The Old Biray in Pandan, Caoayan:
An underwater cultural heritage assessment

Dublin Core


The Old Biray in Pandan, Caoayan:
An underwater cultural heritage assessment


Session 12
Some Challenges and Issues in Underwater Cultural Heritage in Southeast Asia


This paper presents the preliminary assessment arising out of a survey of Pandan Site (NM Site Code I-2011-I1) , a maritime site featuring an abandoned traditional Biray vessel located along the Mestizo River in Caoayan, Ilocos Sur, Northwest Luzon. The site position is perpendicular to the West Philippine Sea (formerly South China Sea) and lies under an abandoned Abra Delta. It is considered as an inland and coastal boat. The structural remains of the vessel have a length of 18 meters (m) and a width of 5m. It is visible during low tide and is characterized by flat hull with ribs, pointed bow and stern. Initial investigation did not observe any evidence of a keel. Based on local oral histories, the boat may be between 80 to 150 years old.

The role of this traditional vessel is re-examined in the Northern Luzon trade network extending as far south as Manila to as far North as the Babuyan Channel. An integral part of this research is the re-evaluation of Biray and its cargo that traces old Biray trading routes. The paper also covers “historical data” on structure and construction of the boat that can come in handy for future maritime excavation of the vessel.

The context, environment and condition of the site are also described. Moreover, it identifies the significance and vulnerability of the site. This concludes with an evaluation of the vessel and the position of the site as regards to underwater cultural heritage (UCH).


Eliza Agabin
Michael Armand P. Canilao
Pamela Grace Faylona


November 2011



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