Three Balangay Boats to Hoist a Giant Philippine Flag in Manila Bay
See them on Independence Day.
(SPOT.ph) The Philippines is an archipelagic country so it doesn't come as a surprise that the early Filipinos were people of the sea. Indigenous communities lived on the coast, near rivers, or above water in houses on stilts or even on boats. This is proven by the unearthing of the first balangay boats, carbon-dated to 320 AD, in Butuan in 1976. To celebrate this maritime prowess of our pre-Hispanic forefathers and our Day of Independence, three replicas of this vessel will sail in Manila Bay with a 10-by-20-foot Philippine flag on June 12, 8:30 a.m.
"It is by looking back and relearning our rich and proud history [that] we can truly move forward as one nation," says Voyage of the Balangay documentor and photographer Fung Yu in an interview with SPOT.ph.
Voyage of the Balangay is a project by Kaya ng Pinoy Foundation. It aims to retrace the expeditions of our ancestors across the oceans by using the native balangay and navigating through the traditional methods of looking at the stars and the sun, finding wave patterns, and considering bird migrations. The voyage is carried out by the Philippine Everest Team, which planted the Philippine flag on the highest mountain of the world in 2006 and 2007. They first set sail around the Philippines in 2009 with the boat "Diwata ng Lahi." Two more boats ("Masawa Hong Butuan" and "Sama Tawi-Tawi") were added to the fleet which sailed for 14 months to Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand, and Singapore. In May 2017, two new vessels "Sultan sin Sulu" and "Lahi ng Maharlika" joined "Sama Tawi-Tawi" and sailed from Sulu to Zamboanga, then to Bacolod, and finally to Manila just in time for the Kalayaan 2017 program.
The fleet is yet to sail to China to celebrate the 600th year of diplomatic relations between Sultan Paduka Batara of Sulu and the emperor of the Ming Dynasty and to visit the sultanate's grave. "It was unfortunate that the sultan fell ill and died during the return voyage; but upon learning this, the emperor ordered a royal funeral and granted lands and citizenships to the sultan’s two sons and his wife who stayed behind to tend to his tomb," narrates Yu. The team is also on a mission to proceed to Hong Kong as soon as weather permits to deliver and reconnect the Philippine flag to its birthplace.
“Our archipelagic nature should not be a hindrance why we cannot come together as one people; the waters are there not to divide, but to unite,” Yu quotes expedition leader Art Valdez. This is an example of symbolism that we could all use right now.