From headlines to shorelines

Former broadcaster makes ports appealing to public




The Manila Times

Maritime And Logistics

EUNICE Samonte, a 30-year-old broadcaster, has broken through a lot of barriers with her entry into the Philippine Ports Authority (PPA). Samonte defied the odds and joined the maritime sector, known to be a male-dominated industry, which is typically run by people who have been into seafaring and shipping for decades. The young woman had no shipping experience, nor a seafarer relative to learn the ropes from. Another challenge is taking on a job previously held by PPA’s constant — Siony Flores who has been with the agency since 1977 — thus, making her the first and arguably the only woman to have served PPA for the past four decades. Succeeding Flores’ post as corporate communication chief and earning two other positions such as spokesman and special executive assistant for communications to general manager, Samonte was faced with having to earn not just the confidence of the shipping stakeholders but also of the PPA press corps members who were already accustomed with Flores. But it was almost a breeze for Samonte. The press is her people. “I love that I can still practice my expertise in broadcasting and communication here at PPA. Where I used to be the one who gathers news, I am now the person who is the source of information for my media friends,” she said. After a decade of hounding headlines and deadlines, Samonte ventured onto the shores of shipping last November 2022 armed with her charm and communication skills to bring sea travel closer to the heart of the public. “This is what fueled me to enter the maritime industry. It is also the most challenging — making ports appealing to the public. Admittedly, we are all aware that people still prefer to travel by air rather than by sea. I want the public to know that it is convenient to use our seaports, and that great facilities are waiting for them when they travel by sea. I’d like to show them the world-class services of our ports. I want to bring our seaports closer to the hearts of passengers,” she explained. Samonte easily won the hearts of the stakeholders and the press covering the shipping and logistics sector. Her good-natured personality, honed through years in the broadcasting industry, public relations and television entertainment, put her viewers at ease with all the developments and changes in PPA. She has also brought fresh and vibrant energy to PPA’s endeavors. With all the launching of innovative programs and world-class ports around the country, Samonte is anywhere and everywhere. “I am a go-getter. I like getting things done so people perceive me as a workaholic. I am very strict with deadlines, and when I want to achieve something, I work hard for it,” she said. Today, PPA has more than 53 monitors distributed nationwide for seagoing passengers to watch all the latest goings-on in the agency. This is part of the PPA’s efforts to disseminate information on its projects, accomplishments and services. It also conducts regular public consultation like the one on Trusted Operator ProgramContainer Registry and Monitoring System, a program that is supposed to digitize port operations and lessen the high logistic charges levied on truckers and other logistics stakeholders. The said program, as it was strongly opposed by some customs brokers, is continuously clarified and improved by PPA officials along with the stakeholders. This, of course, is not the only issue and development that PPA is trying to introduce, improve or fix. As much as there are changes welcomed by stakeholders, there are also challenging ones that need extra patience and constant dialogues with maritime stakeholders. None of the encountered seeming resistance to change perturbed Samonte, however. “I come from the historical province of Cavite. It’s full of culture and national heritage that helped me a lot in becoming the person I am today. I adopted the courage of a Caviteño which I am applying today in my new work,” she stated. Outside of work, Samonte is a different person. Whereas she is daring and fearless at the workplace, she is gentle and fun with friends. While her workplace is a highly technical world of shipping, she gets creative at home through painting. Even as she is hardwired to slog and achieve, she craves the peace and calmness of the sea. She is mentally tough but not so much as to ignore cats — the woman is a cat person who feeds strays whenever she can. Her progressive mindset was influenced by philosopher and legendary stoic, Marcus Aurelius. “His writing taught me to pass emotions if you want to get things done. My favorite quote from him was that ‘You have the power over your mind, realize this, and you will find your strength’. The quality of our life, indeed, starts on the quality of our thoughts,” she concluded.