Pre-Hispanic watercraft docks in Davao wharf

From:    The Manila Bulletin (Mindanao)

Date:     April 15, 2010

Title:      Pre-Hispanic watercraft docks in Davao wharf

By:          Sarah Jane R. Hilomen


DAVAO CITY – Composed of the first Filipino team to reach the peak of the famous Mt. Everest, the Balangay voyage made its stopover there on Monday to showcase a historical travel using this pre-Hispanic watercraft which can only be found in the Philippines.


Upon disembarking by noon at the Sta. Ana Wharf, this city, the team dubbed Kaya ng Pinoy, Inc., headed by former undersecretary of the Department of Transportation and Communication (DoTC) Arturo Valdez, was welcomed by officials of the city, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).


Valdez narrated how the team almost did not make the trip to the city which is supposed to arrive last March 9.


“We almost though we could not make it because last March 15 and 16, we were negotiating the rough waters of Sarangani Strait with big waves and strong current entering Jose Abad Santos in Davao del Sur, we thought the boat was about to split apart. We sought shelter at a cove at Sitio Malabinuang, Barangay Balungunan in Jose Abad Santos. With the damage, we had to bring the boat to General Santos for two weeks of repair. A month later, we made it here,” he said.


Valdez disclosed that the Kaya ng Pinoy, Inc., launched this undertaking to retrace the migration of the country’s ancestors across the oceans using the only native Balangay, build with the craftsmanship and materials used during the ancient times.


“We also made the navigation 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,” he said.


The Balangay is a plank boat joined by carved-out plank edge through pins and dowels.


It was first mentioned in the 16th century in the Chronicles of Pigafetta, and is known as the oldest pre-Hispanic watercraft found in the Philippines.


Measuring 15 meters long, and three to four meters wide, the Balangay is propelled by a sail made of buri or nipa fiber; or padding, and is large enough to accommodate 60 to 90 people.


The 28-meter crew of one of the two Balangays joining the voyage also included the climbers of the 1st Philippine Mount Everest Expedition team – Leo Oracion, Erwin “Pastour” Emata, Janet Belarmino –Sardena, Noelle Wenceslao, and Carina Dayondon.


The Team started off at Manila Bay on September 1, 2009 and hopes to set off for Southeast Asia this year.


Emata, who brought with him his children, Lychen, 7; and Icy, 5, making the two the youngest passengers onboard the Balangay, disclosed that the voyage already docked at more than 60 ports in the Philippines and is yet to conquer the rest of Asia as it kicks off for Tawi-Tawi for Southeast Asia.