Last updated

A paraw on a Philippine postcard (c.1940) Parao postcard from the Philippines (1940).jpg
A paraw on a Philippine postcard (c.1940)
A paraw sailing on Boracay Island Boracay Sailing Paraw.jpg
A paraw sailing on Boracay Island

Paraw (also spelled parao) are various double outrigger sail boats in the Philippines. It is a general term (similar to the term bangka ) and thus can refer to a range of ship types, from small fishing canoes to large merchant lashed-lug plank boats ( balangay or baloto) with two outriggers (katig) propelled by sails (usually a large crab-claw sail opposite a smaller triangular foresail)



1913 photograph of a paraw off Bacolod, Negros with traditional Austronesian crab claw sails Native Prao, off Bacolod, Negros (1913).png
1913 photograph of a paraw off Bacolod, Negros with traditional Austronesian crab claw sails

The word paraw (also spelled parao) is a cognate of the terms proa of the Pacific Islands, and perahu or prau of Malay-Indonesia. It refers to outrigger boats propelled by sails (layag). It is a type of bangka , the wider term used for boats (with or without outriggers) in the Philippines.


The paraw has three major elements that make it a paraw: the bangka (canoe or main hull), the katig (outriggers), and the layag (sails). Motorized versions of bangkas (with outriggers) are commonly known as pump boats and are used for inter-island travel.

Paraws can sail between 11 and 17 knots (20~31 km/h). The outriggers (ama), or katig, are made of wood or bamboo, and may be straight or curved upward much like skis.


A paraw sailboat on a beach Paraw (Philippines).jpg
A paraw sailboat on a beach

Traditionally these boats have been made from dungon, guisoc, ipil, duca, baslayan, obacya, bayog, Philippine mahogany (lawaan), basa and molave . Modern versions use plywood. The ropes of the boats are traditionally made from abaca (Manila hemp), but are now often synthetic rope.

The main hull (excluding outriggers) is called a bangka for dugout canoes or baloto (also balangay, baroto, biroko, biray, etc.) for hulls made of planks secured with lashed lugs. The boat itself may be classified by passenger capacity as isahan ('for one [person]') or duwahan ('for two [persons]'), but the paraw usually has capacity for more than two people, leading to its use in ferrying small groups of passengers and goods between islands. The narrow cross-section of the boat made it sleek, cutting across water without a lot of drag.

The two katig or outriggers usually made from bamboo or various kinds of wood and served as counterpoise so that the boat would not easily overturn. They are attached to the boat via tarik (akas). The presence of the outriggers negates the need for a heavy keel and therefore reduces the overall weight of the paraw without sacrificing stability.

The layag or main sail may be made of anything from woven mats, cloth, canvas even sack cloth. Traditionally the main sail is similar to a lateen rig or a crabclaw sail and is attached to a vertical and horizontal spar, the sail differs from a traditional lateen rig in that the vertical spar is parallel to the mast and does not suffer from bad tack. The sail's spar may be as long as the mast, unattached and may appear to be longer than the mast when attached to it. There are no guidelines as to how the main sail is shaped but it may approximate an equilateral triangle. The paraw is also equipped with a foresail or jib and adds to the overall surface area and generated thrust derived from the wind. A variation of the paraw with rectangular sails is the vinta.

The mast, commonly made of bamboo, is secured by lines attached to, among other things, the outriggers, the fore (and sometimes, the aft) and various parts of the boat. Historically, the mast of smaller paraws was a spear or bangkaw and was a useful part of the ship when conducting raids against other seaside villages.

Current uses

The Balatik, a 74 ft (23 m) sailing paraw used by Tao Philippines in Coron, Palawan Balatik, a paraw from the Tao Expedition, Philippines.jpg
The Balatik, a 74 ft (23 m) sailing paraw used by Tao Philippines in Coron, Palawan


In November 2012, a team led by the artisan Gener Paduga, along with the Tao Philippines organization, started building a full-sized paraw sailboat in Palawan. Paduga originally envisioned the project while crewing a sailing yacht from Palawan to Africa. After having witnessed the thriving native sailing traditions in the Indian Ocean, he decided to revive the almost extinct native boat-building and sailing traditions of the Philippines. Sailing ships, which were once used throughout the islands, were in steep decline after engines became widely available in the 1970s. [1] [2]

The team consisted of several traditional boat carpenters from the islands of Cagayancillo and Romblon. The boat was constructed entirely using native techniques and also featured intricate designs by two master carvers of the native Palaw'an people. The boat was completed in March 2014 and was officially named the Balatik, after a traditional Filipino constellation (equivalent to Orion's Belt) named after a hunter's trapping device. It is 74 ft (23 m) long and 9 ft (2.7 m) at the widest point of the hull. [1] [3] [2] It has two masts with four sails and could be crewed by three or four people. The boat is currently used both for tourism and for educational and social welfare projects of the Tao Kalahi Foundation in Palawan. [4]

Paraw Regatta

The Paraw Regatta, largest sailboat race in the Philippines and the oldest in Asia, is held annually since 1973. It is a 36.5 kilometer race held in Arevalo district in Iloilo City.

Paraw sailing Boracay Island

Before Boracay Island became a tourist resort, paraws were used for fishing and transportation of people as well as goods. Paraw sailing these days is a major tourist attraction. Local sailors offer their paraws for island hopping and sunset sailing for a fairly small rental fee.

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sailing rigs</span> Description of the specific ways that a sailing craft is rigged

Sailing rigs describe the arrangement of sailing vessels' rig components, including their spars, rigging, and sails. Examples include a schooner rig, cutter rig, junk rig, etc. Rigs may be broadly categorized as fore-and-aft and square-rigged. They may incorporate a mixture of both categories. Within the fore-and-aft category there is a variety of triangular and quadrilateral sail shapes. Spars or battens may be used to help shape a given kind of sail. Each rig may be described with a sail plan—formally, a drawing of a vessel, viewed from the side.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Outrigger boat</span> Boat with one or more lateral support floats

Outrigger boats are various watercraft featuring one or more lateral support floats known as outriggers, which are fastened to one or both sides of the main hull. They can range from small dugout canoes to large plank-built vessels. Outrigger boats can also vary in their configuration, from the ancestral double-hull configuration (catamarans), to single-outrigger vessels prevalent in the Pacific Islands and Madagascar, to the double-outrigger vessels (trimarans) prevalent in Island Southeast Asia. They are traditionally fitted with Austronesian sails, like the crab claw sails and tanja sails, but in modern times are often fitted with petrol engines.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Proa</span> Type of multihull sailboat

Proas are various types of multi-hull outrigger sailboats of the Austronesian peoples. The terms were used for native Austronesian ships in European records during the Colonial era indiscriminately, and thus can confusingly refer to the double-ended single-outrigger boats of Oceania, the double-outrigger boats of Island Southeast Asia, and sometimes ships with no outriggers or sails at all.

Canoe sailing refers to the practice of fitting an Austronesian outrigger or Western canoe with sails.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Crab claw sail</span> Triangular sail with spars along upper and lower edges used by traditional Austronesians

The crab claw sail is a fore-and-aft triangular sail with spars along upper and lower edges. The crab claw sail was first developed by the Austronesian peoples by at least 2000 BCE. It is used in many traditional Austronesian cultures in Island Southeast Asia, Micronesia, Island Melanesia, Polynesia, and Madagascar. Due to its extraordinary performance and ease of operation, it has also become very popular in modern sport sailing. It is sometimes known as the Oceanic lateen or the Oceanic sprit, even though it is not restricted to Oceania, is neither a lateen sail nor a spritsail, and has an independent older origin.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Vinta</span> Traditional outrigger boat from the Philippine island of Mindanao

The vinta is a traditional outrigger boat from the Philippine island of Mindanao. The boats are made by Sama-Bajau, Tausug and Yakan peoples living in the Sulu Archipelago, Zamboanga peninsula, and southern Mindanao. Vinta are characterized by their colorful rectangular lug sails (bukay) and bifurcated prows and sterns, which resemble the gaping mouth of a crocodile. Vinta are used as fishing vessels, cargo ships, and houseboats. Smaller undecorated versions of the vinta used for fishing are known as tondaan.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Arevalo, Iloilo City</span> District of Iloilo City in Western Visayas, Philippines

Villa de Arevalo, commonly known as simply Villa or Arevalo, is one of the seven districts of Iloilo City in the province of Iloilo, on the island of Panay in Western Visayas, in the Philippines. According to the 2020 census, it has a population of 55,476 people. Arevalo is the westernmost district of Iloilo City and it borders Oton to the west.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Balangay</span> Type of lashed-lug boat

A Balangay, or barangay is a type of lashed-lug boat built by joining planks edge-to-edge using pins, dowels, and fiber lashings. They are found throughout the Philippines and were used largely as trading ships up until the colonial era. The oldest known balangay are the Butuan boats, which have been carbon-dated to 320 AD and were recovered from several sites in Butuan, Agusan del Norte.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Paraw Regatta Festival</span>

The Paraw Regatta Festival or Iloilo Paraw Regatta Festival is an annual festival held every third weekend of February in the Villa de Arevalo district, Iloilo City, Philippines. Its main event is a sailboat race in Iloilo Strait that features the paraw, a Visayan double-outrigger sail boat. It is the oldest traditional craft event in Asia, and the largest sailing event in the Philippines. It is one of Iloilo City's tourism events along with the Dinagyang Festival, Kasadyahan Festival, Chinese New Year festival and La Candelaria Fiesta. The Iloilo Paraw Regatta began as a half-day sailboat race but is now a multi-day, multi-event festival.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sail</span> Fabric or other surface supported by a mast to allow wind propulsion

A sail is a tensile structure—which is made from fabric or other membrane materials—that uses wind power to propel sailing craft, including sailing ships, sailboats, windsurfers, ice boats, and even sail-powered land vehicles. Sails may be made from a combination of woven materials—including canvas or polyester cloth, laminated membranes or bonded filaments—usually in a three- or four-sided shape.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kaep</span> Micronesian sailboat

Kaep is a traditional type of double-ended Proa sailboat native to Palau. Some of the essential design elements have also been adopted as a modern smaller multihull prototype variant.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Karakoa</span> Type of warship from the Philippines

Karakoa were large outrigger warships from the Philippines. They were used by native Filipinos, notably the Kapampangans and the Visayans, during seasonal sea raids. Karakoa were distinct from other traditional Philippine sailing vessels in that they were equipped with platforms for transporting warriors and for fighting at sea. During peacetime, they were also used as trading ships. Large karakoa, which could carry hundreds of rowers and warriors, were known as joangas by the Spanish.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Garay (ship)</span>

Garay were traditional native warships of the Banguingui people in the Philippines. In the 18th and 19th centuries, they were commonly used for piracy by the Banguingui and Iranun people against unarmed trading ships and raids on coastal settlements in the regions surrounding the Sulu Sea.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lepa (ship)</span> Boats of the Southeast Asian Sama-Bajau people

Lepa, also known as lipa or lepa-lepa, are indigenous ships of the Sama-Bajau people in the Philippines and Malaysia. They were traditionally used as houseboats by the seagoing Sama Dilaut. Since most Sama have abandoned exclusive sea-living, modern lepa are instead used as fishing boats and cargo vessels.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bangka (boat)</span> Traditional Filipino watercraft with outriggers

Bangka are various native watercraft of the Philippines. It originally referred to small double-outrigger dugout canoes used in rivers and shallow coastal waters, but since the 18th century, it has expanded to include larger lashed-lug ships, with or without outriggers. Though the term used is the same throughout the Philippines, "bangka" can refer to a very diverse range of boats specific to different regions. Bangka was also spelled as banca, panca, or panga in Spanish. It is also known archaically as sakayan.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bigiw</span>

Bigiw is a small double-outrigger sailboat native to the islands of Mindanao, Visayas, and Palawan in the Philippines. It is used for personal transport or small-scale fishing and can hold one to three people. It is traditionally propelled by sails and steered with a single oar, but is commonly motorized in modern times. It can also be paddled. The sail type used is predominantly triangular crab claw sails, but it can also use spritsails or tanja sails.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Paduwang</span>

Paduwang is a traditional double-outrigger vessel from Madura, Indonesia. It is built with planks instead of single log, and used for fishing, trading and transport of people and goods near Madura island. In the 19th century, Paduwang was a popular fishing craft in East Java.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Djenging</span>

Djenging is a type of large double-outrigger plank boat built by the Sama-Bajau people of the Philippines. It is typically used as a houseboat, though it can be converted to a sailing ship. It was the original type of houseboat used by the Sama-Bajau before it was largely replaced by the lepa after World War II. Larger versions of djenging were also known as balutu or kubu, often elaborately carved with bifurcated extensions on the prow and stern.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Burulan</span>

Burulan is a Visayan term referring to fighting platforms on the traditional large trimaran warships (balangay) of the Philippines. They were made from bamboo and were distinctively raised from the deck. They carried the warrior-nobility of the Visayans and other passengers during travel, naval warfare, and seasonal coastal raids (mangayaw), so as to avoid interfering with the paddlers. This platform can be covered by an awning of woven palm leaves during hot days or when it rains, protecting the crew and cargo.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Austronesian vessels</span>

The Austronesian vessels, are those devised by the Austronesian peoples of Taiwan, Maritime Southeast Asia, Micronesia, coastal New Guinea, Island Melanesia, Polynesia, and Madagascar that speak Austronesian languages. They also include indigenous ethnic minorities in Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Hainan, the Comoros, and the Torres Strait Islands. The vessels have carried trade and migration across long distances in the region. They include monohulls, catamarans, outriggers, and proas. Sail types include a variety of crab-claw and tanja configurations.


  1. 1 2 "About". Palawan Paraw: A Blog Documenting the Construction and Voyages of a Traditional Filipino Sailboat. Retrieved December 5, 2018.
  2. 1 2 Diamond, Isabel (October 23, 2014). "Philippines: Reviving the Lost Art of Sailing in Palawan". The Telegraph. Retrieved December 5, 2018.
  3. Diamond, Isobel (March 26, 2015). "Palawan by Paraw Boat". Travel+Leisure. Archived from the original on December 5, 2018. Retrieved December 5, 2018.
  4. Palawan Paraw: Reviving a Relic of Filipino Culture (PDF). Retrieved December 5, 2018 via