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‘Balangay’ Ends their Asian Voyage after 14 Months

Thirty-nine crews including the first Filipinos that climbed Mt Everest in 2006 aboard the three replicas of ‘Balangay’ boats are welcomed as they dock back from where they started a year ago. It took them almost less to than an hour to reach the shore since these boats are using wind power only. Sailing with them are three other boats rowed by our very own World Champion Dragon boat team.  Media, security, dignitaries and a crowd eagerly wait for them while waving colorful flags. 

These ‘Balangay’ replicas were built using no steel just bamboo, wood and fiber almost the same as how the originals were made way back in the year 320 AD. Led by Art Valdez, he said this voyage aims to retrace the trading routes of the sea gypsies or would have been the first Philippine inhabitants who used these boats while roaming in the Pacific or migrating to this country. The ‘Balangay’ voyage started September 2009 and was able to reach 6 Southeast Asian countries: Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand and Singapore.

Valdez added that these ‘Balangay‘ boats suffered damages due to higher sea waves almost as high as a 2-storey building caused by climate change. These boats followed ancient navigation methods like using only the positions of the sun, stars, winds and clouds. He said this voyage rekindled the maritime consciousness of the youth, not to mention that the Philippines own half of the world’s manpower in maritime business. 

Balangay’, is the oldest know pre-Hispanic watercraft found in the Philippines in 1976 and was first mentioned in the 16th Century in the Chronicles of Pigafetta.  The  ‘Balangay’ crew ate mostly rice, dried fish and banana (saging na saba) for their meals.  Valdez assured everyone that, aside from the cheering of crowd and warm welcome they always get in every port they stop, what matters most is all the 39 crews returned home safely.

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