June 29, 2009

Adventure Group Takes To The Seas

A group of adventurers, who previously conquered Mount Everest, will now sail around Southeast Asia in a replica of an ancient Philippine boat to promote Filipino pride.

They are sailing in a balangay - a wooden-hulled boat used in the islands about 1,700 years ago.

The initial launch was celebrated by 300 spectators who cheered and applauded as the bow hit the water in Manila Bay.

Native Badjao boat-builders from the southernmost Philippine province of Tawi Tawi built it in 44 days using traditional skills handed down through the generations.

Jubail Muyong, a teacher with the seafaring tribe, said he and nine Badjao craftsmen were flown to Manila to build the 50-foot boat. They used ancient traditions so not a single nail was used.

Expedition leader Art Valdez said the boat was a powerful symbol of Filipino achievement.

"(Since) more than a thousand years ago, this is the first time that a boat of this kind appeared in these waters, built by our people," Valdez said. "The boat is a time capsule that carries the history of our people."

The 20-member expedition is made up of five coast guard personnel who were also the first Filipinos to reach Everest's summit.

The boat will leave Manila after training at Sangley Point, a former U.S. naval base in Cavite province. They are expected to depart mid-July.

The expedition is expected to cover 2,000 nautical miles and make 75 port calls from the northern to southern Philippines in seven and a half months.

The boat will then start a 12 month voyage to other Southeast Asian countries.
Dr. Ted Esguerra said the expedition will conduct medical missions in poor coastal communities during its voyage.

The group also has big plans. They want to teach disaster preparedness, protect endangered coral reefs, and plant mangrove trees to protect marine life.

Valdez said coast guard and navy vessels will keep an eye on their trip and help them if they need assistance.

The crew runs a website, where they promise blogs and updates in the near future about their adventure. You can find it at, http://www.balangay-voyage.com/.