By Charissa Luci-Atienza
The significance of the ‘balangay’ as not only deserving a place in museums, but also in the consciousness of every Filipino, has encouraged the House Committee on Basic Education and Culture to approve a bill declaring the oldest watercraft in the country as the national boat of the Philippines.
The House panel, chaired by Cebu Rep. Ramon Durano VI passed House Bill 986, recognizing the ‘balangay’ as a “symbol of the Filipino community’s character of unity, cooperation, determination and resilience.”
“Declaring it the country’s national boat will ensure that future generations will recognize the invaluable contribution of our forefathers in shaping our maritime tradition and passing on the values of solidarity, harmony, determination, courage and bravery,” Agusan del Norte Rep. Lawrence Lemuel Fortun, principal author of the bill, said.
He noted that the ‘balangay,’ known as the Butuan boat, was the first-ever wooden watercraft to be excavated in Southeast Asia demonstrating early Filipino boat-building genius and seamanship expertise during the pre-colonial times.
“Found only in the Philippines where a flotilla of such ancient boats exists, the Butuan boat was utilized by our ancestors to maintain trade relations with neighboring islands around the country and empires around Southeast Asia,” Fortun said.
He said the extensive utilization of balangay for trade “confirms the active involvement of our forefathers in robust commercial activities in Asia as early as the 10th and 11th centuries.”
The vessel is a plank boat adjoined by carved-out planks edged through pins and dowels. It is a finely built boat designed for long-distance navigation made without the use of blueprints and was taught to be made from one generation to another using an ancient technique that has been preserved and is still employed by boat makers of Sibutu island.
“The boat was first mentioned in the 16th Century in the Chronicles of Pigafetta,” Fortun noted, citing that there are nine balangay boats known to be in existence, the oldest of which has been carbon-dated around 320 A.D.
Duque said that after 10 years, and for the second time around as DOH Chief, he felt deeply honored to have been part of the official launchings of both the PNSDW of 2007 and 2017.
The guide is embodied in the DOH Administrative Order No. 10 series of 2017, which prescribes the standards and procedures on drinking-water quality aiming to protect the public and consumer’s health.