Trivia about Philippine Seacrafts

As a country entirely surrounded by water, the Philippines developed itself as a maritime power long before the coming of the Spaniards. Seas and other bodies of water served as highways rather than barriers to trade and communication. Boat making in the Philippines reached a high level that early Filipinos were building ships which sailed to distant shores. The naval expertise of Filipinos in shipbuilding and sailing were among the most advanced in the Western Pacific. The earliest Philippine ship that was mentioned by westerners was the balanghai or barangay. The one mentioned by Antonio Pigafetta in 1521 was estimated to be 80 palm-lengths and was used mainly for trade. Archaeological evidencefound in Agusan del Norte showed that balanghais were used up to more than 800 years earlier. Their use in carrying whole families in migrations made the term barangay, the term for the smallest and earliest form of local government in the Philippines.

The usual backdrop for the southern Philippine seas are the vintas with their multicolored square sails. Vintas are small and fast crafts with double outriggers. Its light weight, slim hull and large sails make it one of the fastest sailing crafts in the world.

Another type of vessel was the caracoa. Caracoas usually had sturdy outriggers on which rowers can sit on planks connecting them. Mainly used for warfare, caracoas could carry as many as 100 fully armed warriors. Often it had platforms from where fighters could shoot arrows, blowguns and spears. Brass cannons or lantakas were mounted on the prow and aft of the vessel.

Stamp and Official First Day Covers will be available starting 21 September 2000 at the Philatelic Division. Door 203, Liwasang Bonifacio 1000 Manila and all Regional Offices of the Philippine Postal Corporation.

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