The Colorful Vintas of Zamboanga
Vintas are traditional boats originating from the southern island called Mindanao in the Philippines. The Bajau and Moros of Sulu and Zamboanga created these boats. They are also called lepa-lepa or sakayan and were used since ancient times to transport people and goods to and from different islands. In those times the Bajaus and people from Basilan and Tawi-tawi used these boats as their homes. It was said that they seldom went to land except for the task of burying their dead. This is also why they became known as great swimmers and people with great knowledge of the sea and oceans. The Vintas are also used in regattas. Regattas are a series of races between rowboats such as the vintas.
They were made from dug-out canoes and installed with double outriggers. But the most remarkable traits of these boats are the colorful patterns of its sails. Although each boat has a variety of colors, every one of them follows a certain vertical pattern. Each color is separated from the other in a vertical fashion. The colors used in every line represent the culture and the past of the Muslims. It is because of these vessels that Zamboanga is famous for.
Originally, Vinta was the term used for a Moro dance. This was a celebration reminiscing the time when Filipinos migrated to the archipelago. The dance was performed with moves imitating the movements of the boats. The dancers would do this by standing on top of poles and balancing themselves as though they were Vintas sailing in the Ocean.
The Vinta basically signifies the general evolution of Sulu towards development. It is the island’s symbol as the maneuvering of the craft requires careful steering because of stormy waters. The people of Sulu were believed to have used these boats in the past in search of their promised land. They believed that this land was given to them as inheritance from their forefathers.
Vinta represents a lot to the people and it has many uses in terms of tourism and foreign attraction. It has become a great icon for Filipinos and some institutions in the Philippines. The PAREF schools, for example has used the Vinta as a symbol to their buildings. In other places such as the picturesque Paseo del Mar the Vintas are used as one of their additional attractions. It was the Department of Tourism with the support of the City Government which has recently launched the “Vinta Sailing at Paseo”. This official launching is one of the country’s efforts to promote the culture of Zamboanga City. In this effort the colorful vintas are used both to attract tourists and also to create programs that will preserve the culture.
With a low price of P50, visitors can now enjoy a 30-minute tour around the Paseo del Mar riding the vintas. This is available every Saturday and Sunday with at least 5 boats ready to for a tourist to ride on. Tourists can also observe regattas during the Fiesta Pilar.
The Vinta is a representation of Zamboanga’s history and culture. But it is also one of the symbols that represent the Philippines as it signifies migration and the colorful traditions of the country.