Balangay Voyage and Team a Historical Fraud?

It all started when a certain Vicente Calibo de Jesus posted an album “Balanghai” complete with pictures and scanned manuscripts on his  Facebook wall months ago about the Balangay voyage and team of former Usec. Art Valdez is not authentic citing that it should be correctly spelled as “balanghai”. He said the boat replicas are hoax since it doesn’t have outriggers (katig in local term) and it should be called “balanggay” instead.  It is the same as the email reply he got from Ray Howgego, author of the Encyclopedia of Exploration and one of the world’s leading historian, as the correct pronunciation of the word “balanghai” written by Antonio Pigafetta.

Pigafetta is part of Magellan’s voyage of circumnavigating the globe and  one of the few survivors who were able to return home. He related his experiences and wrote Relazione del Primo Viaggio Intorno al Mondo (Report on the First Voyage Around the World) in Italian. This post sparked a very intriguing discussion whom Graciano Mayoralgo, one of those who commented on his album also emailed Howgego to clarify everything. Howgego confirmed that his reply to de Jesus refers merely to the rules of correct pronunciation. His reply said, “The final ‘ai’ is a dipthong pronounced as i, as in ‘cry’. The ‘gh’ is pronounced g, as in ‘get’ or ‘go’. In Italian, if the letter g precedes e, i or a dipthong like ai, it is pronounced j, as in ‘jet’. However, ‘gh’ is always pronounced as g, as in ‘get’. Pigafetta clearly used ‘gh’ rather than ‘g’ to ensure that it would not be pronounced as ‘j’.”

Howgego also mentioned “in the only transcription I could find of the original Relazione del primo viaggio he uses ‘Balangai’ at least six times and only once spells it Balanghai (by accident?) in his supplementary vocabulary of native words subtitled ‘Vocaboli di questi popoli mori’”. De Jesus claims indirectly that “he has taken the necessary step of reading the canon of Magellan historiography” in the album exchange of comments and said  that he has four extant manuscript as sources (the Italian Ambrosiana, the French Manuscript 5650, and Nancy-Libri-Phillipps-Beinecke-Yale codex).

When ancient wooden boats were accidentally dug in Butuan, Philippines in 1976, William Henry Scott, an American historiographer who was based locally then was asked by the Philippine’s National Museum to do a research about this. In his “Barangay: sixteenth-century Philippine culture and society” writing, aside from discovering another version of the word, the “barangay” which is used to describe the smallest political unit of Tagalog society he also mentioned about the orthography (art of spelling) conflicts as Spanish and Filipino alphabet are different. He said “I have re-spelled them in accordance with normal Philippine usage… Thus I have changed c and qu to k as appropriate…  and i with y before or after vowels.”

According to Balangay Voyage team’s official Facebook Fan Page“Team Everest consulted the officials of our Philippine National Museum on all the historical, cultural and technical details that should be considered in building the balangay replica. The balangay replicas that crossed the wide open seas of Southeast Asia are the successful results of this harmonious collaboration among Team Balangay, the National Museum, the academic community and the maritime industrywho together agreed on the design and name of the balangay boats.”

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