Balangay fleet completes historic voyage

Balangay fleet completes historic voyage

Three replicas of pre-Spanish Filipino boats collectively called the Balangay returned home after completing a historic 14-month voyage around Southeast Asia.

A plank boat adjoined by a carved-out plank edged through pins and dowels, the Balangay, also called the Balanghai or Butuan Boat, started its historic voyage last Sept. 1, 2009 and traveled to Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand and Singapore. The flotilla is now docked at the Harbor Center near the Manila Yacht Club at Manila Bay.

Considered by historians as the first wooden watercraft excavated in Southeast Asia, the Balangay was first mentioned in the Chronicles of Pigafetta dating back to the 16th Century. Nine specimens have been discovered in the Philippines in 1976. Extensive examinations of three excavated boats revealed its ages as dating back to 320, 990 and 1250 AD.

Former president Fidel Ramos and Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa headed the group that welcomed the 39 crew members lead by team leader Art Valdez.

Ramos said the historic voyage shows that the Filipino people can conquer any challenge if they stand united.

For his part, Valdez said the old wooden boats can still be used to cross seas to visit other countries if manned by a dedicated crew.