Balangay docks at Mahinog on epic voyage round Philippine seas and Southeast Asia
by Homer R. Jajalla
Mahinog, Camiguin (11 February) -- Mahinognons have witnessed recently the historic voyage of the replica of the two (2) ancient boats "balangay" named "Diwata ng Lahi" and "Masawa hong Butuan" which arrived at Benoni port here as part of her 6th leg of continuous journey around Philippine seas.
Also named Butuan Boat, the "balangay" was first mentioned in the 16th Century in the Chronicles of Pigafetta, and is known as the oldest Pre-Hispanic watercraft found in the Philippines.
Remnants of around eight (8) ancient balangay boats were excavated in 1978 in Butuan City and Agusan Del Norte. The oldest boat that was dug was carbon-dated at 320 AD, a proof of evidence of pre-Hispanic Filipino civilization.
In 1987 Former President Corazon Aquino issued Proclamation 86 which declared the Balangay boat as national cultural treasures and the site where they were discovered as archaeological site.
The boats left Butuan City for the second phase of its voyage on Wednesday, Feb. 4, passing Gingoog City and Balingoan port in Misamis Oriental before they arrived in Benoni port on Feb. 7 at past 12:00 noon.
From Mahinog, the boats will dock in Cagayan de Oro City. After Cagayan they will pass Initao town port in Iligan City, and the cities of Ozamis and Oroquieta in Misamis Occidental.
Before sailing to Cagayan de Oro, the balangay will pass by at Mantigue island, also part of Mahinog in Camiguin.
The 20-man sailing team is composed of members of the successful first Philippine Mt. Everest Expedition, namely, Leo Oracion, Erwin "Pastour" Emata, Noelle Wenceslao, Carina Dayondon, Janet Belarmino-Sardina, the Philippine Navy, the Philippine Coast Guard, and some Badjaos who built the balangay.
The team navigated on the same method that was used by the earliest mariners? steering by the sun, the stars, the wind, cloud formations, wave patterns and bird migrations.
They would only sail during the day and dock on various ports or islands that they will pass by during the night.
Once the Mindanao adventure is completed in March, the next phase of the voyage will be throughout Southeast Asia. The expedition is set to last until 2013.
Mahinog local officials led by Vice Mayor Rogerio C. Acle welcomed the team upon arrival at Benoni port.
Mayor Alex R. Jajalla said Mahinognons took pride to be part of the itineraries of this ambitious balangay epic voyage.
"We are very proud that you choose Mahinog to be part of your epic voyage and this is history in the making for our town," Jajalla told the team when they paid a courtesy call at his office.
Taking the team's "Kaya ng Pinoy (The Filipino can do it)" slogan to heart, the project aims to reawaken the Filipino's sense of patriotism and pride in its rich culture, says project coordinator Art Valdez of Kaya Ng Pinoy Foundation.
"Our inspiration is that Filipinos can do anything," says Valdez.
"Just like Mount Everest, the Voyage of the Balangay is a way of triggering faith in ourselves if only we recognize the richness of our heritage, the skills that we have and the kind of fortune that we live in an island that's almost like paradise. Then we may finally value and try to preserve this," says Valdez in an earlier press statement.
"Filipinos could have done so much if they put focus on themselves as a people and bring it to move forward," he adds, "but since we are also a little bit confused exactly where we are going, it's better to look back into the past to anchor ourselves to something we can really be proud of." (Mahinog Information Office) [top]