The facility is the first of its kind to provide decent and budget-friendly accommodations to the thousands of OCW’s and seafarers who troop to various land-based recruitment and shipping agencies – mostly based in Manila – looking for a chance to work abroad as OCW’s or to board an overseas vessel as seafarers.
Before Pier One, thousands of Filipino OCW’s and seamen – majority coming from middle class and poor families in the provinces – were in sad plight as they are forced to make the streets of Manila, particularly in Intramuros and Ermita areas – their home because of the absence of affordable but decent and safe transient living space.
If the Philippines is known in the international recruitment industry as the recruitment capital of the world in Manila and also in the international shipping industry as the crewing capital of the world, Intramuros and nearby Ermita district is the hiring capital of the Filipino OCW’s and seamen. It is where most of the country’s overseas recruitment agencies, international shipping, crewing agencies and companies hold office.
Each day, thousands of OCW’s and seafarers from all corners of the country converge here, hoping to land a job abroad for land-based OCW’s or to await an international vessel assignment for seamen. On any given day, the Manila streets of Intramuros and Ermita are filled with these desperate men, waiting patiently under the searing sun for departure details to board their designated planes or ships.
The nights are even worse. To save on costs, as many as ten OCW’s and seafarers would squeeze themselves into a tiny, dingy motel room or apartelle in Quiapo, or Sta. Cruz, or Mabini. These are the fortunate ones. Other OCW’s and seafarers would sleep in grassy areas of Luneta, also known as the Rizal Park and others under a bridge, exposed to the elements and to frequent muggings by criminals.
Now, these sad plights of OCW’s and seamen are already things of the past. Thanks to Mr. Illac Diaz, one heroic Filipino entrepreneur who believes making money and social responsibility are two sides of the same coin. Mr. Diaz was responsible for building the Pier One Dormitory – providing affordable, clean, decent and safe transient home not only for Filipino seafarers but to land-based OCW’s as well. It is located in a 2,500 square meter lot at the corner of Corte Real and Solana Streets in Intramuros, Manila.
Pier One Corte Real’s Dorm has 700 beds, 500 are available in Intramuros and 200 of them housed in a smaller dorm in Ermita. While the accommodations are Spartan, it is a definite improvement over the rat-infested apartelles and small hotels in Quiapo, Sta. Cruz, and Mabini areas in Manila that seafarers and OCW’s from far-flung provinces used to rent.
Pier One facility provides OCW’s and seafarers a choice of accommodations depending on their resources. Guests can choose an air-conditioned room, a naturally ventilated room, or a mat area. There are 10 bunk beds to a room (5 double-deckers with Uratex foam mattresses). There is also enough space for a cabinet and a small locker to keep their belongings. In the non-airconditioned area, screened metal mesh walls provide ventilation. The mat area is equipped with plastic "banig" or mat.
Monthly prices range from 1,650 Philippine pesos for a bed in an air-conditioned cabin, 1,000 Philippine pesos for the naturally ventilated rooms, and 800 Philippine pesos for the matted beds. Daily rates vary accordingly but still comparatively cheaper than the daily rates of budget-cost apartelles and small motels in Manila.
For relaxation and exercise, there is a small gym with some worn-out bench presses, free weights and a secondhand Nautilus. There is a study area, as well as a common area where Sunday Mass and pre-departure seminars conducted by various non-government organizations (NGO’s) are held.
To all Filipino seamen and OCW’s, this is definitely your safe, clean and cost-friendly home away from home. Pinoy Tenant salutes and highly recommends the “Pier One Dorm” – so far the best seamen and OCW’s dormitory in Manila to date!
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