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Siargao From Above

Merr Watson


Behind the Shot

“You show me a photograph of a beach with a bangka boat and I’d know right away it was shot in the Philippines,” boasts Merr. The traditional watercraft of her native Philippines, bangka boats were traditionally small single or double outrigger canoes used in shallow waters and rivers. In its simplest form, the hull of the bangka was made from a single piece of a hollowed-out log with a single outrigger on the windward side. Larger bangka boats featured more complex hulls, a double outrigger, and multiple masts holding sails made from pandan leaves.

Today the hollowed logs have been replaced by fiberglass, and sails by motor engines, but the single- and double-outrigger design remains a staple for island-hopping. Modern bangkas are also more seaworthy, able to transport people and cargo between islands with ease. Bamboo and wood bangkas remain in use today, though, helping ferry locals and island-hopping tourists.

This photograph, taken in the late afternoon on the tiny island of Guyam, about a mile off the southeast coast of General Luna in Siargao, captured the essence of the region. Kerr describes this image as “a wonderland of tropical colors. I always reminisce on the pristine tropical waters and lush green vegetation that is the Philippines. And of course the bangka boat. This beautiful island has all of this, and is the perfect getaway island that keeps me coming back for more.”