SITTING on a 20-hectare area in Canlubang, Calamba City, Laguna, is a maritime school set up by the Delgado-owned Transnational Diversified Group (TDG) and its Japanese partner NYK Line, one of the world’s largest shipping companies.
Since the NYK-TDG Maritime Academy opened in June 2007, it has produced about 440 students, composed of four batches of best-of-class seafarers, mainly to work the 800 ships owned by the NYK Line.
The school grounds itself occupy 10 hectares; another 10 hectares sit outside the school perimeter.
“The school was set up to ensure that the best-trained seafarers come from the Philippines; work the best ships in the world; earn premium salaries; and remit foreign exchange that uplifts the lifestyle and economic status of their dependents,” TDG Chairman J. Roberto C. Delgado said.
The school is the main corporate social responsibility program of the TDG which marks its 40-year celebration next year.
The NYK-TDG Maritime Academy was set up at a cost of $62 million, and provides a revolving fund of P100 million to educate its students who are obligated to return the cost of their education once they start earning. The formal school-setting part of the students’ education is done during the first three years of college, two semesters each year. The fourth year is done on a ship, where the students are given an allowance for their work.
“The cost of educating each student during his first three years of college is estimated at P1 million,” said Capt. Antonio R. Dael, MM, dean of the school’s Center for Continuing Education. The students are high-school graduates recruited by a team of industry experts who scour the country for young men seeking to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Marine Transportation or a Bachelor of Science in Marine Engineering to become professional maritime-industry workers. About 5,000 young men apply for the 120 slots available each school year.
“We hope to raise our current enrollment quota to 140 new students per year,” Delgado said. He said the school’s graduates get the highest salaries in the industry, between $2,000 and $7,000 a month net, depending on their positions.
Lemuel T. Capiral, the valedictorian of the Class of 2011, the school’s first batch of graduates, said that during his first two contracts (lasting eight months each contract), he was able to pay off his student loans and build a house for his parents and siblings.
Capiral is himself a chief mate, “customarily a watchstander in charge of the ship’s cargo and deck crew.”
Today Commision on for Higher Education supervises the country’s 90-plus maritime schools, 23 of which are certified by the Maritime Industry Authority, to meet the government’s standard of excellence, to ensure that these teaching institutions provide the best education and training to their students.
While other schools have a passing rate of between 45 percent and 50 percent, Delgado said, “All our graduates pass the government’s board exams. Our 100-percent passing rate is one record our school intends to preserve.”
The school provides its students state-of-the-art facilities, including classrooms featuring a single circular (“O” shaped) table to maximize acoustics and face-to-face interaction, a library-cum-study area, a relaxation center, a gymnasium, a “cafetorium” and an Olympic-size swimming pool outside. The school also provides dormitories, which serve as the living quarters for the students.
Students whose families live relatively nearby are allowed to spend their weekends outside the school. Those who hail from farther provinces often wait for the semestral break.
“It can be lonely for some students who only get to see their families a couple of months twice a year,” said Zandro L. Ortea, also a member of Class 2011 and now a second assistant engineer.
“The school operates on the triple principles of integrity, innovation and intensity,” Delgado said. These three principles are symbolized by the three huge dots atop a fountain directly facing the school entrance.
The school also has a helipad, where Delgado parks his helicopter whenever he, his children and guests visit the school. The commute is a short 30 minutes compared to the hourlong or so ride in a slow-moving traffic encountered when traveling by land. Delgado, a licensed helicopter pilot, has logged at least 1,500 hours of flight time to date.
“Our students study under the best teachers the school can offer, including visiting instructors from Japan. Our curriculum has standard college subjects given in both traditional and special teaching methods, including Kumon,” he said.
“We expect to produce well-rounded professionals who can become the manpower pride of the local maritime industry, and who can work the world’s best ships we operate with our foreign partners.”
There are an estimated 10,000 Filipino seamen currently working for shipping companies plying the world’s sea and oceans.