Boat builders we must remain

I have this lifetime obsession with boats.

I secretly spend a huge amount of time reading and writing about watercraft of all types. I enthusiastically ride them every chance I get—from the rakit (pontoon barge) of many Abra River crossings in my childhood and youth, to the modern inter-island passenger ships that ply the southern islands from the Port of Manila, which I’d usually choose over airplane rides.

This obsession always generates two persistent streams of thought: On one hand, my artistic (okay, melodramatic) side is hypnotized by the rippling, churning, foaming, almost magical flow of the sea or river in the wake of the boat. It’s a hypnotic feeling that rarely bores me.

Visayan caracoa structure
The superstructure of a Visayan caracoa, providing a glimpse of its features that made it a superb fighting ship for our ancestors. From W.H. Scott's "Boat-building and Seamanship in Classic Philippine Society," Philippine Studies Vol. 30 no. 3 (1982) 335-376

Continue reading “Boat builders we must remain”

Boatless Badjaos

Badjao houseboat
Badjao houseboat in modern times. (Photo from

I was just telling my neighbor here, Kabsat Kandu, about a chance encounter I had with a Badjao beggar family who were stranded in flooded urban streets, minus their boat.

I was recently in Manila, gulping down my second cup of coffee in a rush to catch an appointment, when someone banged on the steel gate of the old family home (which now housed a printing press) where I was staying. She was waving a letter and shouting in an unfamiliar language. The noisy machine drowned her out, and no one else in the house seemed to want to indulge a visibly desperate beggar.

“My lucky day,” I told Kandu with no trace of irony. Continue reading “Boatless Badjaos”

The secrets of Nagsasa Cove

Let me get straight to the point by sharing what I learned during a short stay at Nagsasa Cove in San Antonio, Zambales.

I won’t bore you with the usual mundane matters that you can Google from travelogues, such as how to get there, what’s so great about it, how to best enjoy your stay, what not to expect, and so on. Instead, I’ll tell you some interesting stories about Nagsasa, presented in Top-Ten style.

SECRETS TO DIVULGE. Every beach has a long and complex story to tell, and secrets to divulge, if only we become more observant and listen more closely. This small clump of growing coral, stranded on the beach, shows the paradox of fragility and resiliency tied up like yin and yang in every ecosystem.

So, without much ado, here goes: “Ten things you might not know about Nagsasa because you were so busy enjoying the beach, the scenery and the food.” Continue reading “The secrets of Nagsasa Cove”