15 Filipino Seafarers Honored by Norway

Fifteen Filipino seafarers were commended by the Norwegian Armed Forces (NAF) on Thursday for assisting the Norwegian government in removing chemical weapons from Syria, according to a report by ABS-CBN News.

The Operation Medal was awarded to civilians the first time since World War II and, in fact, the Filipino seafarers of MV Taiko were the first non-Norwegian civilians to receive the honor.

The mission was carried out from December 2013 to July 2014 on behalf of the United Nations (UN) and the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

Ted Jallorina, one of the Filipinos honored, beamed with pride as the medal was pinned on him.

“Nakakatakot, pero masaya din na may nagawa kaming ganito. Malaking honor, para din sa ibang Pinoy na seamen,” he said.

An earlier ceremony in June saw six other Filipino seafarers of MV Taiko receive the Operation Medal award.

Norwegian Ambassador to the Philippines Erik Førner highlighted the significance of the Filipino seafarers taking part of the mission.

“The 15 seafarers represented here today ensured that hundreds of tons of chemical weapons were transported from Syria and safely destroyed,” the ambassador said.

During the mission, a total of 43 civilian seafarers from Wilhelmsen, the owner of MV Taiko, served on board MV Taiko together with representatives from the Norwegian Armed Forces, according to the website AllAboutShipping.co.uk.

The maritime sector is the centerpiece industry of the Philippines-Norway bilateral relations, as over 25,000 Filipino seafarers are onboard Norwegian-owned or controlled vessels at any given time.