Philippine Everest Team: From scaling heights may now cross oceans

From: The Butuan Star

Date: January 30, 2009

By: Noel B. Najarro

After conquering the worlds highest peak, not once but twice, when an all- Filipino team successfully climb Mt. Everest, followed by an all~ female team doing the same successful fate making it to the "Guinness Book of World Records," the Philippine Everest Team is now ready to take up the challenges of crossing the open oceans.

Now, the team will be doing it not on modern crafts with its sophisticated highly , but on village boats patterned and built after the centuries old "Balanghais" otherwise known as the "Butuan Boat" navigated by using the methods employed by the earliest mariners.


This was announced by former DOTC Undersecretary Arturo Valdez in a press conference 2:00 P.M. this afternoon at the La Cafeza Restaurant at J.e. Aquino Ave., this city. Usec. Valdez was the expedition leader of the Philippine Mt. Everest Expedition 2003-2008 and he will be acting as the Captain of the Voyage of the Balangay 2009-2013. With Usee. Valdez in the same press forum ~e Butuan City Vice-Mayor Dino Claudio Sanchez, Mr. Cesar Gomez (a technical officer of the voyage staff) Mr. Greg Hontiveros, Chairman, Butuan. Historical Foundation and Ms. Ayeth Gono, Butuan City Tourism Officer.

Valdez said during the forum that this voyage which will be taken with the Everest Team as its core will be reminiscent of the voyage done thousands of years ago, when the ancestors of the Filipino people, the Austronesians, traveled· from the Asian mainland by land bridges across the continental shelf to the South East Asian archipelago. They then sailed onward to as far East as Polynesia, and as far West as Magadascar, aboard the ancient vessel: the Balangay.

Through The Kaya Ng Pinoy Inc., an exciting, new undertaking will be launched that will retrace the migration of our ancestors across the oceans using only the native Balangay, built faithful to the craftsmanship and materials used during the ancient times. Navigation will also remain accurate to the method that was used by the earliest mariners steering by the sun, the stars, the wind, cloud formations, wave patterns and bird migrations.


Valdez also mentioned during the said forum that the materials donated by the DENR are now ready for transport by the Philippine Navy to the Manila Reclamation Area. . He said that the authentic Balangay will be crafted by master boat builders from the Island of Sibuto and Sitangkay in Tawi-Tawi, whose skills had been handed down through generations. They will be employing the same boat building technique and method of construction as the Balangay of the 4th, 13th and 14th  century A.D. plank built, lash lug, edge pegged and shell-first construction. He also said that this will not only showcase3 the capability of the Filipino boat builders but woul also be a way of instilling and propagating the idea among present Filipinos, particularly the youth, that Filipinos have been world-class boat builders even before the coming of the Western colonizers.

The construction according to him will be done at the Reclamation Area in Manila, and it will be in an informative and interactive boat building showroom. A viewing deck will be constructed so that the students and the public will have a chance to actually see the progress of the construction of the boat.

There will also be an active participation by a pool of experts and the academe to ensure an in depth understanding of the technical and historical aspects of the endeavor, as well as a thorough appreciation of the significance of the undertaking to our identity as a people.


These are the maps marking the route based on the projected timetable: 2009 - The Philippines; 2010 Southeast Asia; 2011 Micronesia and Madagascar; 2012 - Sail across the Pacific onward to Atlantic, all the way around the world then on 2013 - Back home to the Philippines.

The core of the crew will be the Philippine Everest Team: Leo Oracion, Erwin "Pastour" Emata, Noelle Wenceslao, Carina Dayondon, Janet BelarminoSardena, Dr. Ted Esguerra, Fred Jamili and Dr. Voltaire Velasco. The rest of the crew will be composed of master sailors, academics and scientists whose selection will be based on three C"s: capability to accomplish the task at hand, commitment to the team and its undertaking and compatibility with the team"s core values.

According to Valdez, it’s time to honor the Filipino pioneering spirit, which was established during their ascent of Mt. Everest, and this next epic voyage will be another chance to inspire our countrymen and fellow Malays to believe in ourselves and in our oneness again.

He also said that the Balangay will become the catalyst to stir up historical consciousness among Filipinos today in transporting our people to our cherished goals.