Riding the Balangay in Butuan
I used to read about it in history books.
Finally, last year I had the chance to ride a replica of the centuries-old Balanghai or Balangay, also called the Butuan boat. Thanks to a group of fellow Filipinos who had conquered Mt. Everest who made this possible. They had wanted to “retrace the migration of our ancestors across the oceans using only the native Balangay” . And so they set to work on this dream, enlisting the skill of Badjao boat makers who are said to be the best boat makers in the Philippines. With skills and craftmanship seemingly passed down through the generations, the Badjaos made the Balangay boats without any blueprint and yes, without nails!
The dream to sail on the Balangay became a reality in 2009 for our brave group of mountaineers now turned seafarers together with Badjao sailors and volunteers. They first traversed the waters leading to different parts of the Philippines. The first two Balangay boats used were ‘Diwata ng Lahi” and ‘Masawa Hong Butuan’. As of 2010, the team has used three Balangay boats to sail to six Southeast Asian nations! Do take note that the Balangay makes use of sails and wind to power it.
Why is the Balangay also called the Butuan boat? Nine specimens of the old Balangay were first found in Butuan City, Agusan del Norte in Mindanao in 1976. These were found to be built as early as 320, 990 and 1250 AD. I found it quite historic then, setting foot on one of the Balangay boats (Masawa Hong Butuan) while it was docked in Butuan City. Together with some friends, we were able to sail along the Agusan river on board Masawa which to my pleasant surprise shares my birthday 🙂
For more interesting facts about the Balangay, its voyage and history, do visit: http://www.balangay-voyage.com/index.php
I’m sharing this blog post with Tuesday Travels and Thursday Brownies 🙂
Note: Photo below is courtesy of my friend, Nervic Baquial.