The above photograph shows Ray Concha (24) painting “balaw”, a natural tree resin, on the paraw’s hull. Ray is the nephew of Bernardo and has been part of our team since May, he learned carpentry from his older brother and grew up with sailing small boats in Cagayancillo.
“I’ve known how to sail small boats since I was in grade five. Most people in Cagayancillo have some sailing knowledge. But even when I was a boy there were no more large traditional sailboats. I’m happy to see a big paraw like this and I’m enjoying the work – I’m learning a lot.” Ray Concha
The paraw is approaching the final stages of construction. We aim to attach the masts and outriggers next week and launch the sail for the first time on January 31, during the new moon.
Inside the cabin, our new carpenter Jaime dela Cruz is working on beds for the guests made out of “ulandeg” wood, which has a beautifully patterned grain.
The construction site now has a resident otter (a short-clawed Asian otter).
Simpio, 35, and his nephew Oten, 25, are from Española in southern Palawan. Both incredibly hardworking, supporting young families, they travelled to Maoyon to add their traditional designs to the paraw. “We are used to working until 1am and starting again at 5am,” says Oten. Upon hearing this Gener gave them head-torches to make their work easier.
Simpio has been carving since he was nineteen years old. He learned from his uncle, also a master wood carver.
“The tradition of wood carving is in our family, it’s in our blood,” he says.
They come from a family with a rich traditional and ritual life. Their designs include images of Palawan wildlife such as turtles, rays and fish.
“We want to preserve the traditional carving techniques of our ancestors,” says Oten. “Sometimes I invent a new pattern but usually I follow the designs of uncle Simpio, as he is my teacher.”
According to archaeologists studying the Tabon Cave in the municipality of Quezon, Pala’wan culture can be traced back 50,000 years and they are among the first people known to have inhabited Southeast Asia.
Their native script, or surat, as they call it is one of only three pre-hispanic scripts still in use in the Philippines today. The lettering on the paraw’s stern (pictured above) reads “Balatik“, “Orion” in English.
Although Pala’wan culture remains rich and vibrant, it is under threat. Learn more about the Pala’wan tribe from Survival International.
Download an article on Pala’wan ancient script from Discovery Channel Magazine.
On Thursday September 5, the day of the new moon and the highest monthly tide, the hull of the paraw was launched into a tributary of the the Babuyan River.
Over a hundred men, women and children came to help push and pull the boat into the water. A film crew came from Manila and others joined from Puerto Princesa but the majority came from the surrounding area of Mauyon.
It was amazing to see true Filipino bayanihan spirit in action. Local villages were all but abandoned during the launch. For those few hours, everyone had left their daily tasks to help get the paraw safely into the water.
The paraw, which had been on trestles, was lowered onto heavy logs, on which the hull could roll. Gener then set up a system of ropes and pulleys around the coconut trees. These ropes kept the boat from tipping to side to side while allowing a great number of people to pull the hull into the water.
It was a nerve-wracking process which took longer than expected. On three or four occasions the paraw leaned dangerously over and everyone rushed to the other side to correct it. The high tide (which peaked at 10am) had actually started to recede by the time the bow of the boat touched the water for the first time. By around noon the hull was afloat and just a small team continued to work to secure its position in the river.
The paraw will remain here for one or two months until it is ready to be fitted with outriggers, masts and sails.
A huge THANK YOU to the 102 people who joined us to launch the hull of the paraw:
Jose Yniguez, Alex Reyes, Marcus Swanepoel, Boy Yniguez, Pepito Juanzo, Maritess Juanzo, Noelle Reyes, Rosario Paduga, Christian Kattinger, Bonievie Budao, Zack Seracarpio, Solomon Mendoza, Andy Boehm, Leonisa Delos Angeles, Lorna Gacol, Agusto Vargas, Emma Dela Cruz, Irene Castro, Al Canta, Zaldy Sabanes, Boysi Bosi,Ana Maria Saavedra, Camilla Alaska, Gifford, Claveria, Alvin Solomon, Arnaldo Solomon, Jonathan Alaska, Edwin Pagkaliwangan, Bryan Bundac, Angelo Saavedra, Ryan Gacot, Nolito Monton, Lorna Luna, Chita Castro, Columbus Paguia, Roy Delos Angeles, John Del Sauren, Blas Paduga, Teodoro Senosa, Jun Tabang, Danilo Fantilanan Sr., Martillano Canopin, Candido Castro, Allan Palma, Francisco Agnas, Francismar Badenas, Francisco Villamor, Ronel Corpus, Ian Felizarte, Jay Paduga, M.J Aguire, Amparo Paduga, Romnick Arabi, Manuel Salba, Andrew Arabi, Morahge Canopin, Dhoy Bosi, Jacob Dela Cruz, Phing Alapaguia, Jun Monton, Roberto Bucsit, Armando Abrea, Nestor Dangan, Elmer Magdayao, Larry Launio, Edwen Asya, Incieto Sakling, Dominic Dacer, Jomer Andao, Dexter Rey Pantilanan, Adela Canopin, Lenie Luna, Danilo Pantilanan Jr., Darwin Padrones, Jayboy Dela Cruz, Irish Andao, Vargas Bornok, Ton-ton Vargas, Reymando Delos Santos, Jose Cabildo, Ian Magdayao, Dexter Castro, Ricky Sauren, Marlon Felipe, Ruben Delos Santos, Mark John Delos Santos, Ivan Sarenas, Randy Olorga, Marlon Bacosa, Moreto Bundac, Steven Padrones, Atong Abadiano, Richard Castro, Reymark Evangelista, Reynald Luna, John Carlo Fantilanan, Jerald Monton, Ellen Asya, Effren Asya and Denis Baruga.
Take a look through this brief selection of black and white images. [A colour photo-story documenting the whole day will follow in our next blog post.]