Venerable Maritime Official Capt. Gregorio Oca Dies at 83

January 2011

Back to IssueCaptain Gregorio Oca

The international maritime community recently mourned the death of Capt. Gregorio “Greg” Oca, chairman of the Associated Marine Officers’ and Seamen’s Union of the Philippines (AMOSUP). Oca, an iconic figure in the industry, passed away Nov. 21 at age 83.


SIU Secretary-Treasurer David Heindel, who also serves as chairman of the Seafarers’ Section of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), offered a eulogy during a Nov. 27 memorial in the Philippines, the night before the funeral. After pointing out that he’d worked closely with Oca, Heindel stated that thousands of mariners and the industry as a whole are better off because of Oca’s efforts.


“He was the kind of person who only comes along once in a lifetime,” Heindel said. “He was a tremendously effective leader. He built a thriving organization that supplies the greatest number of qualified mariners in the world. His keen vision and his tireless efforts provided not only employment but an opportunity for a career to thousands of Filipino people and a better way of life for them and their families.”


The SIU official further described Oca as “compassionate, warm and caring – someone who respected his fellow man, and who treated people with dignity and respect. In that same vein, he was trustworthy and forthright; Greg’s handshake was every bit as good as a written contract, thanks to his integrity…. Greg was an accomplished seafarer, a magnificent leader, a loyal friend.”


ITF General Secretary David Cockroft said, “Greg was a tireless leader of AMOSUP and a lot of what that union has built and achieved can be laid at his door. I had the pleasure of knowing and working with him for nearly three decades and can unhesitatingly say that he was a warm and vibrant personality as well as a great campaigner and leader. He will be hugely missed by all of us.”


He added, “Seafarer training, health and welfare were particularly close to his heart and if there is some comfort in this sad loss it’s that the work that he did in those areas – including the building of hospitals and training academies – will live on and serve as a monument to his career.”


ITF Maritime Coordinator Steve Cotton stated, “Greg believed in and fostered much of the best of what he, his union and the ITF stand for. He was a true believer in social dialogue, a champion of what can be achieved through international collective bargaining and a powerful supporter of social progress.”


Oca founded the Associated Marine Officers’ Union 50 years ago and merged it with the Associated Seamen’s Union of the Philippines in 1972 to create AMOSUP. He ensured that the ITF and AMOSUP worked closely together on every area of concern for mariners, from training to maritime law to piracy. His work was recognized within the ITF and far beyond, including numerous salutes from the Filipino government.


Oca laid in state for several days in Quezon City, and then was moved to a seamen’s center in Manila. Heindel described the scenes, including the weekend memorial service and funeral, as elaborate, tasteful and exceptionally well-attended.


Various maritime publications described Oca as “a pivotal figure” in the industry, with one headline calling his death the “end of an era.”

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