Farmer to Seafarer: The Story of Bell John Eleccion

Eleccion is the second son of Camilo and Florentina Eleccion, humble farmers from San Remegio, Cebu. He was born in the same area, however, after being asked to leave the land that they are occupying, he and his family moved to Dalaguete, Cebu. With only farming as his parents’ source of income, they were only able to build a small hut. The floor was made of arranged stones and they can only sleep and sit inside since they can barely fit in.

Without the capability to afford electricity, their only source of light at night was a kerosene lamp. Nevertheless, it didn’t stop nor hinder Eleccion to do his best in his studies as well as help his family to earn more money. Through their hard work, they were to build a bigger hut made out of bamboo, but it didn’t last long as it got burned which left them with nothing but ashes and broken hearts.

After that incident, with baby steps, they tried to build another house, a concrete and stable house. And to avoid further expenses, they were also the one who carried all the construction materials from the town to their farm. They didn’t mind that they had to travel a kilometer to reach their destination. Because of these series of luckless events, it added burden to his studies.

“Despite of the situation, I still continue going to school. I went to school without any penny in hand except of a hardboiled corn grits mixed with sweet potatoes (commonly known as “sinanduloy”).” Eleccion said. So, on most days, he wakes up as early as 4 in the morning to prepare the food wrapped in banana leaves for himself. On less fortunate days, “I went to school with dish of salted fish and sometimes with only sprinkled salt on top of my food.”

Yet again, he proved that nothing will come in the way when it comes to his studying; he even bagged several awards in grade school, climbing from fifth place in grade 3 up to second place in his last year. As it turned out, that was just a nudge since his journey was just about to start.

When Eleccion reached high school, his financial problems worsened. He had to have at least 15 pesos for the fare to get to school yet, he had to put in mind that his younger brother also started going to school. Their income was just enough for their food; they had no choice but to think of other ways to earn money.

From farming, they ventured into selling fire woods which require more time and effort to produce and sell. On some days, Eleccion and his family would be lucky and they’d be able to hitch on trucks with their produces, still, there were also days where they’d be waiting for a whole night even if the rain was pouring hard.

He had to juggled studying, working, and saving all the same time. Despite all his struggles, he stayed true to himself, a truly admirable quality of a person in his age. But, fate wasn’t really that bad, because it gave him friends who stood up by his side, defending and supporting him.

His mother, being fully aware of their situation, already knew that she wouldn’t be able to send his son to college without any scholarships or bursaries. So, Eleccion applied for all the available scholarships he encountered. He ended up joining the Norwegian Shipowner’s Association Philippines Cadet Program (NSA).

Though he passed the entrance exam, he knew it was going to be a tough journey and of course, money would always be a problem. So, he used all the money he saved up from selling root crops and fire woods and he wakes up as early as 3 in the morning just to be in the city by 7 or 8 AM.

During the interview, he was asked why he chose the field of maritime, of all the other fields available. With sheer determination and passion, Eleccion answered, “Sir, my family relies on farming and because of the climate change we can’t rely on their harvest anymore. I need to find another source of income and I chose this field.”

This kind of student is what the Norwegian Shipowner’s Association Philippines Cadet Program (NSA) is looking for. A student with a heart that aims to help not only himself but the people who raised him. Like any other stories of seamen from the Philippines, what pushes them to work hard is their family. Eleccion, albeit being young, already has this heart.

Eleccion spent what’s left from his savings for uniforms and basic necessities in the dormitory. He knew full well how hard it would be to depend on his parents so even after passing the interview and becoming a scholar, he kept doing what he was doing. “I know how difficult it was to depend on my family for my basic expenses, so I started to think a way to earn money while I’m inside the dormitory. I decided to offer laundry services to my fellow and senior cadets. And I believe in the saying, problems are like never ending waves in the ocean. You cannot stop them but learn to surf.” He shared.

Through his earnings, he was able to save up for his passport, seaman’s book, and other necessary documents he needs for his cadetship. It was unfortunate that he couldn’t go home for his first five months, but instead of feeling sad, he turned it into an opportunity to mingle and get to know the other cadets.

His allowance and his earnings either go to his savings or to his family, “I didn’t ask money from my family. In fact, I sent one-third of my allowance to them.” he said. He never stopped making ways to make it easier for his family, doing everything he can to avoid being a burden. One of his promises to his family as soon as he starts earning as a seaman is to finally get electricity for their house.

When he graduated last March 2017, it was almost expected that he would close this chapter in his life with a well-deserved award of Cum Laude honor. Even though he has still yet to pass the exam for the Officer-in-Charge of Engine Watch Keeping, it is already more than enough for his family to feel proud of how far Eleccion has come.

Bell John with his mother and brother holding the academic excellence recognition from NSA and BW Fleet Management

As he is about to open another chapter of his life, he couldn’t help but feel thankful to all the people who had left a mark on his life. He knows well enough that it would not have been possible if not for his family, friends, and classmates. He also expressed his gratitude towards the Norwegian Shipowner’s Association Philippines (NSA) and BW Fleet Management for giving him this chance and a job that indeed will secure not only his but his family's future. 

“Kung makwarta naka, ayaw jud kalimti ang imong naagian nap ag-antos.” (When you get better in life, don’t forget what you have gone through.) Eleccion said as he reminisced his journey, his heart filled with joy knowing that he has reached this far. 


  1. I admire you a lot. Keep your feet on the ground. God bless :)

  2. Mabuhay ka Bell John Eleccion. Kahanga hanga ang determinasyon mo sa buhay. Sana katiting man lang ng mga kabataan sa panahon ngayon ay tumulad sa iyo. Malayo mararating mo at masaya ako sa lahat ng karanasan mo sa buhay, pagkat ito ang magpapatibay sayong humarap sa lahat ng mga problema sa buhay. God bless you at ang iyong pamilya, good luck sa lahat ng mga haharapin mo. 😉

    P.s. Baka kilala mo ang pamangkin ko na nauna lang sayo ng 2ng taon. Si Miguel Luigi A. Dava. Kababalik lng nya galing ss una nyang sakay. Car cartier ship at 371 days syang nag pa laot bago sya bumslik nitong linggo.
    Mabuhay kayong lahat mga Sesman 😉😎😉😎😀

  3. Maka proud kaayo ka idol og naga hatag kag insparasyon sa tanan.. GODBLESS IDOL AND YOUR FAMILY 😇😇


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