The Lonely and Dangerous Life of the Filipino Seafarer

"Arnulfo Abad, 51, the engine-room fitter, who has spent most of the last three decades on cargo ships, said he was grateful for the work. “The sea gave me my life,” he said.

The men on the ship are the sons of fishermen, carpenters and rice farmers. To be an officer — which most men aspire to — requires a college degree. Some who graduated paid for those degrees on the earnings from backyard piggeries, or made their pocket money selling Popsicles on the street.

They left behind lives in provincial villages where they could expect to make $100 a month. They earn 10 times that amount, often more, at sea."