Saturday, April 18, 2009


From the national highway in Libertad, one has to ride a trisikad and pass through at least 12 kilometers of cemented road to reach Balangay Shrine.

Relic of the oldest Philippine watercraft – Balangay 1, carbon dated age 1630 years before present (110 years), measured 15 meters in length and 3 meters wide across the beam, discovered on September 3, 1976.
Circa – 320 A.D. as determined by the Gakushuin University, Tokyo, Japan

The Balangay Shrine Museum, a one-storey building that serves as a unit of the National Museum, where it houses two of the three ancient boats discovered and excavated from 1976 to 1986.

Put on display are other cultural materials associayed with the boat like human and animal remains, coffins, pots, jewelries, hunting tools, and ceramics. The main attraction is the relic of the oldest Philippine watercraft called Balangay-pronounced as Ba-lang-hāy, now popularly called as the Butuan Boat.

The Balangays are large, wooden plank-built and edge-pegged boats. This method of construction is typical to Southeast Asian boat making. The planks are one continuous piece carved to shape and made of hardwood identified as Heretiara Litorales, locally known as Dongon. The boat was 15 meters in length and 3 meters across the beam. Only in Butuan, in no other locality in the Philippines or in Southeast Asia for the matter, has there been such rare and extensive recovery of these maritime vessels and the cultural relics associated with an affluent seafaring people in this part of the globe.

The National Museum in Manila houses the other boat. No other remains of the ancient boats, locally known as balanghais, were found elsewhere.

These archaeological findings became one of the country’s National Treasure by virtue of Presidential Proclamation no. 86 by President Corazon C. Aquino, and the sites where they were discovered as archaeological sites.

At present, the Balangay Shrine is at a "dilapidated" state, threatening the restoration of what is perhaps the most important evidence of pre-Hispanic Filipino civilization. The Butuan Global Foundation is said to donate half a million pesos to renovate the building hopefully within 2009.

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