Tag Archives: Philippine boat-building

#304 Balanghai

Remnants of a balanghai exhibited in Butuan

The balanghai is a large boat used by Malay settlers of the Philippines in pre-Hispanic times. The vessel, first excavated in Butuan province in Mindanao, was about 18 meters in length and could carry a small clan or a large family.

Since the 10th century, Butuan appeared to have good relations with the Srivijayan Empire. Balanghais often docked in Butuan Bay and the shipping route has stimulated  business between the local people of Butuan and traders from the neighboring empire. The balanghais were first excavated in the 1970s and carbon-dating showed that the boats were almost a thousand years old.

Building a  balanghai requires teamwork and the word balanghai later on evolved into the word ‘barangay,’ which us the smallest politica (grassroots) unit in the Philippines.  The balanghais, thus, did not  just denote a wooden boat but also stood as a symbol for social unit (Source: My Secret Philippines blog and other sources).

Mabuhay ang balanghai!

1 Comment

Filed under Arts and Culture, Places, Traditions