|Balanghai ride along Manila City Hall|
Since monsoon rains are a regular thing this side of the planet, and massive flooding is assured too every year, we might as well deal with the double whammy.
Apparently, we are not dealing with these right by treating the annual phenomenon as a problem and a threat. What if we view it as an opportunity instead? If Venice can draw millions of tourists from its flooded vistas and boat rides, we have no reason not to attract the same legion of visitors for our own boat rides around the flooded districts of Manila.
Of course, we must exert an effort to be original, so as not to look like a shameless copycat. We can draw from our own trove of indigenous treasures. For starters, we have the balanghai perfect for the purpose. We have at least several other such ancient watercraft, so why don’t we try this tack, if not for the tourists, then at least for ourselves? We can’t possibly rely on the government each time we need rescuing — that would be too demanding, if not bratty an attitude.
The Thais, too, are reportedly good in this, vending fruits and finger foods on riverboats. And the Hong Kongers, too, with their ancient sampan rides. At home, down south, we can look to the Badjao’s ancient technology for other survival tips.
So balanghai is a seacraft — so what? We can probably adjust the design. We might want to add vintas and karakoas and paraws to the mix. No matter which, let’s not call the boats gondola, for Pete’s sake. Let’s leave the patent for the gondola to the Venetians.
Let’s stand back and watch how tourists paddle merrily away around the city’s floodwaters!
Indigenous water vessels as tourist attractions, now!
Bangka, Vanca – dugout canoe; often spelled banca
Tapake – bangka with outrigger
Vinta – tapake with triangular or squarish sail
Parao, Prau, Proa, Padao, Palao, Basnig – outsized version of vinta; copied by Arabs as dhow
Balanghai, Balanghay, Baranggay – improved version (higher and sharper ends, flooring, and shed) of parao
Karakoa, Caracoa, Caracao, Koro-koro – balanghay with bahay or kubo
Dyong – ship made of wooden planks pieced together to form the hull
Sampan, Champan, Junk (American English) – Chinese version of dyong
Galleon, Manila galleon – Spanish trade ship using Philippine hardwood and pre-Filipino forced labor
Galleria, Galley – miniature galleon used for war by invading Spaniards against Muslims
Lepa – Badjao boathouse with intricate (okir?) carvings, including those hidden, on the keel
Tataya – traditional Ivatan boat; the only type of rowing boat in the Philippines; has five kinds
Owong – T’boli dugout canoe made from lawaan tree; syn. Bito?
Sapyaw – Butuan raft based on the balanghai; originally from Capiz; term literally means manglimas or magtabo (technical terms used for catching fish)