Butuan Boat

Metal Age

Libertad, Butuan City
320 AD



Prehistoric boats were recovered in Butuan, Agusan del Norte in 1978. There are nine existing prehistoric boats. The first boat dated 320 A.D. is in the site museum in Libertad, Butuan. The second boat dated to 1250 A.D. was transferred to the Pinagmulan Gallery (The Origin), in the 2nd floor of the Museum of the Filipino People in Manila. The third boat dated 990 A.D. is in the Butuan Regional Museum (Agusan del Norte, southern Philippines).

The Butuan boat is an edged- pegged plank type of boat. The planks were made from hard wood like ‘doongon’ (Heriteriera littoralis). Built to withstand long-distance voyages, the boat can seat 25 people. Early merchants purchased goods from foreign traders and sailed the small waterways redistributing the commodities to remote communities in the archipelago. The presence of glass beads and metals in the sites where the boats were discovered shows that Philippine coastal communities were active in Asian maritime trade during that time. Evidence of a flourishing maritime trade placed the early Filipinos’ seamanship and boat- building skill on equal footing with other Asian countries.

The edged-pegged plank style of boat-building was once popular from Scandinavian countries to the South Pacific during the 3rd century. Present- day boat makers of Sibutu Island and in southern Philippines still use the same technology.


This page was last modified Monday, February 10, 2014
National Museum of the Philippines
Padre Burgos Drive, City of Manila, Philippines