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Project Saysay aboard the replicas of ancient Balangays

The balangay Sultan sin Sulu, the first of the three balangays to sail from her birthplace in Maimbung, Sulu. Photo by Fung Yu.

Baon is a Filipino word for something taken on a journey; and it is typical to us Filipinos that whenever we travel, we bring along with us things which our loved ones have prepared or we ourselves have packed or simply valued. Even lessons and memories worth cherishing can be called baon. The word may signify departure yet it still carries with it the idea of connection: reminding us of where we came from and those whom we have left.

That wisdom in the word baon is the inspiration behind the collaboration between Project Saysay and Kaya ng Pinoy: Baon ng mga Balangay (Items of the Balangays). Kaya ng Pinoy’s balangays Sultan sin Sulu, Lahi ng Maharlika, and Sama Tawi-Tawi have begun sailing on 9 May 2017 in a mission to relive the 600 years of diplomatic connection of our ancestors from Sulu with ancient China. With the Baon ng mga Balangay initiative, the balangays will literally become the “vessels of Filipino heritage” and at the same time “vessels of goodwill.”

The Baon ng mga Balangay is comprised of the historically and culturally significant items identified by Project Saysay, to be loaded in the balangays on 27 May 2017 in Manila. The items are representatives of the Filipino heritage, along with letters sent in electronically and tangibly to Project Saysay by public from different parts of the country.

The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) signified its support to the initiative. The agency will send books and a bust of Jose Rizal for the Philippine Consulate in Hong Kong. Mama Sita’s, likewise, will send its new cook book and will provide food provisions to all the crews of the three balangays.

Project Saysay Logistics Director Paul Bero will represent the advocacy in the expedition up to Poro Point.

The main objective of Baon ng mga Balangay is to load the balangays Sultan sin Sulu, Lahi ng Maharlika, and Sama Tawi-Tawi with cultural, historical, and social items. Its specific objectives are:

  • Form a group of relics of the voyage of Sultan sin Sulu, Lahi ng Maharlika, and Sama Tawi-Tawi

  • Reconnect the humble beginnings of the National Flag to its birthplace, Hong Kong, in celebration of the National Flag Day on 28 May 2017

  • Engage the public in the reliving of the past by sending in their wishes and messages to form a part of the relics of the balangays

Kaya ng Pinoy will deliver the Philippine Flag to its birthplace in Hong Kong and expected to be hoisted there.

All items, including the flag, will be returned by Kaya ng Pinoy to Manila in June 2017.

Project Saysay will upload the details of the items aboard the balangays on its website.

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