A lawmaker has called on his colleagues in the House of Representatives to pass a measure declaring the balangay as the country’s national boat on or before December 14, or 500 days before the 500th anniversary of the Battle of Mactan and the First Circumnavigation of the World.
“I am hoping the House Bill No. 4953 will be approved in the chamber in time for the start of the 500-day countdown on December 14 to highlight the boatbuilding and seafaring genius of our ancestors,” said Agusan del Norte Rep. Lawrence Fortun, principal author of the bill.
“This next 2,000-kilometer round trip balangay voyage would take about a month to complete,” he added.
The measure has already been approved on second reading at the House of Representatives.
The balangay boats will sail from San Vicente, Palawan where these are currently berthed and cross the Sulu Sea to reach Butuan, the ancient kingdom of Filipinos’ pre-colonial ancestors.
“It will be a great honor to join the representatives from the City of Butuan to welcome the balangay boats,” said Fortun who served as Butuan City vice mayor before joining Congress.
From Butuan, the balangay boats will sail to Cebu-Mactan with a few brief stops along the way before returning to Palawan.
According to the balangay crew, led by former Transportation Undersecretary Art Valdez, they are “working on another project for the balangay boat(s) to visit major islands of our archipelago in support of education and our precolonial heritage.”
Balangay was the first-ever wooden watercraft excavated in Southeast Asia demonstrating early Filipino boat-building and seamanship expertise during pre-colonial times.
The “Butuan Boat” was used by early Filipinos to maintain trade relations with neighboring islands within the archipelago and empires around Southeast Asia during the 10th and 11th centuries.