Thursday, January 21, 2010

Balangay update: Two balangays embark on historic voyage beyond Philippine seas

The year 2010 will prove to be a milestone for the country’s maritime tradition as a second Butuan balangay is set to accompany the Diwata ng Lahi in completing the voyage’s Mindanao leg. Then the two balangays will set sail around Southeast Asia, visiting countries with large Filipino communities such as Malaysia, Singapore, and Taiwan.

Led by the Kaya ng Pinoy Foundation (KPF) and the First Philippine Mount Everest Expedition, the Voyage of the Balangay traces traditional maritime routes during the pre-colonial period. The Butuan balangay is an ancient sea vessel used for transportation, trading, and even warfare.

Awesome vessel

Described as awesome by Voyage of the Balangay leader and KPF Art Valdez, the second Butuan boat is a culmination of lessons learned from the three-month expedition that conquered seven storms. Longer by 15 feet (four meters) than the Diwata, the new Butuan boat is 80 feet (24 meters) in length and is strengthened by closer rib distancing.

Premium tropical hardwoods like the dungon, tanguile, bagtikan, molave, and yakal were used to construct the second replica. Historically, these were the timber of choice for balangays as well as for Spanish galleons. In fact, ancient balangay relics revealed that dungon and molave were among its original building materials.

En route to Asia

Now docked on its sixth pit stop, the Butuan port, the newly-repaired Diwata and the second balangay will be on water by the end of January. The second Butuan boat will formally depart by the first week of February, joining Diwata in the remaining ports of Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga City, Zamboanga del Sur, Cotabato City, Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato, General Santos City, Davao del Sur, Davao City, Sarangani Island, and Tawi-Tawi. The last stop will be at Sibuto, Tawi-tawi.

“After traversing Philippine waters, we have set our horizon to travelling around Southeast Asia, especially in countries where we can visit a lot of Filipinos,” said Valdez.

Second balangay set to sail Asia. High hopes and spirits mark the launch of the Butuan boat, which will accompany Diwata ng Lahi as it finishes its Philippine voyage before embarking on international waters. Originally excavated in Butuan, the balangay is an ancient marine vessel used for transportation, trading, and warfare.

Photo credit: Kaya ng Pinoy Foundation, Agatep


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