“THEREFORE, John, you must work hard!” was a famous line from the sitcom John en Marsha in the 1970s, the same line that inspired retired seaman Julian “Dodong” M. Bercero, now 68, to strive hard to succeed.
“I was a young boy from Antique who dreamed and worked hard to achieve my goals to become a successful man who could provide for my family,” Dodong said. “I did not want my children to experience the hardship I went through. That’s why I became a seaman. I was told the work gives good benefit and compensation.”
Dodong said that as early as when he was 10 years old, he started helping his mother on their small farm. His father passed away when he was still 1 year old. He did all the farm work from guiding the carabaos to plowing the rice and corn fields to smoking the mango trees to help them bear fruits to make both ends meet. He helped his mother until he graduated college.
When he became a seaman, Dodong described his work as difficult. “The job of a seaman was dangerous,” he said. They had to contend with strong waves and tornadoes that were inevitable when they were on duty.
The situation was made even more difficult because he was away from his family for months at a time. Unlike now when communication is instantaneous, 20 to 30 years ago, it took weeks for letters to arrive or days before people, especially those working at sea, to be able to speak with loved ones.
“There was no Facebook nor Skype during my time,” he said. “Being mostly at sea, we mainly communicated by snail mail.”
Dodong, a second engineer, sailed almost all the continents all over the world during his almost four decades in service. He is a father to three children who are now all successful in their own fields. One is an electrical engineer who followed his path on being a seaman. Another is a psychology graduate, while the third child is still studying to become a chemical engineer.
These days, Dodong enjoys his time with his four grandchildren and his seven fighting cocks.
“The blessings my family has right now were the fruits of all the hard work and sacrifices I made over the past 37 years of being a seaman,” Dodong said.