Who is my candidate? (Excerpt)

From:    The Philippine Star

Date:     November 8, 2009

By:          Carmen N. Pedrosa

…It is fortuitous that as we embark on our search for the basis of political changes that come from our own roots, we have a project called “The Voyage of the Balangay 2009-2013.” The balangay boat was found in Butuan, Agusan del Sur in the 1970s. The same Filipino group that climbed Mt. Everest led by former Undersecretary of Transportation and Communication Art Valdez and his team are behind the project. The group said in a press statement that just as they conquered the tallest mountains, they are poised to “conquer the seas of the world in a craft that our ancestors used thousands of years ago.”

The group tells why they have taken up the project. “Thousands of years ago, the ancestors of the Filipino people, the Austronesians, traveled from the Asian mainland by land bridges across the continental shelf to Southeast Asian archipelago. They then sailed oward to as far East as Polynesia and as far West as Madagascar, aboard the ancient vessel: the balangay.”

It may seem unrelated but boat building is akin to nation building. The replica of the boat was crafted by master boat builders from the island of Sibutu and Sitangkay in Tawi-Tawi, whose skills had been handed down through generations from the 4th, 13th and 14th century A.D.

“This will not only showcase the capability of the Filipino boat builders but  would also be our way of instilling and propagating the idea among the present Filipinos, particularly the youth, that the Filipinos have been world-class boat builders even before the coming of the Western colonizers.”

Therefore it is appropriate that the smallest unit of government is called a barangay. It used to be knowns as barrio in Spanish and American colonial days. There are 41,995 barangays throughout the Philippines. It is to these units of government that we should address constitutional reforms.

When the Spaniards came in the 16th century they found Filipinos living in well-organized independent villages called barangays. The word comes from balangay, a Malay word meaning “sailboat.” Here is a good example of indigenous inspiration. In pre-colonial Philippines, each original coastal “barangay” was formed by settlers arriving by boat from other places in Southeast Asia.