by Alan Robles
(originally published in Manila Chronicle, 1987)
ATTENTION, this is your captain speaking. On behalf of the crew, I welcome you aboard M/V Doña Derelicta.
First of all, may I request the passengers already on board to make more room for the newcomers? I’m sure if you raised your arms and exhaled, you can crowd in a few hundred more. Also, for your own safety, put things in their proper place: stand on your luggage and tie down all your children. And will someone please claim those two carabaos wandering on the lounge?
Our trip to North Harbor will take three days. It will take five days if we have good weather. That means we can stop and load more passengers.
All right, we can cast off now. Raise the anchor.
What’s all that yelling? Ano yon kamo? “Man overboard?” What do you mean, they fell when the anchor chain moved. Well, okay lang, nagbayad na naman sila, that means we have more space.
Where was I? Oh, yes, right now we’re moving at five knots and our efficient crew will soon be serving cold drinks. Just wait in line and dip your cup in their buckets.
Sailor, will you find out what that carabao is doing wandering in the passageway?
Anyway, we’re now well out to sea, and I’d just like to tell all our passengers a few things about our shipping company Suspicious Lines.
Our company has had 40 years of experience, just like our ships. The crews manning the ships have also had years of experience. Why many of them have repeated maritime school five times. Remember our motto: “If it’s safe, it must be Suspicious.”
Ooops, what’s that? More men overboard? Can I request the passengers on the deck to stop moving their shoulders too much? The ones near the railing are falling off. Thank you.
Now let me tell you a few things about the ship you’re riding. The Doña Derelicta has a distinguished record, having served the Imperial Japanese Navy in World war 2, before it served with Vietnam, Greece, Madagascar and Liberia, where we bought it after outbidding the National Museum.
The Doña Derelicta displaces 6,000 tons. If you find that number hard to remember, just think of the number of passengers on board right now.
We hope you’re enjoying the trip, ladies and gentlemen. And I’m not only talking to the passengers in First Class. I’m also talking to those in the lower decks. By the way, could you bale a little faster? Pwede ba, mga pare ko? And put some more spirit into the rowing.
We also have the latest in electronic equipment: why, all you have to do is come up to my cabin and look at my karaoke and Betamax. Very modern. And of course we have radio. Our chief petty officer has it in his shirt pocket right now, and he’s listening to Kuya Germs.
Isn’t sailing fun? Look at the scenery, but please don’t turn your heads too violently, you might rock the ship.
Over there to the right is an island; and there are some pumpboats. See, they’re moving rapidly away from that black cloud ahead.
Very high waves, huh? My, look at that rain. I guess that will save us on drinking water. Sailor, will you find out what that carabao is doing, swimming the the steering room? Hey, what’s that shark doing in my cabin? Hey, where’d everybody go? Gargle-gargle, blub-blub, lunod.
This voyage will be resumed as soon as government investigations end up getting nowhere.