Carina Dayondon plays with her pet dog aboard a wooden boat known as balangay in this photo taken last month. Photo: AFP
Photo shows a traditional Philippine wooden boat known as ‘balangay’ sailing recently in Manila Bay. After conquering Mt. Everest, Filipina adventurer Carina Dayondon is set to sail to China aboard a wooden replica of an ancient boat in the hopes of boosting national pride in a forgotten maritime prowess. She plans to sail from Manila to southern China in 2018, recreating trade and migration voyages made before Spaniards colonized the Philippines in the 1500's.Photo: AFP
Manila, Philippines — After conquering Mt. Everest, Filipina adventurer Carina Dayondon is set to sail to China aboard a wooden replica of an ancient boat in the hopes of boosting national pride in a forgotten maritime prowess.
Dayondon is planning to sail from Manila to southern China early next year, recreating trade and migration voyages made before Spaniards colonized the Philippines in the 1500s.
“People tell me I am crazy. They ask: ‘Wow, why climb Everest? Why go to China on this tiny thing,’” Dayondon told AFP in Manila Bay aboard one of the two boats that will make the expected six-day sailing journey.
“I’m excited because our team will be more inspired realizing how good our forefathers were. We have to let people know we should be proud of being Filipino,” the 39-year-old added.
Dayondon, a petite but muscular coast guard officer, created history in 2007 when she and two other countrywomen became the first Filipinas to summit the world’s highest mountain.
Arturo Valdez, who led their Everest support team, is also heading the sailing mission and similarly sees the journey to China as a chance to inspire Filipinos.
“Like Mt. Everest, I want this to be symbolic of what our people can accomplish, of what can be possible out of the so-called impossible,” the 69-year-old said.
The vessels are copies of a balangay, which date back as far as 320 AD.
“Early trade with China and Southeast Asia was made possible by watercraft,” Ligaya Lacsina, researcher at the National Museum’s maritime division, told AFP.
“Europeans during the colonial period were effusive in their praise of Southeast Asian boat-building skill. But somehow we’ve paid very little attention to this.”
Tribal boat-builders from the southern Philippines, where the boats originated, made the replicas of the balangay using skills passed on down the generations.
The boats, 18 meters (60 feet) long by three meters (10 feet) wide, are made of hardwood planks, include two sails, two rudders and a roofed area.
Their journey to the southeastern Chinese city of Quanzhou will be about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles), and the crewmembers are aiming to do it with as little modern technical help as possible.
“We have no night-sailing capability so we can be run over by a super tanker. That’s my fear. The greatest difficulty of replicating an ancient voyage is modernity because there are new port protocols,” Valdez said.
“This kind of boat is being treated as a maritime hazard.”
Daily life aboard the boat is a struggle, according to Dayondon.
“We sleep anywhere because we don’t have quarters. We have no toilet. We just hold the rope and use a harness and do the proper position so we don’t fall,” she said.
Nevertheless, a third boat with a motor will accompany the balangays, otherwise they will not be allowed into Chinese ports.
Their trip is planned to commemorate a journey made about 600 years ago by a sultan from the southern island of Sulu who went to China to pay tribute to Ming Dynasty rulers there but who died of an illness on his way home.