Saturday, February 13, 2010

Balangay Chronicles: Week 1

My recent involvement with the construction of Balangay Masawa Hong Butuan pushed me to volunteer as a ground crew for Team Balangay. Together with Everest summiteer Carina Dayondon, I was tasked to help coordinate with the locals at the ports of call in Northern Mindanao.

February 4, 2010 - Carmen, Agusan del Norte

And so our trip began at Carmen, Agusan del Norte. After the send-off festivities in Butuan, Carina and I joined Atty. Vincent Fortun who kindly drove us to Jurassic Park Resort where we would meet with the rest of the team in the afternoon. At the resort, we were assisted by the staff from the Municipal Information Office and the Municipal Tourism Office.

The balangays, with around 20 guest crew from Butuan, arrived around 5PM. The boats had to be anchored offshore because the coast was too rocky. Good thing Tiririt was there to bring the passengers to the resort.

After the guest crew left, the team shared a simple dinner of rice and seafood, courtesy of the resort owner. The team then rested early for another day of sailing the following day.

February 5, 2010 - Gingoog City

Team Balangay had an early breakfast followed by a quick briefing by Sir Art Valdez. The team was in high morale as we left Carmen for Gingoog City.

From the resort, Carina and I took a habal-habal to the highway where we flagged down a Bachelor bus to Gingoog. 

At Gingoog, we coordinated with the City Tourism Officer, Mr. Audie Ocampo, whom I met by chance last month at the airport in Butuan. The team from the Department of Agriculture - Region 10 also arrived from Cagayan de Oro. After a quick lunch, we proceeded to the docking site of the balangays. It was a beach area in Barangay San Juan, right beside the elementary school. The pupils were glad to see us and they were all excited to meet the rest of the crew.

At around 2PM, Team Balangay arrived in Gingoog City amid the cheers and waving flags of the pupils of San Juan Elementary School and the local people of Gingoog. The team members were introduced to the public in a mini program. Then, we proceeded to the City Hall for a courtesy call with Mayor Ruth Guingona.

There was power outage at dinner time so the crew decided to eat at the beach cottages. We were joined by the Barangay Captain and the local CVO team.

That night, I pitched a tent at the beach and slept there while the others slept inside the classrooms.

The balangays in Gingoog City
(photo courtesy of Andy Maluche)

February 6, 2010 - Balingoan, Misamis Oriental

I woke up early the following day and took a quick dip in the calm waters of Gingoog Bay while some team members did their morning exercises at the beach. Breakfast was served soon after and then we were ready to leave for Balingoan.

For lunch, we stopped at Duka Bay Resort upon the invitation of the Pelaez family. The whole team enjoyed the sumptuous lunch but had to board the balangays for the rest of the trip to Balingoan.

It was a good windy day for sailing, and for the first time, Balangay Masawa Hong Butuan registered 8 knots per hour on the meter. I guess the wind was too strong for Balangay Diwata ng Lahi because she was dragged towards the shoreline, forcing her crew to drop anchor a few kilometers away from Balingoan. Masawa Hong Butuan arrived first and Tiririt had to go back and tow Balangay Diwata ng Lahi to the port.

Once settled in Balingoan, the team trooped to the Municipal Hall for the courtesy call and dinner with Mayor Perlita Espero. After dinner, some team members stayed at the Municipal Hall to spend the night there. Sir Art, Andy and Lito checked in at a nearby lodging house, compliments of the Mayor. The rest of us enjoyed a few rounds of drinks, courtesy of Chief Ojie, before settling in our tents right there on the pier.

February 7, 2010 - Camiguin Island

After breakfast, Team Balangay proceeded to Benoni in the island of Camiguin. Carina and I took the local ferry and arrived there just before noon. The local Coast Guard served us lunch, after which, we checked out our living quarters at Benoni Elementary School while Ma'am Cora, Jojo and Kuya Manits of DA-10 went to Mambajao to do some marketing. This awesome threesome from DA-10 would be doing all the cooking for us while we are in their jurisdiction and if there are no LGU-hosted meals for the team.

We stayed in Camiguin for four days. The crew had to do some work on the sails in between courtesy calls, island tours and emergency rescue operations. We also had the chance to feast on two lechons, all-you-can-eat pastel, and super sweet lanzones, courtesy of Governor Jurdin Jesus Romualdo.

Alas, our Camiguin days had to end and soon, it was time to leave for the next port of call.

Balangay Diwata ng Lahi at Mantigue Island, Camiguin
(photo courtesy of Andy Maluche)

1 comment:

Edward King said...

Gingoog? This actually comes as a surprise. I had no idea that such a place (a beautiful one at that) exist. I thought it was all made-up by the writer of pugad baboy comics. One of the characters (Brosia) supposedly is from Gingoog. hehe That's a new one for me, thanks mate!