Wrecks- Philippines
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Philippine shipwrecks.

In order to carry out daily trade between thousands of islands in the Philippines, there is a necessity to use a variety of cargo ships and ferries.  The Philippines is a poor and overpopulated country with many families surviving on very little income. However they manage to both survive and smile and act together as a proud nation.  

The passenger ferries carry both people and cargoes but throughout the Philippines they are poorly managed and not efficiently regulated.  Even when they are acquired by the shipping companies they are often past their sell by date or are unsuitable for the sea passages through which they are destined to travel. Most are decaying ferries, made in Japan more than 28 years ago and not designed for operating in the open seas found in the Philippines. Often poorly maintained and with little or no enforcement of safety, they are all a disaster waiting to happen.  The probability of ending up in the water on a ferry trip in the Philippines is so high that the author avoids ferry trips as much as possible, (this advice is also given out to Australian tourists by their Foreign Office). But one cannot avoid ferries if one is to travel around the Philippines.  Bear in mind that the ferries are not safe and passenger drownings are still commonplace, but in fairness their safety record is now starting to improve.  As a precaution against being another statistic the author advises that you carry some sort of personal floatation and strobe light on your Philippine holiday.  

The Philippines has one of the worst records of shipwrecks of any country and certainly the world's worst shipwreck tragedies during peacetime.

Unless fundamental changes are made to enforcement of proper standards of safety and management of the inter island ferries, ship losses including passenger drownings will unfortunately continue.

Sea battles and Wars through the ages have caused many ship losses in the Philippines.  In fact almost as many as have occurred through stress of weather.  The country gets its fair share of Typhoons. Although storms have caused many ships to be lost with great loss of life, the majority of wrecks included in this book are during the Pacific War period of 1942 to 1945.  In 1944 alone more than 800 ships were lost in enemy action.

Manila Galleon Trade

Thirty of the 108 Galleons that were involved with the New World trade were lost or captured. Four were taken by English pirates. More than twenty of the Manila Galleons carrying treasure cargoes to or from Acapulco, Mexico, ended up wrecked within the Philippines.  Some of these have been located but others await discovery.

Early map showing Pacific and the Philippines.  

                                    Silver Dollar from the "New World".

This is the  incoming cargo on the Manila Galleons from Acapulco, Mexico. 

This book, more than any other, gives details of where these treasure ships may be located.  If you are interested in searching for silver "pieces of eight" or are looking for treasure items such as gold or Ming vases then this book is for you.

                                Porcelain Plate from the Pandanan Wrecksite.

Probably made in Vietnam in about 1414.  Recovered from Philippine waters in 1993 by National Museum of the Philippines.  Photo: © Tom Bennett