http://globalnation .inquirer. net/news/ breakingnews/ view/20091217- 242548/Balangay- A-journey- to-history

Balangay: A journey to history

By Izah Morales
First Posted 18:02:00 12/17/2009
MANILA, Philippines -- After braving eight typhoons, sailing for more than 100 days, and traveling 894 nautical miles (from Manila Bay to Butuan City), the Balangay Voyage team proved that yes, the Filipinos can.
“We're here to show the spirit na Kaya ng Pinoy,” said Art Valdez, Kaya ng Pinoy founder and First Philippine Mount Everest Expedition team leader.
“The voyage is really a journey to history. Children need to be educated about our glorious history. If you look back, there's so much that we can be proud of ourselves. And that's the most important for the young, where they can anchor themselves. It develops confidence,” added Valdez .
The team, which has sailed Luzon and the Visayas, sets to complete its journey in Mindanao by March 15, 2010 together with another balangay from Butuan.
Valdez, along with the Philippine Everest Team core crew, Leo Oracion, Erwin Pastour Emata, Noelle Wenceslao, Carina Dayondon, Janet Belarmino-Sardena, Dr. Ted Esguerra, Fred Jamili, and Dr. Voltaire Velasco set sail the Balangay, named “Diwata ng Lahi” last June 27.
The Balangay is an ancient vessel used by Austronesians, believed to be of Filipino ancestry, in trading and migration before the Spaniards.
On December 6, the "Diwata ng Lahi" reached Butuan City , where it is currently docked for repair after marine borers from Manila Bay infested the boat's planks.
“Despite being faithful to how it was built by ancestors, modern times proved that it can't survived due to the pollution in Manila Bay,” said Valdez.
The Balangay was made of apitong wood and was untreated to replicate the old boat.
“Magalaw talaga ang sailing sa balangay but it will bring you safely to port,” described Valdez .
Another Balangay
On Jan. 15, 2010, the Diwata ng Lahi will be joined by the Butuan Balangay in sailing to 38 more ports to cover 2,136 nautical miles of Philippine waters.
The second balangay, construction of which is expected to be completed by yearend, is 15 feet longer and can accommodate a larger contingent than the Diwata that can accommodate up to 18 crew members.
“It would really be a challenge since we need to look after each other. This time, we need a radio for communication and management of the two boats,” said Valdez .
The 6th leg will start in Butuan City port, where the original balangay was excavated, and will end at Ozamis, Misamis Occidental.
Other ports to be visited are Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga City , Zamboanga del Sur, Cotaboti City , Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato, General Santos City , Davao del Sur, Davao City , Sarangani Island , and Tawi-Tawi.
“The challenge would be the route from Davao to Bongao, Tawi-Tawi without seeing an island for 10 days up to two weeks. There would be no island stopover,” said Valdez .
According to Valdez , they have coordinated with the Philippine Navy for security assistance in Mindanao .
Nature's wrath in 2009
Sailing against strong winds and waves challenged the team as they encountered eight typhoons -- from Labuyo to Vinta.
Valdez disclosed that their patience was really tested by nature as delays in the schedule were encountered due to the bad weather.
“Nature is really the best teacher as patience is concerned,” said Valdez .
“Among the typhoons,it was Labuyo that left a big impact on us. We were hit at Ternate, Cavite and washed back to Manila Bay ,” recalled Valdez .
During tropical storm Ondoy last September, the Balangay was docked at Looc, Romblon, where they conducted disaster management training among the locals.
Esguerra said they held symposiums on global warming and climate change in all the 41 ports that they visited. The team also planted mangroves and released sea turtles in support of ecotourism efforts within the areas.
“Good governance will start when leaders immerse with the children,” said Esguerra.
“The people in every port warmly welcomed us. Nakakawala ng pagod lalo na when you [You lose your fatigue, especially when you] see the kids in the shoreline waiting for you,” added Valdez .
Valdez also hopes that their expedition will stir up maritime consciousness and help boost the tourism industry in the country.
“We're in a paradise. Our country is so beautiful. Through the pictures that we have in our website, we wanted to show beauty of the Philippines ,” said Valdez .
Conquering Southeast Asia
The KPF is setting its sails towards Southeast Asian countries as soon as it finishes its journey around the Philippines .
Visits to Sabah Malaysia , Brunei , Kalimantan , Indonesia , Singapore , Malaysia Peninsular, Thailand , Cambodia , Vietnam , China , and Taiwan are on the horizin.
“We're expecting to sail for four months. We won't be having a lot of port stops unlike here in our country. We'll stop in ports where there are a lot of Filipinos like in Singapore ,” said Valdez .