By Annette Beech
The Victoria Filipino Community, BC Ferry workers, longshore workers and other maritime labour groups gathered donations from Victoria and Vancouver, for the stranded crew of Hajin Starlet. The Hajin Starlet is an ocean going freighter that was abandoned by their employer, who filed for bankruptcy, on Saturna Island.
The community volunteers delivered supplies, warm clothes, shoes, food such as canned goods, boxes of noodles, condiments, turkeys, ham, ten sacks of rice, a parol, twenty kilograms of pork, barbecue coals, cooked food, desserts and more, including a Christmas tree for the crew. There are ten Filipinos and six Korean crew members, including their captain.
Chief Cook Carlos shared their story and he said that they were okay. They had wifi connection to communicate with their loved ones, and they received their salary from June until November. They are currently waiting for their December pays. They have been in Canadian waters for more than four months and they did not expect to be here for the winter, so they did not have warm clothes.
Another crew member, Romeo Cabacang, said that it is lonely because they cannot get off the ship.
“We are stuck here and we don’t know when and how we can get out from this dilemma,” Cabacang said.
“Nobody knows when we are going home and we don’t have any information,” Carlos Asturias, another crew member said. “But we are very happy to see you and for our early Christmas gifts,” Asturias added with gratitude. They were overwhelmed with the presents from reporters from Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and other groups.
The captain of the ship said they were fine and are just patiently waiting for the resolution to the bankruptcy issues. While they are waiting, they keep themselves busy playing games, watching TV or talking to their families.