30 Days of Summer: Bangka

3:29 PM

My earliest memory of a bangka was during a summer holiday when I was five. My family and our friends wanted to get to the then unknown stretch of white sand of Puerto Galera and we had to hop on a bangka to get there. The crossing felt like it went on an entire afternoon when it reality, it must have lasted just an hour or so.

That’s the thing about living in an archipelago. More often than not, we have to get on a bangka to reach our most gorgeous beaches. Sometimes, I am thankful for the seeming pause – when the landscape hardly changes for hours on end. But more often than not, the heat and humidity get to me and I give in to sleep and enjoy a real pause to my day.  

The bangka is ubiquitous in our islands.  As a country, it is our mode of transportation of choice. It carries everything – people, food, farm animals, from one island to another which makes day-to-day business possible. Don’t let this flimsy-looking boat fool you. Mostly made out of wood, it is quite sturdy even on rough seas. This is mainly thanks to the katig, the bamboo braces on each side, as they keep the bangka from capsizing.

The last time I travelled via bangka was two years ago when my friends and I backpacked across Bicol. We were heading from Sabang to Caramoan and the only way to get there was to hop on a bangka.  Here are a few snapshots from that leg and they’re telling me that perhaps, I should board a bangka pretty soon.  

Catching up on my summer reading while waiting at Sabang port for our bangka.  
There are places where there's no proper pier so passengers board from the shore. 
Bangkas don't have walls to protect us from the elements. When it rains, a sheet of plastic is unfurled.
Had to wrap my kroma around my head to keep the strands of hair from flying all over the place. 
One of the boatmen sits on the "aisle" of the boat. 
The katig, that piece of bamboo, keeps the bangka from capsizing. 

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