Cebuano Boat Building

Various types of boats are recorded to have been built in Cebu even before the Spanish colonization. These boats range from damlog or balasiyan, small boats which are light enough to be carried by one man, to the big inter-island baroto, a meter and a quarter wide. But the most impressive of these local boats was the sleek and fast warship called karakoa. It had elevated platforms and catwalks on its outriggers and could hold as many as six banks of rowers. Built to be sturdy and flexible, the karakoa can withstand collisions with reefs in shallow water and can run at an admirable speed.

In contemporary times, the kinds of boats include the sakayan, baroto, or pumpboat depending on its size. The pump boat is powered by a gasoline or diesel engine. Invariably, these boats are produced by first carving out the keel (the boat’s bottom) or kasko, which serves as the boat’s main frame to which the side panels or parka are attached. The kasko is carved solid from the trunk of either a red lawaan or bolbolan. While some kasko may still be bought in Surigao, it appears that the supply of these may soon run out.

To achieve balance, the katig (outriggers) made of bamboo and rope are then added together with other fittings.

As of today, boat building is one of Cebu’s woodworking craft which is slowly disappearing. Restrictions on the use of wood have adversely affected the craft. However, a project of pumpboat making in Cordova which twelve boats were built was commissioned by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for its marine sanctuary in Hilutungan Island.

Extracted from an article by Raymund Fernandez

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