwegian Embassy in the Philippines and all the health certificates they issue had a serial number registered with the embassy.
Uhmmm Dear American Hospital Inc. isn't it your responsibility to inform me that I couldn't be issued this certificate at the first time I entered your door instead of wasting my 10 weeks prep time so you can tell me 1 day before my flight that I don't particularly deserve this certificate. Your mission on your wall says you intend to give total satisfaction and quality service to your clients. Well please feel free to call me up if you want testimonies for your wall..
So here I am, with an exhausting flight to New York passing through Dubai instead of the Pacific. To find my own hotel after arriving in Barbados. With two luggages and two carry-ons waiting for news. And with no health certificate that is needed before I can board the ship. Yipee...
Where to start... hmmm the plot line in Kaos is actually a big loser but the acrobatic acts saves the day. Worth it the Php 1,500 I paid to see it. We had good seats and I must say that the Newport Theatre is very fancy I hope they are able to maintain it to its present state for a very long time. It's small though... around 2,000 seating capacity so it's really for these kinda of presentations and not for rock concerts. The best acrobats in my opinion are the ones that do their stunts in this rotating thing that looks like watch hands. Awesome!
What I like about the presentation is that it brings together talents from several continents and countries. Acrobats are usually Chinese but these people have Brazilians, Belarusians, Spanish, Filipinos, Chinese, and Canadians.
After that we went to the Banchetto Street Food Fair in Emerald Avenue, Ortigas. WOW. I've never seen so many people since I went to Divisoria. No room to walk! I would think the food level is acceptable but most are really "street food" so I saw countless versions of Isaw (Grilled Chicken Intestines) and the like but there are some good food there. Alas! Seeing hundreds of booths worth of food ruined my appetite. Steff ended up with grilled tahong, Verle with gourmet looking Isaw and me chicharon(pork skin popcorn). ^_^
I read about 'A Prophet' recently and sought to see it. It didn't disappoint. It's a really gritty prison movie and is unique on showing some pretty much uncovered territory (in movies) in terms of ethnicity. Tahar Rahim definitely should be watched out for future roles. You'll feel sympathy for his character even if he does some pretty ugly stuff. Definitely a must-watch for movie lovers.
There are a few obscure but very interesting and entertaining movies made in 2010. One is RED which stars Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker, John Malkovich (I love his weird accent - - one that I remember from the first movie I saw him in -- Man in the Iron Mask), Morgan Freeman, and HELEN MIRREN. The point of this post is... you should watch this movie if only to see Mirren wield guns and a badass machine gun. It was really fun to see these geriatric actors as retiree spies slash assassins. Watch watch watch!
This movie is preserved by the US Library of Congress and the AFI and is ubiquitous on a lot of Top 100 movies list. It stars Paul Newman as Butch Cassidy and Robert Redford as Sundance. It tells of the adventures of the two and is known for showing the beauty of Wyoming wilderness during the loooong chase scenes. The movie is all about people chasing the two actually. The cinematography is superb of course and the actors are top notch. One memorable scene is when Paul Newman is taking Sundance's lover around while the (later) Oscar winning song Raindrops are falling on my head is playing. I thought the scene was really out of place but it was a nice break in the mood of the movie. The best thing I love about the movie is the ending. History is questionable whether the real Butch Cassidy survived or not. And so the movie leaves you to decide whether the duo could have survived a barrage of gunmen. I recommend you watch Butch Cassidy for educational purposes. It may not be something you'll thoroughly enjoy as a relaxing movie but it will be a learning experience if you love movies.
Having nothing to do in the last few weeks, I've sort of unconsciously focused on one of my addictions -- movies. I thought I should really ink it down and make an objective to watch all the greatest movies ever made. I've consulted several lists, the American Film Institute's Top 100 movies of all time, the Internet Movie Database's list and other sites as well.
The objective : watch the greatest movies of all time, review them, AND THEN make my own Top 100 list! Who's with me?!
I enjoyed my day in Hollywood thanks to Rob who took me around. It's a small place. Everything cramped into a single street. We had a very nice lunch at The Cheesecake Factory in The Grove. I didn't get lucky and see A-listers though.
The flight home was of course utterly boring. Cathay Pacific's coach seats cannot be reclined. The butt part just slides down. Well, it was made up for by their individual screens with a lot of new movies, TV series and even games! (bejeweled Gus!). I had the unfortunate chance to see NAIA again. What a miserable airport we have. Sigh...
Now I have to figure out what to do... And return to see my pet Yuki in Pet Society XD