We built the Tao Paraw to keep the tradition of sailing alive in Palawan.
In 2012, having been in steep decline since engines became available four decades earlier, local knowledge of sailing, natural navigation and sailboat building was on the brink of disappearing.
Exploiting the shared knowledge of historians and sailors, it took our team of local craftsmen two years to build, from design to completion and blessing by a tribal elder in April 2014. This vessel is truly unique, adorned with tribal carvings, it is a revival of an almost forgotten Filipino maritime culture. The design of bangkas with two outriggers and no deep keel can be dated back for more than 1000 years, navigating shallow reefs between the islands. They were used for transporting cargo and passengers but went into rapid decline when engines became widely available in the 1970s.
Gener Paduga, a native Cuyonon whose father and grandfather were both boat sailors, provided the the vision behind this project. He is now teaching local youth sailing and navigational techniques: “A return to sailing makes sense – our marine environment is threatened by overfishing and fuel prices are rising. Learning to sail again will help Palaweños escape dependence on gasoline and diesel while, at the same time, fostering a deeper understanding and respect for the sea.”
Since October 2014, the paraw has been sailing our regular route between Coron and El Nido. Learn more about joining one of these expeditions here.
“Projects like this may lean heavily on past knowledge, but they are very much the future. Global society has lusted after technology and “progress” for decades, at the expense of natural resources and quality of life. Now people are tentatively reversing back out of the cul-de-sac. This project is as political as it is environmental; it hands back knowledge, independence and power to ordinary people. Beautiful and ambitious, respect to you all.”
Comment from our Paraw Project blog (palawanparaw.wordpress.com)