A wooden boat fashioned after the relics of our culture. Inspire and learn about our proud history and the way to find ways to reclaim.
Before the Philippines was colonized by the Spanish, our country used to have a rich maritime culture. We were a proud nation of sea farers and boat builders. But with colonization, most were forced to abandon the ways of the elders of building and traveling through the network of waters that surrounded our islands. Roads were prioritized, traditions were abandoned and ultimately spirits were broken. Little attention was paid to the resource and means of travel that was already strong and present since 320A.D . An interesting tidbit about the Philippines is that linguists have discovered that dialects of neighboring coasts are more similar than that of people who live in the highlands and their counterparts in low lying planes in the same area.
Flash forward to 2009, A group of enterprising Filipinos are about to take the maiden voyage to the ends of the country on board a vessel built using only the same means as our ancestors and with knowledge passed down by tradition to a select few. The Balangay is a traditional sea ferrying vessel discovered in the province of Butuan in the 1970’s. It is the first known South East Asian water wooden craft. The project seeks to build a replica of the craft and trace the routes of the early Indo-Malays when they sailed their way into seas and oceans and eventually a forgotten history.
The “Diwata ng Lahi” (Muse or Fairy of the Sea) seeks to reclaim this lost history of ours and it was such a wonderful feeling to see it being eased into the sea. She will sail only by means of traditional sea ferrying using only its sails and oars to reach its destination. Traveling no less than 3,000 nautical miles on its first phase. Jettying from Manila to Boracay, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Zamboanga, Davao to the tip of the country. A lot of these locations have been written about by the way. The crew will be composed of the first Filipino team to reach the summit of Mount Everest, The boat builders who belong to the Badjao, an indigenous group which are respected for their courage and skills at sea. They will be joined by historians and Project Leader Mr. Art Valdez. The second phase of its voyage after reaching Tawi-Tawi is to set sail across South East Asia and then if all goes well to the coast of Africa. It was such a great moment to see her launched into the sea, to be part of her voyage’s first steps. I hope it would inspire others to learn more about our proud history and find ways to reclaim it.