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Boat on historic sail drops anchor in Dumaguete

From:    Metro Post

Date:     November 14, 2009

The Diwata ng Lahi (Fairy of the Race), a replica of a historical balanghai wooded boat used by Indo-Malay families in their vast sea travel during pre-Hispanic times, sailed into the calm waters of the Dumaguete port Wednesday, on its way to Mindanao and beyond.

“After two months and seven typhoons since we left Manila, we have arrived in Dumaguete,” said former Transportation and Communication Under Sec. Arturo Valdez, leader of the balanghai mission who also organized the Philippine Mt. Everest expedition.

Valdez said it was a lot easier for the original balanghai sailors to sail the seas then than this voyage they are currently undertaking.

“For one thing, there was no one waiting for them at their destination to hold a [welcome] program,” Valdez said with a laugh.

But Valdez said that even as they have been sailing with the help of nature-based navigational techniques such as the sun, stars, cloud formations, wind, birds, and wave patterns, today’s sailors would need to use modern navigational aids, given changing climate conditions.

“Climate change has changed the sea conditions,” he said.

Dumaguete is the 30th stopover during their two-month journey and the third leg of the balanhai’s journey, which takes it from Cebu to Cagayan de Oro.

The balanghai left the port of Argao in southern Cebu Wednesday morning, and arrived in Dumaguete at 4 pm the same day. It will stay here in Dumaguete until Sunday, Nov. 8, or until repairs to the boat are completed.

While in Dumaguete, the crew will undertake repairs n the balanghai, plant trees, do coastal cleanup activities, and hold symposia with elementary, high school, and college students.

Upon their arrival in Dumaguete City, the crew members were met by a small group from the City of Dumaguete, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the province of Negros Oriental, and some teachers from Foundation University.

The group hoped to circumnavigate Southeast Asian nations by 2010, and to reach Micronesians nations and Madagascar by 2011, to continue to navigate the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans by 2012, and hopefully return to the Philippines by 2013.

Aside from Valdez, the Diwata ng Lahi core crew consists of the members of the Philippines’ Mt. Everest team: Leo Oracion, Erwin “Pastour” Emata, Noelle Wenceslao, Carina Dayondon, Janet Belarmino-Sardena, Dr. Ted Esguerra, Fred Jamili, and Dr. Voltaire Velasco.

The other crew members came from the Coast Guard and the Philippine Navy.