Through The Years ...
John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime University-Arevalo has contributed as one of the major sources of competent, loyal and dedicated merchant marine officers.
Truly, JBLFMU has a very humble beginning. The beginning of the Iloilo Maritime Academy (now the John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime University) was foreshadowed when a member of the Iloilo Harbor Pilot's Association and a reserved Lieutenant Commander in the United States Coast Guard Service, Master Mariner Juan Bautista Lacson.
Captain Juan B. Lacson, an alumnus of the Philippine Nautical School at the same time awarded as outstanding Master Mariner. Capt. Lacson established in Iloilo City in May 1931 a Review School for Marine Officers for higher grades. At the same time, drew-up a two year curriculum. With his brother Frank, a pilot, he acquired the necessary instructional materials and equipment. Then, he looked for a suitable place to hold classes and settled for a nipa building at Muelle Loney Street near the custom house at the waterfront. In teaching, he used a couple of Bowditch books, parallel rulers, several sets of triangles, a nautical chart and sextant. This course lead to the acquisition of a third mate license for the merchant marine officers as well as the reserve naval officers of the Philippine Navy. As a pioneering school in the history of private maritime education and training in Visayas and Mindanao, 60 cadets were enrolled on November 1948. A year passed and 150 juniors were enrolled.
About forty reviewing candidates for various marine grades enrolled, and ninety-five percent of them passed their respective examinations. Encourage by the success of the review class, the school continued with its operation from that year on.
When World War II broke out in 1941, the Review School had to close. Capt. Lacson was in United States at the time but his thoughts were on the fate of the maritime profession in the Philippines especially in the Visayas. He was impressed by the reception of the Review School and had talked of a plan with his brother. But things have to wait for better times.
The war ended. The late 1940's were the days of readjustment. There was the desire to forget the scars of war, to live anew in the days of peace. There was the need to build from the ashes of destruction, to hope again for the days of plenty.
This atmosphere was proper to ferment the spirit of adventure among the youth; and adventure is often synonymous with a sailor's life, seeing other places with ease and earning more salary that one could earn on land. A two-year academic preparation plus certain personal qualities were needed to assure one of a steady rise of the rungs of success as a mariner. The nautical profession, then, was the fastest and the least expensive to join, that is, if one was living near Manila and suburbs where the only nautical school was located at the time. Definitely, this is not for the poor youth of the Western Visayas. But Capt. Lacson believed otherwise. Through his determination and commitment, the review center grew. In 1993, Dr. Mary Lou L. Arcelo proposed the creation of different units. JBLCF Arevalo started its independent operation offering the Bachelor of Science in Marine Transportation. As an independent unit, it was led by Engr. Ralph L. Pador. Now, JBLFMU is producing qualified, competent and morally upright Filipino seafarers that will surely conquer the roaring waves of angry seas.