Remembering Jake aka Cook Alberto Baghari - The Unforgettable Sailor
I've worked with Cook Alberto Baghari, also known as Jake among his peers or co-sailors on board cargo vessel (MV Utviken) way back 2009 (from January until August). I was his 2nd cook (but I have a Cook license, no available item) at at the same time, mess-man for an all-Filipino crew (from Captain down to the lowest rating).
There was no dull moment with this ship veteran (starting his seafaring flight way back the 80s), aside from being a political science graduate.
His daily cooking showmanship was very spectacular among his peers. He always prepared a monthly-menu so that, he can cook variety of food based from international cuisines and the food provision available during our voyages.
He's a cheerful spirit, everyone of us agreed and taught us how to mingle every night at the ship's salon and enjoy music by playing live ( utilizing various musical instruments on board ship). He can play almost all of it, from bass guitar, rhythm guitar, drums and keyboard piano. There was no dull moment when he's on board, his old chums attested. And he's good in singing, too; especially the song Mexican Girl (by Smokie) and Nena (Heber Bartolome)
He fought for the rights of the crew, when it comes to food ration. A hardworking individual that earned admiration among ship's owner whenever they visited their ships.
He's fluent in Spanish language, the third language he loved so much, aside from Filipino and English.
And above all, most of the ladies clamor his company. We don't know why; maybe because he can fill their empty stomachs with gastronomic variety of food he always offer, whenever Filipino visitors crowded our mess hall.
Why am I relating this sailor to you? You're wondering how close am I with him? No malice about it. It is because he perished last October 2009, because of a freak accident. He was stabbed by a knife by a teenager in front of his house when he settled a dispute between a bar girl and the assailant.
What a pity. The sad news reached the Viken company, under Wallem Maritime Agency in Manila and also among his fellow sailors.
He will surely be missed. And for a year, I'm thinking on how I can make him known among those who remember him. I hope this hub will be opened by those sailors whose lives were changed because of Jake.
Jake: Memory Refreshed
When Jake or Mr. Rainbow, that's what I called him (because of his family name's meaning in Filipino language), he immediately approached me and asked about his fellow senior cook's menu. I told him, that I am also a cook, but was forced to accept a mess-man job due to financial constraint. I added that I also helped my former chief cook in the galley and during the inventory of food provisions.
In other words, we hit it off immediately. His routines each day, from the wake-up call (knocking at his cabin's door every 5:00 am), while I'm preparing to cook the rice and wash dishes used by night watchmen (the able-bodied seamen and ordinary seamen).
He cooked varieties of food each day, from Filipino cuisine up to those international cuisines, much to the delight of the Filipinos on board.
Our master knew him very much. He always cautioned him about her womanizing days. Sailors are always adoptable to the perils of the seas but with women...almost all succumbed to the temptation whenever the ship loaded and discharged cargoes.
Our routes traced his old ports. Even some port personnel and stevedores are familiar with his accomplishments. He's always ready to serve many enticing food that visitors from the shipping company enjoyed so much. Many remarked that with Jake on board, they felt like royalties because of the unlimited food being buffeted on their table!
For his family, his two kids were already finished in the college studies and enjoyed the fruits of their own jobs. He's supportive of his wife's extended family. He kept sending his100% allotment; his only expenses when going ashore came from his extra. He even borrowed from us, when he felt his budget was not enough.
Every night, if the ship is on voyage, he always draw us to the crew salon for a genuine laugh because of his jokes, and of course the jamming in music.
Tall-tales or fancy stories are not his type of coffee. He jested true stories that we can learn something from; his seaman's life, as an example.
His signature songs were the highlights of the night, with all the improvisation he made that made everyone laughing.
Our voyages, included: Canada, Germany, USA, Belgium and Netherlands, mostly at cargo ports. We were always teased by our co-Filipino crew because we always went ashore. Jake's principle reiterated that after 5:00 in the afternoon, we are free to go ashore; never mind the unwashed dishes that they just piled up on the sink.
There were times that I get easily drunk that he always accompanied me in my cabin. I asked him why he didn't get drunk even though he's always drinking each night. He replied that he just sipped the wine or liquor, not drink it. He cautioned me not to engage in a drinking spree that most sailors forget their jobs next morning due to hangover.
Acting as father-figure to me, he recommended me to be his reliever when his contract finishes but I declined. I was already 9 months on board and I had to go home because I was allergic with the cargoes of the ship, especial wheat and alumina (main ingredient-powdery white material used for making aluminum).
So. off we signed-off after his contract (6 months) was done.
I think, there was already a premonition for his untimely death. he cannot sleep on board the plane. He kept urging me to get some wine from the stewardess, even though all passengers, including me were already sleeping.
Back home, I momentarily forget about him as I was hurdling new challenge regarding my status in the company.
It was October 17, 2009 when his life finally wrote thirty. Finish. A very tragic incident that cost the life of this amazing man. A very good father to his family, and a best friend to all seamen who knew him.
Mr. Rainbow or Jake, wherever you are, you'll surely be missed. I was glad to know a senior sailor with vast, memorable experiences that you gamely shared to us.
Rest in peace, Jake. The sailor's band will still play your favorite songs.