Friday, June 12, 2009

Re-creating Balanghai in Butuan




Balanghai Circumnavigation Team is planning to build Balanghai 2, here in Butuan City; this is the latest development as former DOTC Undersecretary Art Valdez makes a commitment after successfully completing the Balanghai using ancient construction methods that can now be seen at CCP grounds.

Butuan Historical and Cultural Foundation and Butuan Global Forum will have a major role in raising funds for the realization of the project and of giving opportunity to those living in Butuan to see a Balanghai and be part of another important event in the history of tracing back the pre-Hispanic times of sea travel.

The historical wooden boat will be replicated here in Butuan and the process has started by getting an approval from DENR Caraga to obtain materials like the Dungon which will be sourced locally, the same kind of wood used by the team of Balanghai Project Manager Judail Muyong in building Balanghai 1.

Valdez and the group of people from Tawi-tawi, the home of the Badjaos' Master Builder who created the Balanghai will be coming over to Butuan to start the construction anytime in July 2009.

The Badjaos from the Island of Sibutu are the last community in the Philippines who knows how to build Balanghai using ancient method.

Initial talks are underway to negotiate PPA to use their area in the construction of Balanghai 2.
Instead of earlier announcement that Balanghai 1 will set sail on June 24, Voyage Balanghai will have its maiden voyage on June 27 following the cycle of the New Moon.
Balanghai Circumnavigation Team led by Valdez will have a 20-man team which will compose the Philippine's Mount Everest team with tourism officials and scientists namely, Leo Oracio, Ervin Pastor Ermita, Noel Winceslao, Karina Dayondon, Janet Belarmino-Sardina, Dr. Ted Esguerra, Fred Jamili and Dr. Walter Villasco, 6 Badjaos who will help in navigating Balanghai, 4 from the Special Operations Group of the Philippine Navy, and hopefully, 2 from Butuan.

The Philippine Coast Guard provided a ship to escort Voyage Balanghai on its journey to show their support.

Voyage Balanghai now included Butuan City as part of its stop over in the 7-leg journey around Philippine waters. It will stay in Butuan for 5 days before proceeding to travel towards Cagayan de Oro City and if luck would have it, Balanghai 2 built in Butuan will now join Voyage Balanghai in circumnavigating the world.

If Balanghai 2 will not yet be finished by the time Voyage Balanghai arrives in Butuan, it will catch up in a much later date.

Meanwhile, local historian Greg Hontiveros will join the Balanghai Circumnavigation Team in one of its leg of the Voyage Balanghai to write a book about the Balanghai: “The Maritime Heritage of Southeast Asia.”

Mr. Hontiveros is the author of "Butuan of a Thousand Years" where he wrote:

"In July 1976, antique hunters hit on the remains of a large wooden boat in sitio Ambangan of barangay Libertad, a couple of kilometers south of Suatan. This discovery was unprecedented in Asia: the balanghai boat relics were the eastern equivalent to the Viking boat discoveries in Northern Europe."

In 1987, President Corazon Aquino declared Balanghai as a national treasure.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Balanghai (Butuan Boat) to Circumnavigate the World

balanghai boat

master balangay

The Master Builder: Master Balanghai Project Manager Judail Muyong, pointing to the final destination of the Balangay Voyage: Tawi-Tawi

natural resin

To make the Balangay water-tight, they use natural resin from mangrove trees.


The planks are connected with pegs (dowels. The historical wooden boat which did not use any single nail and built in a lashed lug technique believed to have been used by Malay settlers in their vast sea travel during pre-Hispanic times will be used again to circumnavigate the World.

balanghai circumnavigation team

Balanghai Circumnavigation Team headed by former DOTC USEC Art Valdez

huskies joining

Art Valdez' pet dogs will be joining in this historical Balanghai Journey.

phase 1

Phase 1: Philippine waters with 7 legs: Manila, Boracay, Mactan in Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Zamboanga, General Santos, Davao City, Siluag in Tawi-Tawi


balanghai @ ct library

On June 5 after 40 days of construction, the now famous Balanghai (pronounced as Ba-la-ngay) Boat is complete, and will soon be transferred to Manila Bay on June 12, 111th Independence Day Celebration, after it finally sets sail on June 24 in time for the Araw ng Maynila.

Last April 24 of this year, the The Kaya ng Pinoy Foundation, together with the Philippine Mt. Everest Expedition team, spearheaded the ceremonial laying of the keel held at the CCP grounds, Pasay City with Former President Fidel Ramos as the keynote speaker.

The event signals the start of the construction with the age old tradition in boat building that this will bring good fortune and safe voyage.
According to former DOTC Undersecretary Art Valdez, the team will attempt to set a record by travelling around the world using the ancient Filipino sailing vessel called Balanghai or Butuan Boat, the first phase consists of 7 legs around Philippine waters namely Manila, Boracay, Mactan in Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Zamboanga, General Santos, Davao City and Siluag in Tawi-tawi before it begins to retrace the trading routes in Southeast Asia on 2010.

Butuan Boat primarily was chosen because it is the very first mode of transportation used by the forefathers in trading with the Chinese and other Asians and it has been used long before the Philippines was discovered, as Butuanons proudly say: “There was no Philippines, but there was Butuan”.

The same group of men and women who had set the record as the first Filipinos to have reached the summit of Mount Everest in 2006, and the first Filipino women, who carried out the same feat a year later will make up the Balanghai circumnavigation team composed of Leo Oracion, Edwin “Pastor” Emata, Noelle Wenceslao, Carina Dayondon, Janet Belarmino-Sardena, Dr. Ted Esguerra, Fred Jamili, Dr. Voltaire Velasco, and Usec Art Valdez who heads the team.

The Balangay was created using ancient construction methods. The shell is made of Dungon, which is the wood used by Philippine ancestors, while the planks are connected with pegs (the "dowels") and to make the Balanghai water-tight, the builders used natural resin from mangrove trees.

The Balangay measured 15 meters long and 3 meters wide is located near Folk Arts Theater and the Sun Cruises Ferry going to Corregidor. (photos by Anton Diaz)

Giant Loggerhead Pawikan Found in Masao, Butuan

released june 5









A giant endangered pawikan was caught by fisherman Milanio Malinao in his fish cage in the coastal waters of Masao in the morning of June 4, 2009.

Forester Requerme Hebia, Chief of the Protected Areas & Wildlife of CENRO Butuan identified the pawikan belonging to the Loggerhead specie, measuring 104.1 cm in length and 86.4 cm in width.

Of the 7 known species of marine turtles in the world, 5 are found in the Philippines namely, the loggerhead, leatherback, olive ridley, hawksbill and green turtle.

“This is the 3rd time in 2009 that a pawikan was caught in the same area but the previous two are undocumented, and this is the largest so far”, said Forester Hebia.

Forester Hebia upon examination of the rescued giant Loggerhead pawikan showed that it has no injuries, no markings or tags on its flippers which are an indicator that it has not been caught before.

After the tagging on her right flipper, at exactly 11 o’clock in the morning, Forester Hebia, CENRO Staff, along with personnel from the City ENRO and several Masao residents, the loggerhead pawikan was released back to the sea.

Last year, 4 pawikans were found in Caraga identified as a Leatherback specie and was properly documented.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Butuan: site of the first official hoisting of Philippine Flag in Mindanao


The 100 ft historic flag pole, getting ready for June 11 on its 111th Philippine Independence Day Celebration.

The story:In 1999 the National Centennial Commission proclaimed that Butuan was the site of the 1st flag-raising in Mindanao and that it took place on January 17,1899.

The flag was raised at the town square, attended by Filipino patriots led by Wenceslao Gonzales.

To commemorate the centenary of the event the commission had the town square refurbished and built a hundred-foot flagpole.

The claim was contested by Surigao and Cagayan de Oro. To settle the matter a roundtable panel, headed by former Supreme Court Associate Justice Camilo D. Quiason, was convened. It heard the presentations by the three cities.

Representatives from Cagayan de Oro said that the Philippine flag was raised by Filipino patriots in their place on January 10, 1899. The spokesmen from Surigao presented evidence that the flag was raised there as early as December 26, 1898.

Though it was said that the flag was observed flying without any fanfare, the panel ruled in favor of Surigao. The National Historical Institute installed a marker recognizing Surigao.

However, to date, Butuan was recognized as the site of the FIRST OFFICIAL hoisting of the Philippine flag in Mindanao.

National Flag Day



“Love of country, respect for the flag, two of the first lessons we learn from Constitution,” says City Mayor Democrito D. Plaza II in his message read by Vice Mayor Dino Claudio Sanchez in a ceremony held at the Rizal Park on the occasion of National Flag Day, giving emphasis on the importance of Republic Act 8491, otherwise known as the “Flag and Heraldic Code”.

As early as 6:30 in the morning, a motorcade was held participated in by Regional line agencies, and the Local Government of Butuan spearheaded by DENR-Caraga to instill patriotism.

This year’s National Flag Day celebration is anchored on the theme “Kagitingan, Kagalingan at Kasipagan Tungo sa Tunay na Kalayaan”.

DENR Regional Executive Director Edilberto Buiser led the hoisting of the Philippine Flag of the historic 100-ft flag pole at the Rizal Park, with the participation of the local officials of Butuan and officials of different regional line agencies, including PIA and the Philippine National Police.

Congressman Jose Aquino II was represented by his Executive Assistant Paquito Ato who was made to read the message that reminded the public to join in displaying the flag from May 25 to June 12 during the Philippine Independence Day celebration.

Meanwhile, DENR Regional Executive Director Buiser proudly announced that for 2 consecutive years, DENR Secretary Jose Atienza, Jr. is once again designated by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as the head of the National Flag Day Committee.

Public School Students Receives Notebooks under the Read Right and be Bright Program

Grade 3 pupils from Butuan Central Elementary School and Ong Yiu Central Elementary School was the first to received notebooks from Vice Mayor Dino Claudio Sanchez in a simple ceremony held today in their respective schools.

This is under the Vice Mayor’s learning advocacy program dubbed as “Read Right and be Bright,” to encourage students from Grades 1 to 3 to develop a very good habit of reading.

Each notebooks has a story about “The Ant and the Grasshopper” printed at the back in its effort to inculcate to the young minds the necessity to prepare ahead and to build up an understanding on life’s lesson and good attitude.

“This is our second year of implementation of the Read Right and be Bright Program with a total allocation of 15,000 notebooks for this year, to be distributed to 102 elementary schools in Butuan City”, said Vice Mayor Dino Claudio Sanchez.

The Vice Mayor also belied accusations that the initiative was politically motivated as 2010 elections are fast approaching.

He explained, that even during the time that he is the Chairman of the Sangguniang Panlunsod Committee on Education, he already had this advocacy and remained consistent in implementing learning interventions giving priority to indigent school children in public schools for the past 7 years.

The Vice mayor added, “Instead of criticizing the program, the learning advocacy program should be supported.”

Vigilant against A(H1N1)

The Department of Health-Caraga intensifies campaign against A(H1N1) and coordinated with Department of Education Caraga Regional Office to ensure health safety now that classes begun for school year 2009-2010 and college at all levels will soon start classes by Monday.

Director Leonita Gorgolon said, that the foreigner and 2 Filipino women previously tested after exhibiting flu like symptoms turned out negative from A(H1N1).

“To date Caraga has no confirmed cases, however, since June 1 we are now waiting for the laboratory result from another A(H1N1) suspected carrier who showed mild respiratory symptoms ”, revealed Director Gorgolon.

DOH personnel distributed to public schools some information materials and checked the availability of hand washing sites to prevent and control influenza A(H1N1) among students.

School administrators are constantly reminded to be vigilant against A(H1N1) and urged teachers to implement preventive health measures written on booklets being distributed as their guidelines in controlling the spread of A(H1N1) among students.