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  • Louella Esguerra

Old Maritime Vessels in the Philippines

I like to draw inspiration for my art from Philippines history so I have to make a conscious effort to attend exhibitions, read books and websites, or just watch random youtube videos. It's also nice to be able to appreciate the work of other artists. Sometimes staying cooped up in my own work bubble can be stifling and I just need to get out and explore a little.

I am a total sucker for small display boats and ships. I'd like to make one but I wouldn't even know where to begin. These maritime vessels aren't that small, they're actually about 1-2 meters and they are magnificent. I am at the Ayala Museum in Manila, Philippines and this is a display of all the types of ships that travelled to the Philippines including the Spanish Galleon, pre-hispanic sailboats, a Chinese Junk, Arabian Baghla, Lorcha, and Caravel. Since Philippines was a trade hub for many surrounding countries there were so many different types of boats and ships that dropped anchor on Philippines shores. Given that the Philippines is a collection of thousands of islands the seas are essentially roads and the Filipinos avid sailors.

Filipinos had made boats light weight and crescent-shaped with sails. Oarsmen would propel the boats while rowing to the rhythms of song. They were used for warfare, transport, and also living. The Karakoa (not displayed) was an outrigger warship which could fit 300 warriors. They would place lantaka (hand held and easily transportable) cannons on either end of the ship. This ship was an inspiration for a pair of sticks I had made and if I was going to make a mini-display boat version the Karakoa would be the one I would attempt to make. There is so much attention to detail to these boats. They were handcrafted from baticulin, laniti, apitong wood, string, buntal fiber, bamboo, and bronze.

So if there is a museum in Philippines I would definitely recommend visiting it would be Ayala Museum which is easy to travel to without much hassle due to its location. They have some great permanent exhibitions such as Ancestral Gold, and the Diorama on Philippines history. It's a smaller museum so you won't get over-dosed and exhausted with too much art.


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