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Capt. Igal Dafni
Managing Director of Iris Logistics


Can the Iris Paoay Save Xmas?

By Adam Behar


The holiday shopping rush is quickly approaching, but instead of cheer, there is fear in the air.


“Forget about The Grinch: It looks like supply chain disruptions may steal Christmas this year,” warns CNN.  Bloomberg News’ take is even darker: “Christmas at Risk as Supply Chain 'Disaster' Only Gets Worse.”


For the Fil-Am community, supply chain disruption could mean that coconut-based products, not to mention toys and a host of other items you count on, might be missing from store shelves this holiday season.


Imagine Christmas without maja blanca!


To the rescue: It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s…well, actually, a ship…not just any ship, mind you, but a container ship named the Iris Paoay, sailing under the Philippine flag, on an international voyage to the United States.


Built in 2006, this vessel is carrying the goodies that Filipino Americans need for a traditional Christmas celebration – yes, including coconut oil, coconut water, desiccated coconut, organic coconut flour, and hundreds of non-coconut items too. 


The Iris Paoay left Davao, by way of Manila, on October 4th and is expected to reach its destination, the Long Beach port, the second largest in the U.S., on Oct. 27, says Capt. Igal Dafni, managing director of Iris Logistics.


The last time a domestic container ship from the Philippines traveled nonstop to the U.S. in international waters was 45 years ago, says Capt. Dafni, who spent two decades on the high seas, running general cargo ships, tankers, bulkers, and containerships. Retiring from the sea in 1985, Capt. Dafni completed his bachelor and master degree in mathematics science from Haifa University in Israel.


He recently came out of retirement to take on this challenge. How big of a deal is the Iris Paoay voyage?

“History in the making,” he says. “We’re looking at this as a national mission. It’s a milestone in Philippine maritime history.”


How did this logistical change come about? In mid September, Dafni requested that the government of the Philippines grant Iris Logistics a special permit – essentially, an exemption from the regulation preventing domestic container ships from sailing internationally. This regulation has been the great stumbling block that prevents local shipping lines from going international.


But this time, because of the post-pandemic supply chain crisis, the government of the Philippines was more flexible. Dafni’s request was accepted and Iris Logistics was issued a one-year special permit allowing Iris Logistics to directly serve international ports. No other shipping line currently possesses this type of permit, so it’s big point of difference for Iris Logistics. Dafni says he appreciates the support of the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina), which approved the permit. After a year is over, Dafni says Iris Logistics will seek to extend the permit.


Without the permit, the Iris Paoay would be facing a much longer and more expensive journey to Long Beach. After departing the Philippines, the vessel would have had to comply with a mandated stop-over at a main shipping hub in Hong Kong, Shanghai, or Singapore, before moving on to its international destination.


For the next year, at least, local importers can now avoid the oppressive destination charges often levied by foreign shipping lines. Shipping costs can now be reduced for Filipino traders, improving their profit margins.


And perhaps best of all, Filipino Americans in the diaspora can have regular access to their favorite Filipino foods and flavors. Here, by the way, are just a few items the Iris Paoay is transporting to Long Beach:


Canned and bottled food products, sour soup mixes, oyster sauce, banana chips, furniture, toys –and yes, all types of coconut products.


Editor’s Note: Iris Logistics acknowledges the support of these government agencies and partners in both countries:


U.S. Embassy

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)

Maritime Industry Authority (Marina)

Bureau of Customs Port of Manila (POM)

Philippines Exporters Association

BOC (Bureau of Custom)

PPA (Philippine’s port Authority)

ATI International terminal in Manila



SSA (Stevedore Services of America), their terminal operator in the U.S.

NORTON LILLY, their agent in the U.S.

FMC for granting us a VOCC (vessel operator common carrier) permit

US customs

US- Filipino-American Chamber of Commerce, North San Diego led by Femie Cupit


Iris Logistics, which operates a fleet of vessels including the Iris Paoay, is a subsidiary of logistics giant Royal Cargo.
























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