Balangay landed in Silay

From:   Sun Star Bacolod

Date:    October 19, 2009

By:       Ver F. Pacete

Like “maharlikas” (nobles), the city officials of Silay were there at the shoreline of Brgy. Balaring to give a sweet welcome to Balangay “Diwata ng Lahi.”


Vice Mayor Mark Golez (representing Mayor Oti Montelibano) was standing like a “lakan” (chieftain).  With him was Councilor Mike Maravilla, Susan Velez, Ver Pacete, Solo Locsin, Gerle Sulmaca, Jake Opus, Panoy Corteza, Maymay Salmingo, Saturnina Sazon, Romulo Guillergan and the full force from Tourism-Community Affairs Office.


The Balangay appeared majestically like a princess from the ruins of Puerto de Silay (the longest seaport in Asia at the turn of the century; 1.70 kms). Guiding the princess was a caracao-looking baot of Silay Bantay-Dagat. Jason Benedicto (Bantay Dagat leader) was like an “umalohokan” (village announcer) heralding the coming of the visitors.


At exactly 10:30 am, the Balangay kissed the shoreline. The “agurangs” (elders of Balaring were there to bless the crew after the voyage. Vice Mayor Golez and his staff gave the crew a fervid reception. The “Medalyon sang Kadungganan” (Medallion of Honor) was offered to Art Valdez, the expedition team leader, by Lin-ay Candylou Doromal, and Kagawad Levi Boteros with the entourage (barangay officials, tanods and residents). More or less 500 spectators were there.


Representatives from Dona Montserrat Lopez Memorial High School, Don Albino and Dona Dolores Jison Integrated School, Silay Institure and St. Theresita’s Academy were there as enthusiastic part of the crowd. Leo Oracion of Mt. Everest fame was there to accommodate his fans.


The “Linagomba-Sinigabong” merry making parade on the “Hugyaw Silay” beat was provided by the Silay youth drumbeaters. The warm bodies ended at the barangay covered court for the convocation.


Art Valdez and his crew were given Certificates of Recognition and provided copies of coffee table book, “Silay, the sweet life” (a compilation of Silay history, art, culture, governance and tourism). Valdez talked on the social significance of the balangay, boat building, early customs and practices, pre-colonial culture, and the aspirations of the Filipinos.


Leo Oracion and Janet Belarmino-Sardena shared their experiences in Mt. Everest and their new challenges in the voyage of the Balangay. The enthusiastic audience asked questions on global warming, climate change, navigational activities, itinerary of “Diwata ng Lahi,” and personal concerns.


The “Sinalosalo” (Friendship and Thanksgiving Agape) at Tama Plaza started with a tuba toast from Punong Barangay Jocelyn Doromal to honor the guests. The “pandot” (festivity) commenced. The foods for the sailors were grilled tilapia, gambas, sizzling squid, tanguige knilaw and tinola, pork chops and cultured oyster.


The crew visited also the mangrove rehabilitation project of IKAW-AKO Japan Negros Partnership for Environmental Protection and Silay City Government, the ecotourism winner of DOT Regional Excellence Award 2007.


Sweet Goodbye. Balangay sailed back at 2:30 pm. The send off party could not really forget Silay visitors – Noelle Wenceslao, Carina Dayondon, Fred Jamili, Babes Alvarez and the Badjao sea farers.


It was like revisiting the pas. At least, we know of a positive proof that our ancestors were here in our land 21,000 or 22,000 years ago. They shared elements into a common way of like in what we call the base culture. Be proud of our cultural legacy! Remember, you are Filipino.