Tag Archives: Philippine politics

#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!

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#191 Balimbing

Balimbing (Carambola or starfruit, botanical name ‘Averrhoa carambola’) is a tropical fruit found in many Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka.

In the Philippines, the balimbing has earned an iconic status and the noun ‘balimbing’ in Filipino also refers to the political Janus Face, the “turncoat” or “many-faced’ whose loyalties are dubious. The fruit has five angles or points and when sliced a cross-section looks like a star, hence the name star fruit.

Balimbing as a fruit is versatile and serves as a tasty garnish to salads and snazzy fruit cocktails, and could also be used in jams and fruit preserves. It is best to consume balimbing when ripe. An unripe fruit will appear green, while a ripe one has bright yellow with a light shade of green. An overripe fruit will appear yellow with brown spots. In the US balimbing is called carambola, while in India the fruit is called kamranga or kamrakh.

Mabuhay ang balimbing (not the political species)!

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