Bacolod port call for balangay replica “Diwata”

From:   Philippine Daily Inquirer (Inquirer Visayas)

Date:    October 19, 2009

By: Carla P. Gomez

BACOLOD CITY – A boat sailing on a mission to retrace the journey of ancient Filipinos has reached this city on Wednesday.


The “Diwata ng Lahi (Fairy of the Race)” arrived at the port of the Bacolod Real Estate and Development Co. from Jordan, Guimaras. It was the boat’s 19th stop through five typhoons in six weeks.


The Diwata is a replica of the balangay, believed to be the type of boat that carried some of the first people in the Philippines.


“The voyage of the balangay is a journey into history,” said Arturo Valdez, leader of the Team Balangay which is manning the Diwata.


According to Valdez, the journey traces the routes of Filipino ancestors and hopes to “stir up maritime, or even historical, consciousness among our people.”


Valdez said his team navigated through storms, giant waves, starlit skies and scorching heat since setting out to sea on Sept. 1, when the expedition sailed from Manila to Cavite.


He recalled seeking shelter in Ternate River in Cavite at the height of Typhoon “Labuyo” for four days.


Without warning, a dam in Cavite was opened on Sept. 8 and brought waves that swept the Diwata into open sea, Valdez said.


He said the team was forced to sail at midnight back to Cavite to assess the damage on the boat.


Janet Belarmino-Sardena, team member, said the team has seen the worsening effects of global warming in its journey from Luzon to the Visayas.


Sardena, a member of the successful Filipino Mt. Everest expedition, said telltale signs of climate change were very visible as team members scaled Mt. Everest.


The journey on Diwata validated what they already knew was happening to the environment, said Sardena.


Valdez said major repairs need to be done on the Diwata. The team plans to sail for Silay in four days and proceed to Sagay.


From Negros, the boat would sail for Cebu. The entire journey covers 70 stops and is expected to end in June next year.


Other members of the crew include the first Filipinos ever to reach the peak of Mt. Everest.


The Diwata was built in 44 days, without nails, by native Badjao boat-builders from Tawi-Tawi.