In the 1970’s and 1980’s (and also the 1960’s) with the support of the National Development Corporation (NDC) and maybe with some “marginal notes” from President Ferdinand Marcos we had a sizable ocean-going fleet (relative to the size of our economy and exports). In the main these were the successors of the ocean-going ships of the 1950s and 1960s that carried extracted natural resources (like logs, lumber, ores) and semi-processed products (like plywood, sugar, copra, coconut oil) outwards and finished products (like machinery, vehicle, spare parts) inwards and some of these were American-owned like Everett Steamship and American President Lines (APL) because US nationals can engage then in local business as if the were Philippine nationals because of the so-called “Parity Rights” inserted by the Liberal Party in our Constitution in 1947. When this special right expired in 1974, we tried to supplant the American ships acting as if locals in the foreign routes and so we increased our investments in ships but then what resulted was probably more ships than we needed.
There were three giants in the realm of our ocean-going ships in the 1970s and 1980s and they were obviously the first tier. These were the Philippine President Lines (PPL), Maritime Company of the Philippines and its twin Maritime Overseas Company whose local operations was the well-known Compania Maritima and Galleon Shipping Corporation. The first one also operated the United President Lines (UPL) which had ships chartered from the National Development Corporation (NDC), a government-owned company. Philippine President Lines came earlier in the 1960s and it seems it had special connection too the way they amassed their fleet. Maritime Company of the Philippines came in the 1950’s but really grew when there were already ships available for charter from the Philippine Government and they also availed of that. Meanwhile, Galleon Shipping Corporation only came in the Martial Law years. Of the three, the PPL/UPL had the most biggest fleet.
The Philippine President Lines also had local operations like the Maritime Company of the Philippines but they gave it up after a few years. On the other hand, Galleon Shipping Corporation did not sail the inter-island routes. The long-time visible heads of the Philippine President Lines and Galleon Shipping were closely associated with President Ferdinand Marcos then and many thought they were simply dummies and/or cronies. It was not banks that supported their expansion but the National Development Corporation which is owned by the National Government and that is controlled by the occupant of Malacanang Palace. Maritime Company of the Philippines, meanwhile, had Spanish connections and were politically powerful in their own right as one of the owners was a Senator of the Republic. They have also been around since the Spanish times.
Eastern Shipping Lines schedule of 1979 (Credits to Grek Peromingan and Mike Baylon)
Second tier of our shipping companies that had international routes in the 1970s and 1980s was probably sole occupied by the Eastern Shipping Lines which is related to William Lines whose owner is politically well-connected also. Their backing were not patsies as they were related to powerful politician clans and they were already long in shipping. But in terms of fleet size and ship size they were far behind Philippine President Lines, Maritime Company of the Philippines and Galleon Shipping Corporation.
There were other shipping companies with international routes in the 1970s and 1980s. But relative to the first two tiers they were even smaller and with just a few ships to their fleets. They might be called the third tier but over-all they were no longer that significant in the over-all picture of our international shipping with the probable exception of Universal Shipping which did not last the 1970’s much but they were very significant in the 1960’s. This shipping company was the international operations of the great Carlos A. Go Thong & Company.
Among those that belonged to the third tier were Molave Bulk Carriers, Philippine Ace Shipping Lines, Northern Lines, United Philippine Carriers, Philippine Transmarine Carriers, Philippine & Japan Lines, Trans-Ocean Transport, Botelho Shipping Corporation, General Shipping Company, Philippine Maritime Shipping Lines, Seven Brothers Shipping, ASEAN Liberty Shipping, etc. Their routes generally were only in the Far East except for those operating tankers which generally had a westward direction up to the Middle East.
If in the 1960s we had routes not only in the Far East but also to the West Coast and East Coast of the USA plus (Western) Europe. In the 1970s and 1980s our international routes were shortened. One reason was the plunge of one our best export then which came from coconut – copra, coconut oil and copra cake. This was due to the rise of substitute edible oils which happened when when a local, government-supported cartel, the UNICOM, tried to drive up the price of coconut oil in the world market, a move that backfired (and to think West Germany warned us that will happen). And by that time our forests were already exhausted by logging, too. The 1970s was also the time that the metallic ores demand nosedived due to the rise of plastics. We were left with not much to export except our laborers (and so we discovered the Middle East market for that).
One that cannot be ignored here is when the government took over the tanker business of LUSTEVECO, a locally-based American shipping concern that was affected by the ending of Parity Rights in 1974. From that move and also the taking over of the tankers of the US oil companies operating here like ESSO (a company which was known in the future as Philippine National Oil Company or PNOC) a local tanker fleet plying the international waters was born under the flag of the PNOC Oil Carriers Inc. The government did that to secure our oil position because then the demand in oil exceeded supply and securing of supplies was essential to prevent supply disruptions and the shooting up of local oil prices. In size, this tanker business of the government in the 1970s and 1980s was big enough to land it in the second tier.
The government also created the National Maritime Corporation (NMC) which was in general cargo. Again the rationale is to secure our supplies and exports. In size NMC was even better then than many of the third tier shipping companies. Again the National Development Company (NDC) financed the development of its fleet. It could have been a good move also because previous experience showed chartering of NDC of its vessels to private shipping firms in many ways resulted in them holding the empty bag when these companies folded. That means freighters that are not sailing and there were no interested takers and in many cases that resulted in ships being sold to the breakers at a loss since NDC is not into shipping. Actually it was the first tier overseas shipping companies which wer the biggest contributor to the “empty bag” when their operations collapsed at the height of the Philippine economic crisis of the 1980’s. Later, when the NMC was also losing and it was sold by the government under the privatization scheme and it landed under the control of the Magsaysay Shipping Group.
To illustrate the size of our ocean-going fleet then I will the list the fleets of the first tier.
The Philippine President Lines and United President Lines fleets and the years when the ship was in service in the company. Take note that although it was still a PPL ship there have been changes in names especially the use of “Lucky” and “Liberty” names:
Mabini/President Quezon/Seven Kings (IMO 5216240) 103.2m x 15.2m, 3805 grt, 1962-1980
Bonifacio/President Laurel/Jose Laurel/Laurel/Liberty One (IMO 5408001) 134.6m x 17.4m, 7156 grt, 1962-69
President Osmena/Seven Generals (IMO 5428726) 127.3m x 18.3m, 6778 grt, 1963-73
President Roxas/Lucky Seven (IMO 5425190) 125.7m x 18.3m, 5238 grt, 1963-73
President Aguinaldo (IMO 5407992) 125.7m x 18.3m, 5163 grt. 1963-1977
President Quirino/Elpidio Quirino/Quirino/Liberty Two (IMO 5264728) 134.6m x 17.4m, 7134 grt, 1963-1969
President Quezon/Lucky Five (IMO 5283774) 138.3m x 17.4m, 4958 grt, 1964-72
President Magsaysay/Magsaysay (IMO 1181786) 136.5m x 17.2m, 7300 grt, 1964-68
President Macapagal/Lucky Two (IMO 151.1m x 21.1m, 10200 grt, 1965-72
President Osmena/Lucky Three (IMO 5203047) 151.1m x 21.1m, 10,200 grt,1965-72
President Garcia (IMO 5025809) 151.1m x 21.1m, 10,200 grt, 1965-67
President Marcos/Lucky One (IMO 5298547) 151.1m x 21.1m, 10,200 grt, 1966-72
Emilio Aguinaldo/President Laurel/Lucky Nine (IMO 5365479) 125.7m x 18.3m, 5156 grt, 1967-75
Aguinaldo/Liberty Three/President Magsaysay (IMO 5103900) 136.1m x 17.2m, 7073 grt, 1967-72
Manuel Quezon/President Quirino/Lucky Eight (IMO 5351753) 125.7m x 18.3m, 5156 grt, 1967-75
President Magsaysay/Lucky Four (IMO 5305144) 133.1m x 17.3m, 5408 grt, 1967-71
President Garcia/Lucky Ten (IMO 5345388) 134.9m x 17.3m, 5413 grt, 1967-75
President (IMO 5127906) 162.0 m x 19.7m, 12457 grt, 1969-72
President Quezon (IMO 5190783) 151.2m x 19.5m, 9197 grt, 1972-29
President Osmena (IMO 5194818) 151.2m x 19.5m, 9205 grt, 1972-29
President Magsaysay/Lucky Eleven (IMO 5194301) 151.3m x 19.5m, 9202 grt, 1972-83
President Aguinaldo/Lucky Fifteen (IMO 5356698) 160.0m x 22.4m, 12194 grt, 1978-83
President Garcia/Lucky Nineteen (IMO 5219383) 159.7m x 20.6m, 9556 grt, 1979-85
President Laurel/Lucky Twelve (IMO 5191270) 151.3m x 19.5m, 9208 grt, 1980-83
President Quirino/Lucky Ten (IMO 5190680) 151.3m x 19.5m, 9202 grt, 1980-83
President Roxas/Lucky Nine (IMO 5194985) 151.3m x 19.4m, 9096 grt, 1980-82
President Osmena/Lucky 14 (IMO 5116646) 154.0m x 19.4m, 6784 grt, 1981-83
President Roxas (IMO 5415432) 186.2m x 24.7m, 17836 grt, 1982-85
President Aguinaldo/Lucky Twenty Four (IMO 6612594) 224.0m x 31.9m, 33171 grt, 1982-86
President Macapagal (IMO 5150783) 171.0m x 22.0m, 14842 grt, 1982-85
Philippine Laurel/Lucky Twenty One (IMO 6605668) 223.0m x 31.9m, 34160 grt, 1983-86
Philippine Quirino/Lucky Twenty Two (IMO 6711297) 138.5m x 20.3m, 7791 grt, 1983-86
President Quirino/Lucky Twenty (IMO 5085287) 156.0m x 19.7m, 9353grt, 1983-85
President Magsaysay/Lucky Twenty-Three (IMO 5414658) 186.5m x 23.0m, 18226grt, 1983-86
President Aguinaldo/Lucky Twenty Six (IMO 6509424) 194.7 x 24.5m, 18463grt, 1984-86
Philippine Laurel/Lucky Sixteen (IMO 6718702) 142.9m x 18.8m, 7680grt, 1984-84
President Roxas/Lucky Twenty Five (IMO 6522402) 188.1 x 25.1m, 17238 grt, 1985-86
Philippine Roxas (IMO 6804968) 245.4m x 32.3m, 42202grt, 1985-88
Philippine Garcia (IMO 6927028) 230.0m x 36.4m, 38985grt, 1985-87
Credits to Manila Chronicle and Gorio Belen
United President Lines (UPL):
General Lim (from NDC) (IMO 5127865) 144.0m x 19.0m, 8975grt, 1960-76
Philippine President Magsaysay (from NDC) (IMO 5277189) 155.5m x 19.6m, 9949grt, 1960-78
Philippine President Quezon [from NDC] (IMO 5277206) 155.5m x 19.6m, 9963grt, 1960-78
Philippine President Quirino [from NDC] (IMO 5277218) 155.5m x 19.6m, 9759grt, 1960-78
Philippine President Roxas [from NDC] (IMO 5277220) 155.5m x 19.6m, 9938 grt, 1961-78
Philippine President Osmena [from NDC] (IMO 5277191] 155.5m x 19.6m, 9941grt, 1961-78
The Philippine President Lines acquired the Philippine President ships earlier between 1960 and 1961.
MCP schedule of 1979 (Credits to Grek Peromingan and Mike Baylon)
Ships of Maritime Corporation of the Philippines and Maritime Overseas Corporation Chartered from the National Development Corporation:
Philippine Antonio Luna (IMO 5277103) 156.4m x 19.6m, 9904grt, 1967-82
Philippine Bataan (IMO 5277115) 156.2m x 19.4m, 9894grt, 1967-82
Philippine Corregidor (IMO 5277139) 156.5m x 19.7m, 10035grt, 1967-80
Philippine Jose Abad Santos (IMO 5227714) 157.0m x 19.7m, 10015grt, 1967-68
Philippine Rizal (IMO 5277232) 156.2m x 19.5m, 9912grt, 1967-82
Philippines (IMO 5277268) 155.5m x 19.6m, 9982grt, 1967-80
Other MCP and MOC Ships (basically their owned ships):
Sarangani Bay (IMO 5092187) 153.7m x 19.7m, 7355grt, 1967-72
Lingayen Gulf (IMO 5092175) 153.7m x 19.7m, 7355grt, 1968-73
Puerto Princesa  (IMO 5282495) 142.9m x 19.6m, 7179grt, 1972-78
Cabo Bolinao (IMO 5066542) 135.4m x 17.3m, 6192grt, 1971-84
Cabo Bojeador (IMO 5009582) 126.2m x 15.2m, 2792grt, 1971-83
Cabo San Agustin (IMO 5025835) 126.2m x 15.2m, 2788grt, 1972-83
Puerto Princesa (IMO 5282495) 142.9m x 19.6m, 7179grt, 1972-78
Lingayen (IMO 5051353) 134.5m x 16.5m, 3111grt, 1973-79
Sarangani (IMO 5255052) 134.5m x 16.5m, 3111grt, 1973-83
*Isla Verde (IMO 6413819) 148.8m x 18.8m, 7891grt, 1975-84
Palawan (IMO 6906036) 150.7m x 20.1m, 8838grt, 1976-84
Antipolo (IMO 6927559) 148.6m x 21.2m, 9403grt, 1977-84
Puerto Princesa  (IMO 7026651) 157.2m x 21.9m, 10661grt, 1978-84
Corregidor/Nasipit Bay (IMO 7052985) 150.7m x 20.0m, 9160grt, 1978-84
**Mindanao  (IMO 6813497) 141.0m x 18.6m, 5591grt, 1978-84
Balintawak (IMO 6922274) 148.6m x 21.1m, 9043grt, 1980-84
Mayon (IMO 70354687) 157.0m x 21.8m, 10661grt, 1980-84
Manila (IMO 7044093) 153.3m x 22.9m, 10586grt, 1980-84
Zamboanga (IMO 7211397) 153.3m x 22.9m, 10644grt, 1980-84
*was also used in the inter-island route
**different from their ship of that name used in the inter-island route
Galleon Shipping schedule of 1979 (Credits to Grek Peromingan and Mike Baylon)
National Galleon Shipping Corporation ships:
Philippine Rizal (IMO 5277232) 156.2m x 19.5m, 9912grt, 1978-82
Galleon Coral  (IMO 5277177) 155.5m x 19,6m, 9937grt, 1978-80
Galleon Shipping Corporation Vessels Chartered from the Philippine Government:
Galleon Opal  (IMO 5277220) [ex-Philippine President Roxas of PPL], 155.5m x 19.6m, 9936grt, 1978-80
Galleon Jade (IMO 5277206) [ex-Philippine President Quezon of PPL] 155.5m x 19.6m, 9963grt, 1978-
Galleon Pearl (IMO 5277218) [ex-Philippine President Quirino of UPL] 155.5m x 19.6m, 9759grt, 1978-
Galleon Ruby (IMO 5277268) [ex-Philippines of xxxx] 155.5m x 19.6m, 9982grt, 1978-80
Galleon Coral (IMO 5277177) [ex-Philippine President Garcia of PPL]
155.5m x 19.6m, 9937grt, 1978-80
Galleon Onyx/Galleon Opal (IMO 7602429) 162.6m x 22.9m, 11507grt, 1980-82
Galleon Sapphire (IMO 7602417) 162.6m x 22.9m, 11507grt, 1980-82
Galleon Topaz (IMO 7602560) 162.6m x 22.9m, 11401grt, 1979-82
Galleon Amethyst (IMO 7602572) 162.6m x 22.9m, 11401grt, 1979-82
Galleon Aquamarine/Galleon Trust (IMO 7912563) 162.0m x 23.1m, 13607grt, 1980-84
Galleon Diamond/Galleon Honor (IMO 7915242) 163.1m x 23.1m, 13885grt, 1980-84
Galleon Tourmaline/Galleon Integrity (IMO 7912551) 163.0m x 23.1m, 13607grt, 1980-84 [became Madrigal Integrity]
Galleon Agate/Galleon Dignity (IMO 7912575) 163.1m x 23.1m, 13886grt, 1981-84
Galleon Emerald/Galleon Pride (IMO 7915254) 163.1m x 23.1m, 13886grt, 1981-84
The National Galleon Shipping Corporation just survived a few years more the crisis years of 1983-86 than Philippine President Lines and Maritime Company of the Philippines. But all went down in those crisis years. Those crisis years at the tailend of the dictatorship of President Ferdinand Marcos was the deadliest for Philippine shipping and even worse than World War II because the lost ships in that war were replaced by the USA after they requisitioned them or had them scuttled.
In the latter years, it is only the WG&A fleet (combined passenger and cargo) that can rival the fleets of any of the first-tier overseas shipping companies in terms of total Gross Register Tonnage (GRT) , the classical method of comparing fleet sizes.
When President Cory Aquino ascended into office there was great lack of foreign currency and capital in general because of the relatively profligate administration of President Ferdinand Marcos and the leaks in the national budget. We were then in tight reins of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and we have to pay 25% of the national budget to our lenders. There was really no more money to support these dinosaurs who wer already behind in the paradigm change to container shipping.
Ironically, when the overseas shipping companies supported by the government all collapsed, it was the local lines that had containers ships remaining from the likes of Aboitiz Shipping Corporation, William Lines Inc., Sulpicio Lines Inc. and Lorenzo Shipping Corporation but their operation was only inter-island. It was only Aboitiz Shipping that had an international route with their Aboitiz Overseas Shipping Corporation (AOSC) and Eastern Shipping Lines vessels also carried a few container vans atop their cargo ships. Ironically again, some of the ships seized by the National Development Corporation in the fleet of Galleon Shipping were converted into container ships of when it was sold to Uniglory Marine Corporation of Taiwan. These were the Galleon Opal, Galleon Sapphire, Galleon Topaz and Galleon Amethyst.
When our ocean-going fleet was dying the likes of South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore wer testing the business of international container shipping with government support. Now their container shipping lines are all world-ranked while we don’t have a single overseas container line. If there was a reversal of fortune then this is it. And it also showed how from being one of at least an average economy we became “The Sick Man of Asia” whose shipping fleet is laughable now by the standards of its once peers or near-peers. We don’t have international shipping lines anymore and so all we do now is export our mariners and call them “heroes” but treat them shabbily for most times and require a lot from them.
And that is practically the story of our international shipping for the past half century or so.