Stary Night

The paraw is currently docked in Puerto Princesa and will soon be sailing to El Nido. StarsParawWP-1899

Approaching final stages

Painting "balaw" resin onto the lower hull of the paraw.

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).

Paraw Jan 2014-7570

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Traditional Pala’wan carving

Simpio and Oten, Pala'wan CarversFor the past ten days, two master carvers from the Pala’wan tribe have been working on the paraw, decorating the boat with their distinctive designs and surat, traditional lettering.

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.

Paraw-5126Their 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.

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Paraw intact after the typhoon!

Around 1am, early morning of November 9, the river water rose by around three metres – a combination of the new moon high tide, intense rains and a  storm surge caused by super typhoon Haiyan,  a couple of hundred kilometres to the north.

The carpenters abandoned their riverside camp, which was soon underwater, and stayed on the boat secured to nearby trees. Nobody slept. The wind blew and the rain poured well into the day time.

Thankfully, we were not in the direct path of the typhoon or it would have been much more dangerous.

We are so thankful to have such a knowledgeable and experienced team of boat-builders. They knew exactly what to do to keep themselves safe and prevent the paraw from getting damaged. Well done guys!

Eddie and Gener on the Paraw, roughly 2 months from completion

Eddie and Gener on the paraw November 4

“A visit to the jungle to check the building of the Paraw sail boat. Few months more and we will be cruising the island with this gem.” Eddie Brock, Nov 6, 2013

Portrait of Mindoro

Jaime Maltos, Senior Boat Builder

Jaime Maltos, Senior Boat Builder

I took this portrait of senior boat builder, Jaime “Mindoro” Maltos during the boat launch earlier this month.

Mindoro is 66 years old. He grew up in Romblon and sailed to Palawan [via Mindoro Island] when he was a young man.  He has lived on Palawan’s west coast for 22 years with his wife Filipina.

Mindoro began sailing when he was just ten years old. When he was fourteen his father, a fisherman and boat builder, taught time how to build his own small outrigger boat and sail alone using the wind and the stars as a guide.

To read more about our amazing team of carpenters, check the Maestros page on this blog.

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Short Film

Please visit our Facebook page to watch a short film about the paraw launch, shot and edited by Boy Yniguez.

It’s not up on the blog yet, so follow this link:

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