The Filipino crew that traveled around Asia aboard three replicas of balangays--pre-colonial sea vessels used by the Badjao tribe of Tawi-Tawi--is back in the country, ABS-CBNNews.com reports. The expedition, which began in September 2009, ended this morning when the flotilla docked at the Harbor Square in Manila.
Former President Fidel V. Ramos, Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa, Gawad Kalinga head Tony Meloto and more personalities welcomed the 39 members of the crew that includes some members of the First Philippine Mt. Everest Expedition team, reports PhilStar.com and ABS-CBNNews.com.
Ramos said the historic voyage shows that Filipinos "can confront any challenge" as long as people stand united. ABS-CBNNews.com quoted him as saying, "Whether it’s Mount Everest, economy, fighting corruption, peace in Mindanao--kaya natin iyan. Kaya ng Pinoy ito. (We can do it)."
Inquirer.net quoted team leader Arturo Valdez: "We have reconnected the present with our glorious, historical past, and we have inspired and stirred national pride in the hearts of Filipinos here and abroad."
The crew traveled to Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and Cambodia, according to Inquirer.net.
Reuters video: Filipinos build a balangay.