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PIA Press Release

Re-creating Balanghai in Butuan

by Jocelyn E. Morano

Butuan City (June 15) -- Balanghai Circumnavigation Team is planning to build Balanghai 2, here in Butuan City. This is the latest development announced by former DOTC Undersecretary Art Valdez who made commitment to successfully complete the Balanghai using ancient construction methods that can now be seen at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) grounds.

Butuan Historical and Cultural Foundation and Butuan Global Forum will have a great role in raising funds for the realization of the project and of giving opportunity to those living this city to see Balanghai and be part of another important event in the history of tracing back the pre-Hispanic times of sea travel.

The historical wooden boat will be replicated here in Butuan and the process has started by getting an approval from DENR Caraga to obtain materials like the Dungon which will be sourced locally, the same kind of wood used by the team of Balanghai Project Manager Judail Muyong in building Balanghai 1.

Valdez and the group of people from Tawi-tawi, the home of the Badjaos' Master Builder who created the Balanghai will be coming over to Butuan to start the construction anytime in July 2009.

The Badjaos from the Island of Sibutu are the last community in the Philippines who knows how to build Balanghai using ancient method.

Initial talks are underway to negotiate PPA to use their area in the construction of Balanghai 2.

Instead of earlier announcement that Balanghai 1 will set sail on June 24, Voyage Balanghai will have its maiden voyage on June 27 following the cycle of the New Moon.

Balanghai Circumnavigation Team led by Valdez will have a 20-man team which will compose the Philippine's Mount Everest team with tourism officials and scientists namely, Leo Oracio, Ervin Pastor Ermita, Noel Winceslao, Karina Dayondon, Janet Belarmino-Sardina, Dr. Ted Esguerra, Fred Jamili and Dr. Walter Villasco, 6 Badjaos who will help in navigating Balanghai, 4 from the Special Operations Group of the Philippine Navy, and hopefully, 2 from Butuan.

The Philippine Coast Guard provided a ship to escort Voyage Balanghai on its journey to show their support.

Voyage Balanghai now included Butuan City as part of its stop over in the 7-leg journey around Philippine waters. It will stay in Butuan for 5 days before proceeding to travel towards Cagayan de Oro City and if luck would have it, Balanghai 2 built in Butuan will now join Voyage Balanghai in circumnavigating the world.

If Balanghai 2 will not yet be finished by the time Voyage Balanghai arrives in Butuan, it will catch up in a much later date.

Meanwhile, local historian Greg Hontiveros will join the Balanghai Circumnavigation Team in one of its leg of the Voyage Balanghai to write a book about the Balanghai: "The Maritime Heritage of Southeast Asia."

Mr. Hontiveros is the author of "Butuan of a Thousand Years" where he wrote:

"In July 1976, antique hunters hit on the remains of a large wooden boat in sitio Ambangan of barangay Libertad, a couple of kilometers south of Suatan. This discovery was unprecedented in Asia: the balanghai boat relics were the eastern equivalent to the Viking boat discoveries in Northern Europe."

In 1987, President Corazon Aquino declared Balanghai as a national treasure. (dxBN-Radyo ng Bayan Butuan/PIA-Caraga) [top]

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