The Final Voyage of the Butuan Balangays

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Setting their sails, inspecting their products, and completing and double-checking their provisions for a long voyage in a route already they became accustomed to, the seafarers and merchants bade adieu. This has been their life, their familiar routine, their tradition. And for decades and centuries during the Age of Sail, seafaring and the inherent commercial activities consequently made Butuan a flourishing state.

The Age of Discovery, as the Western scholars would like to romanticize their relentless pursuits of new territories and eternal sources of riches, may have contributed to the subjugation of the thriving Butuan rajahnate. Its death knell may have resonated all the more furiously when Spanish conquistadores reached this ancient kingdom. A civilization ahead of its time, a settlement more progressive than the rest of the islands came to a grinding halt, a sad fate soon shared all over the archipelago.

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The Digital Age however created a new wave of nationalism, the fervor of which were compelling enough to hatch a plan to retrace the ancient trade routes these balangays used to navigate through.

Timeline and Highlights:

  • September 1, 2009. Balangay Diwata ng Lahi left CCP Complex in Pasay City to start the Voyage of the Balangay.
  • February 4, 2010. Balangays Masawa Hong Butuan and Diwata ng Lahi left Butuan City to continue the Voyage of the Balangay around Mindanao and Southeast Asia.
  • July 22, 2010. Balangay Sama Tawi-Tawi left Butuan City to rendezvous with Balangay Masawa Hong Butuan and Balangay Diwata ng Lahi in Zamboanga City.
  • August 1, 2010. The three balangays left Paseo del Mar in Zamboanga City for travel to Sulu and Tawi-Tawi before crossing international waters towards Sabah, Malaysia.
  • August 15, 2010. The balangay flotilla crossed international waters from Turtle Islands, Tawi-Tawi and arrived in Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia, its 81st port of call and first in international voyage.
  • October 26, 2010. The balangay flotilla left Sihanoukville, Cambodia for the return trip to the Philippines after traveling around Southeast Asia. Sihanoukville is the 101st port of call and 21st in international voyage. Countries visited: Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia and the waters of Vietnam.
  • November 16, 2010. The balangay flotilla reentered Philippine waters from Pulau Banggi, Malaysia to Balabac, Palawan.
  • December 13, 2010. The balangay flotilla reached CCP Complex after more than 15 months sailing around the Philippines and Southeast Asia.
  • January 21, 2011. Balangay Masawa Hong Butuan begins journey home to Butuan City from CCP Complex, escorted by Balangay Sama Tawi-Tawi.

Note: This is part of LegendHarry‘s Nov 21-29 Northern Mindanao-Caraga-Davao Trip.

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