Reviving the Lost Art

The BALATIK (“constellation of Orion” in Hiligaynon, a language in the Western Visayas region) is our 74-foot long traditional paraw. The vessel, adorned with tribal carvings, has two outriggers and no deep keel — a design patterned after the cargo and passenger boats that navigated shallow reefs between Philippine islands over 1000 years ago. It took us two years and the shared knowledge of historians, craftsmen, and sailors to take this boat from our memories and back to the sea.

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“Finding men to build the boat had been the initial hurdle. There were no blueprints or diagrams. Knowledge of boat-making was passed down from generation to generation, so they searched the Philippines to find three master carpenters who still remembered the traditional structure. After two years of research and building…they fulfilled their dream and successfully launched the largest paraw in the Philippines.” – The Guardian

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Precolonial Philippine beliefs were animist, so building boats with timber often came with various rituals. Ancient boats were given anito (guardian spirits) and carved with tribal symbolisms. The Balatik is made of five different kinds of wood and was blessed by a tribal leader before its maiden voyage.

Project based on the past, but for future generations

“A return to sailing makes sense – our marine environment is threatened by overfishing and fuel prices are rising. Learning to sail again will help Palaweños escape dependence on gasoline and diesel while, at the same time, fostering a deeper understanding and respect for the sea. Projects like this may lean heavily on past knowledge, but they are very much the future.

Political and Environmental

Global society has lusted after technology and ‘progress’ for decades, at the expense of natural resources and quality of life. Now people are tentatively reversing back out of the cul-de-sac. This project is as political as it is environmental; it hands back knowledge, independence and power to ordinary people.” – Gener Paduga, native Cuyonon and engineer of the Paraw Project.

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