The Ayala Museum’s collection of finely crafted ship models is a tribute to the boats of yore that were used for everything from warfare to transport and dwelling. This selection includes the local skiffs as well as foreign ships that dropped anchor at Philippine shores. These boats were handcrafted out of baticulin, laniti, and apitong wood, and adorned with cloth, string, buntal fiber, bamboo, and bronze.
Between 6000 and 500 BC, the development of more sophisticated tools allowed for the progress in boat making. Sailboats began to look different – the side extended upwards and sideways with planking, creating bigger hull and more space for travelers and cargo.
The Chinese junk can be used for fishing, trading, and combat. Being flat-bottomed, it can run aground without damage. It is characterized by five-staged masts, splayed like the sticks of a half-open fan.
The ornate baghla is a trading vessel carrying spices and ivory from the Persian Gulf ports. Its lateen sail, long stern, and sharp bow are well-suited to sailing Mediterranean waters.
Built in China, the lorcha has a hull similar to those found on European ships, but is rigged like a Chinese junk with three masts and a batten sail. The ship’s original purpose was to help stamp out piracy in the China Sea, but it was later used for smuggling. It eventually came into use as a trading vessel.
From 1565 to 1815, galleons laden with treasure shuttled across the Pacific between Manila and Acapulco. These galleons varied in size but all carried the distinctive half-moon silhouette, with high forecastles and poops. Framed for resisting monsoons and pirates’ attacks, galleons were called the “strong castles of the sea.”
In the 16th century, after the Treaty of Tordesillas finalized the division of the world into two halves “like an orange” between Portugal and Spain, the countries’ respective rulers sent their sailors out to commandeer as much land as they could. Under royal decree, both Portuguese and Spanish would-be conquerors set out upon the oceans in caravels, which were built expressly for long voyages. Ferdinand Magellan himself journeyed across the Pacific in a caravel. The caravel was characterized by broad bow, a high narrow poop, and two or three masts with a triangular lateen sail.