April 6, 2010

Ancient methods

When the Spaniards arrived in our islands in the 16th century, they discovered indigenous peoples that were well-organized into independent villages called the barangay (which is still the word we use for the smallest unit of our government). The word comes from the Austronesian word for sailboat, balangay or balanghai, a prehistoric wooden sailboat used by many of the island peoples of Southeast Asia and Oceania.

reconstructed balangay (wooden sailboat) at the Museum of the Filipino People


In the 1970s, nine of these balangay were discovered off the coast of Butuan City in the province of Agusan del Norte by archeologists of the National Museum. Only three have been excavated so far. One is still being reconstructed; the older of the other two, dated at 320 CE, is displayed in a museum in Butuan. This one is the third, dated at 1250, and is in the maritime hall of the Museum of the Filipino People. Only a few pieces of the boat survived its centuries-long immersion but the museum reconstructed a large part of the hull so visitors can better appreciate what it looks like.

reconstructed balangay (wooden sailboat) at the Museum of the Filipino People


Last year, a group of Filipino adventurers from the teams that scaled Mt. Everest in 2006 and 2007 decided to recreate a balangay using the same wood and construction methods that our ancestors would have used, and sail it using only the navigation methods available to the earliest mariners. The first voyage will be in Philippine waters, the second will be around Southeast Asia, and the third—the most ambitious of all—will be to sail to Madagascar. They are currently in the middle of the ninth leg of their ten-leg Philippine journey. If you're interested in their adventure, you can visit the Voyage of the Balangay website or follow them on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

28 comments:

bfarr said...

Very interesting history and construction of the boat. It always amazes me the people with primitive tools.

JM said...

This is SO interesting and the photos are great, Hilda! But from the Philippines to Madagascar?! Wow! I will follow that for sure!

Jacob said...

Fascinating. I think it's amazing there is anything left of these boats. And I've never heard the word, Austronesian. So, you've taught me several things today. Thank you!

Carolyn said...

Very interesting post, Hilda. Thanks for the information. I love it when ancient relics are discovered and resurrected. Makes our connection to the past so vivid.

ρομπερτ said...

What a hope providing entry of yours. Wishing them always two hands full of water beneath their keel.
Please have a wonderful Tuesday.

Photo Cache said...

very very interesting post.

belated happy easter.

Halcyon said...

I'm sure it's nice, but I still prefer cruising! :D

Paula Staley said...

I can't imagine how much strength and courage these early people must have had. Not to mention intelligence looking at the construction of these sailing vessels. Great post, Hilda!

Lachezar said...

I have a fascination with old boats and sailing methods, so your story and images are totally mesmerizing to me!

Youth_in_Asia said...

Great photos and a neat history lesson!

Don and Krise said...

People used to accomplish so very much with so little. I have great respect for the inginuity and skill that it took to build these boats.

Olivier said...

fascinant, et c'est bien que cela soit preserver

Ebie said...

Very interesting, and I am going to check out the link!

It is incredible!

Saretta said...

Fascinating stuff!

brattcat said...

amazing photos, excellent information.

Misalyn said...

Very interesting post. Will check out the links later. Thanks for sharing.

Abraham said...

This is really an excellent post, Hilda. Not only does it share some of your countries treasures but it is also interesting reading as your writing is easy to read. And, the links are important too as it just adds a dimension for those whose imaginations are somewhat skewed or limited, will appreciate. Thanks for that.

Johnny said...

Bonito recuerdo del pasado antiguo de tu país.
Saludos Hilda.
Gracias por tus visitas

Louis la Vache said...

What an interesting post, Hilda! «Louis» thanks you for adding the links for more information.

Lois said...

This is fascinating Hilda!

VP said...

This a very interesting story and I'll check now the links. This adventure in an original boat is really fascinating.

Ken Mac said...

can you imagine being locked into that for weeks or months on end. Wow!

Mirela said...

Wonderful... I hope they're creating replicas for tourists to enjoy one of those voyages... even if it's just along the coast :)

mgrozman said...

Batangas has so many wonderfull view. you should try mabini or
padre garcia in batangas.

Dina said...

Beautiful!
How exciting, the voyages. Thanks for the link.

AB said...

An informative entry. I like the sweeping view in the first photo.

George said...

It is wonderful that these ancient craft have been discovered and reconstructed. It's even more wonderful that people are sailing around the Philippines in this type of craft. I wish them well and hope their planned voyages are successful as well.

the donG said...

amazing reconstruction! i saw the ones in butuan way back 2007 and it's really good to see one here restored partially.

applause for the people behind this project.