Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sailing the Seven Seas

As part of some freelance work, I went to the Cultural Center of the Philippines last week to do a profile on Art Valdez, the guy who led the Philippine team that conquered Mount Everest.

Currently, he's about to launch a balangay to sail around the Philippines and then around the world. I was sorely impressed with what the man's been doing: first climb Mount Everest and then sail around the world in a pre-Hispanic boat. What next, the moon? I tremble to look at his checklist of things-to-do.

After the interview, I took a few pictures of the balangay with my cell phone camera. Unfortunately, it's a bit low-tech so pardon the crappy resolution:

Here's a shot of the length of the balangay. Unfortunately, they were setting up a pictorial beside it so don't mind the mess. Right beside it is a Mitsubishi pick-up so you can guess how long the boat is in comparison.

Here's a closer look of the prow of the balangay.

Another view of the bottom of the balangay. See how streamlined it is so it can cut through water swiftly? Mr. Valdez called the balangay the Viking longships of Southeast Asia. I can see why.

The design of the current balangay is based on the historical balangays, which used to house 50-60 people. Fortunately, Mr. Valdez and crew will sail with 10-20 people so it won't be too much of a tight fit when they do. (Sorry about the picture, the light-meter on my phone was on 'bright'.)

To stay true to the design of the balangay, they didn't use nails but rather wooden pegs.

For sealant, they used sap (pictured above, hardened like a rock) that they cooked until they melted. Then they applied it to the bottom of the balangay.

See how tight the sealant is? No cracks here, ma.

This last picture is a small launch they're planning to bring along with them on their trip. They haven't installed the outriggers yet at the time.

There are a few times when I really enjoy doing freelance work and this is one of them. Talk about inspiring... (For those who want to check it out, the launch is on 10 a.m., June 27 so be there before then.)


Ryan said...

cool stuff

banzai cat said...

You should have seen the launch. You would have liked it.