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Date Posted: 11/27/09

Making our way to Lapinig Island (November 18, 2009)

By: Arturo Valdez

We left Jagna before 6am for the long trip to Lapinig Island, a good 65 kms away. There were a handful of early walkers at the port to see us off. I sent a text to the Mayor thanking him for his warm and hospitable reception of the Balangay and her crew. I thought that it is important that I should mention here the excerpts of that text:

Good morning Mayor Eksam, we left Jagna Port at 6am bringing with us memories of friendship and warm hospitality of your people. Thanks for your support and faith for the Voyage of the Balangay. Art Valdez/Team Everest-Balangay.

His response:

Don’t mention it Sirs and Madam. It is really our great pride and honor to have u as our new friends with great hearts united wid a common and noble cause. Pls go on wid ur journey-touching d lives of millions more. Jagna-anons are once wid u in spirits, thoughts, and inspirations to give u all d strengths to beat all odds. Mabuhay kayong lahat. Kaya ng Pinoy. Mayor Eksam.

I passed around the text to everyone and we got all energized as we face the hot and sunny day for the long journey to Lapinig Island.

Earlier, we planned to have an overnight stop-over to the town of Anda. But the Coast Guard recommended that it has no port to safely anchor the Balangay for the night, exposing her to the open sea, not the best place in times of bad weather which can come anytime.

We passed long, long stretches of white beaches, coconut trees that leaned to welcome the blue waters that washed its shorelines and the rolling contours of the hills above. I can only marvel how beautiful and fortunate we are to have this country, almost a paradise compared to our 3 years expedition to the extreme chilling-cold and snow capped mountains of the Himalayas.

By 10AM, we were now subjected to the sweltering heat of the sun that by the time we reached Pitogo in Lapinig Island at 2:30PM, I am about to get a heat-stroke. But the giggling and wide-grinning smiles of fisher folk kids with their improvised welcome streamer just wipe away in a flash all the heat and tiredness in my body.

Again, after a short rest and lunch we plunged ourselves in our usual chores-symposium with students at the local gymnasium and a trip to Lapinig Barangay at night to show film clips of our Mt Everest Expedition. At 9:30PM we called it a day.

After surviving 7 typhoons, more than 11weeks of sailing and now looking like our Austronesian forebears, I started to feel the strain of the Voyage. However, it’s the youth, the students and the kids that get us going and motivated to tell our stories of Mt Everest and the Voyage of the Balangay. Our theme is still the same - they can dream; that nothing is impossible if they really work hard and persevere to  make that dream to reality-Kaya ng Pinoy. Iam hopeful that future leaders will emerge from the thousands of kids whose lives we touched and inspired during our brief stop-over.

But I started to feel the effect of the Voyage in my weather-beaten body. Our Austronesian forebears had easier travel. They don’t have big crowds and hectic schedules every time they reached the shorelines.



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