The Flying Karakoa

The Karakoa was a sleek Philippine warship that was smooth and swift in compariason to the Spanish galleons. The Spanish navigated around the islands in a Karakoa. Father Combes, one of the first Spanish Fryars to document early Philippine history (1667-70) wrote:

"The care and technique with which they build them makes their ships sail like birds, while ours are like lead in comparison."


Since most documented history was written through the eyes of the western colonizers I often wondered what first contact was really like between the Spanish and the indigenous people of the Philippines, especially the Visayan clans since the Spanish landed in the Visayan islands first.

The Cebuanos welcomed them with hospitality and were easily converted to Christianity and pledged allegiance, without bloodshed, to the king of Spain. With the exception of chief Lapu-Lapu from Mactan island who sent Magellan to his demise.

The Karakoa Drawing


When I first read the book Barangay by William Henry Scott I was fascinated with the drawingof the karakoa. Was this really a warship or was the ship made for trade as well?Examining the details of the vessel I wondered about the tools and engineering that went into building such a seacraft. 

I imagined the ship builders as they were crafting this boat. Where did they get the engineering know how to build such a ship? What tools did they use? What were the materials? How was the sail made? What was the fabric? Was there somekind of dye used to color the sail? How was the dye made? Did they paint the ship and how did they make the paint? The more I sketched the karakoa into a CAD drawing the more I realize just how sophisticated the building of this ship must have been. The meticulous engineering and craftsmanship was surely something to take pride in and acknowledge that our ancestors were not as primitive as first led to believe. 

Now I had to create a CAD model to get a feel for how this ship was put together. One thing that blew me away was they didn't use any nails.
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