Asia Philippines

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: 
I’m sharing this blog post with Tuesday Travels and Thursday Brownies 🙂
Note: Photo below is courtesy of my friend, Nervic Baquial.

The Balangay, Masawa Hong Butuan, while docked in Butuan City.

17 thoughts on “Riding the Balangay in Butuan”

  1. great photo, Lors! re your question, my brother just paid 30THB to have a very short ride.. just for the photos. hehe. cge laag ta sunod didto. thanks for the visit!

  2. beautiful river of Butuan, am sure the ride is fun and enjoying the sight seeing too 🙂
    Visiting from Tuesday Travels, hope that you can return the visit too.

  3. sounds like a fun adventure, and something i’m up for trying 😉 are there life vests available on Balanghai? hehe!
    visiting you back for TT!
    hope to see you more around 😉

  4. that’s good that there are life vests. the boat i rode on when i went to Caramoan did not have any life vests. it was a small boat good for about 10 people max, and the waves were big at the time. at one point, i thought it would tip over. sobrang nag sigawan kami, and held on for dear life. lol.

  5. Never tried one like that. Anyway, where i live in the Philippines we are more than 1 hour going to Butuan City. I worked in Butuan before and also my aunt got married from Butuan. Visiting from TT!

  6. that looks fun Sis, never try riding on it 🙂 Visiting from Thursday Brownies, hope that you can return the visit too.

  7. Interesting! Really! I’ve only read this in history books. I should try this too someday! 🙂
    Visiting for last week’s TT. Thanks for joining. Please join again this week!

  8. lucky you to have experienced that! is that the original design or has that been modified? 🙂
    thanks much for visiting!

  9. Pingback: One Afternoon at the Butuan Museum » Steps on Air
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