The Balangay Expedition Team plans to visit communities in Palawan and share their story with the locals after they finish the repair of three balangay boats docked in San Vicente since November 2018.
Arturo “Art” Valdez said on Tuesday that the balangay boats are named Sultan sin Sulu and Lahi ng Maharlika, and the largest, Samang Tawi-Tawi are undergoing repair and maintenance.
Valdez, who is from Negros Occidental spearheaded the first Balangay voyage in 2009 and led the Philippines’ first expedition to Mt. Everest.
“Kapag naayos namin ito, we’ll go around dito sa Palawan, we’d like to go sa different communites, sa mga eskwelahan to share the story, dito sa San Vicente libutin namin. Kapag natapos lang itong mga repair namin then we’ll go around which we did noong 2009 to 2011,” Valdez said.
The helm will be repaired and the superstructure on the upper part will be changed to sustain its rigidness.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has provided Valdez with some abandoned wood with the help of Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
Balangay boats can carry an eight-member crew while the largest balangay, Samang Tawi-Tawi can load ten personnel.
The team planned to traverse the South China Sea back in 2017 but it was delayed and continued in 2018 until they reached San Vicente.
The trip commemorates the travel of Sultan Sulu to China 600 years ago, he said adding that their team informed China when they passed through the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) to Xiamen.
Valdez added that once the major repair will be done, he will talk to the Department of Education (DepEd) and with the local office of Department of Tourism (DOT) to visit the communities particularly in the area of the municipality of San Vicente.
Valdez led the first Balangay voyage in 2009 to go around in Southeast Asia that reached Borneo, Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and returned to thr Philippines in 2011.
The balangay symbolizes the maritime spirit of Filipinos and its relevance must be instilled in the consciousness of Filipinos particularly nowadays, he said.
Balangay was first discovered in Butuan back in 1976 where woods from the body of the boat was discovered.
Using carbon dating, it was proven that it dates back to 320 A.D.
“How come hindi masyadong na-propagate ‘yan at naturo sa consciousness ng mga Pilipino, because we have forgotten that maritime consciousness and the Balangay sailing with its colorful sail remind us that we are a maritime people, we are an archipelago, ang tunay na kayamanan natin ay nasa ating karagatan and we have to go back to that,” Valdez pointed out.
He also said that the purpose of the sailing of Balangay is “to stir the maritime consciousness”.
Valdez quoted Dr. Jose Rizal’s “Only the future Filipinos can rediscover their maritime roots can prosper as a nation”.
He mentioned that it was not in the plan that the balangay boats would end up in San Vicente, but thanked the community that welcomed them.
“The people here are warm, we’ve been welcomed by the people of San Vicente especially the leaders of the community, yong lugar there is a possibility that it can be sustained yong mga balangay, that’s how the story of the boat, may sarili siya, in a certain way, ‘yong mga espiritu ng ating mga ancestors are somewhere in this balangay boat,” he said.
“Gumawa na kami ng bahay-kubo naming dito, as I told you, in the wave of migration, ancestors riding in the balangay where they found a place which is friendly, hospitable, warm and abundant, they stay, I think San Vicente have really warm, hospitable, and abundant so this is where we stay, the balangay will stay, ganon,” he added.