Voyage of the Balangay: Adventure with a purpose

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Carina Dayondon

Love of history and zest for adventure.

These were combined in the “Voyage of the Balangay.” The people behind the successful Mt. Everest expeditions pooled their talents together to help link today’s Filipinos with the country’s pre-colonial past.

According to John Ray Ramos, a historian, the balangay was a seagoing vessel used by our ancestors.

“Basically, the balangay was a family’s home back then,” he explained. “Today, the word barangay is derived from the ancient balangay. In pre-colonial times, the balangay was the basis of the community. Then the word evolved to denote the clan. Today, the word is now used as the smallest political division for local governance in a community.”

Carina Dayondon said the Voyage of the Balangay took two years to complete.

“During each stopover, we held seminars in schools to share the historical importance of the balangay,” she told the Philippines Graphic. “We shared the balangay’s ancient tale with elementary and high school students. We reminded them that we must be proud of our past. We showed them that we already had a civilization even before the arrival of the Spaniards. Sharing our country’s history with these kids was an inspiring experience.”

The design of the balangay used in the voyage was based on the Butuan Boat, nine specimens of which were discovered in 1976 in Butuan City, Mindanao. Carbon dating of samples coming from three of the excavated specimens showed that they dated between 320 AD to 1250 AD.

The core crew of the Voyage of the Balangay was composed of Arturo Valdez, Leo Oracion, Erwin Emaa, Janet Belarmino, Carina Dayondon, Noelle Wenceslao, Dr.Ted Esquerra, Fred Jamili, Voltaire Velasco, Mark Lim and Lito Esperar. Supporting them were Imbrahim Abdulla, Jubail Muyong, Abdul Gamar Abdulla, Surkrie Jauhal and Junior Mura; a team from the Philippine Coast Guard, namely Reynaldo G. Godoy, Nelson D. Ojano and Jan Paul Rodriguez; and another team from the Philippine Navy, namely Ronel Santelices, Michael Loyola, Peter Punongbayan and Jovito Benosa III.

Carina said they steered by sun and the stars and used the wind for propulsion, staying faithfully as close as possible to the techniques used by ancient mariners.

“There were times when we had to seek shelter on an island because we had to repair a broken mast,” she recalled.



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