Introduction

Mindanao is the second largest major island (based on surface area) in the Philippines. It located in the southernmost end of the archipelago. Mindanao is punctuated by five major peninsulas and five major mountian ranges, some volcanic in origin. It has an abundance of mineral resources such as iron, nickle, cooper, silver, gold, coal and limestone. It also the source of major agricultural resources in the Philippines like pineapple, corn, coffee, copra, cocoa and abaca (hemp).The bodies of water surrounding the island of Mindanao is likewise has a rich variety of fish, shellfish and corals.

Mindao is neighboring the countries of of Malaysia and Indonesia. Its proximity to these two countries explains the very early migration of people between the countries.

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    Sailing the Sulu Seas

The vinta, together with pearl divers, and the Badjao boat dwellers, form the romance of the Sulu seas. The vinta's colorful sail decorates many a picture of southern Philippine sunsets beckoning the adventurous at heart to the joys and wonder of riding big waves.

Actually, the vinta is not safe for long ocean travel. It is a very small and unsteady sailboat, used only for short trips on days with normal breezes. Vinta is how the sailboat is called by the maritime people of the Sulu archipelago. Some say it may be a name coined by the Spaniards.

The boat is more commonly known as lepa-lepa or sakayan. The bigger boats used got crossing high seas are the kumpit and sahpit or the Indonesian parao. The sahpit is used as a large houseboat or for transportating cargo. The kumpit is notoriuous as the official carrier of sumgglers in the south and is said to outpace Navy patrol boats because of its powered engine. Except for small fishing boats, most boats in the high seas of Sulu have motors. The parao is fitted with an inboard Volvo engine and is widely known now as "volvo". Vintas with very colorful sails still abound along some seashores, especially of seaside resorts, for tourists who want a bit of romance and adventure. Zamboanga hosts a vinta regatta each year. A fleet of vintas crosses the close to 23 kilometer wide Basilan Strait. Watching the regatta can be a romantic adventure in itself.

Source: Filway's Philippine Almanac
Images from Traveler's Companion: Philippines

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