Bill declares balangay as Philippine national boat

THE House of Representatives approved on third and final reading a bill seeking to declare the balangay, otherwise known as the Butuan Boat, as the national boat of the Philippines.

House Bill (HB) No. 7070 is authored by Agusan del Norte Rep. Lawrence Lemuel Fortun and Cebu Rep. Ramon Durano IV. It is based on HB No. 986 of Fortun.

“The Balangay, otherwise known as the Butuan Boat including all similar boats that may be discovered later elsewhere in the country, is hereby declared as the National Boat of the Philippines,” the measure states.

In the explanatory note of HB No. 986, which was the basis of 7070, Fortun said that the Balangay was the first-ever wooden watercraft to be excavated in Southeast Asia, demonstrating early Filipino boat-building skill and seamanship expertise during the pre-colonial times.

Fortun also explained that the Butuan Boat, found only in the Philippines where a flotilla of such ancient boats exists, was used by Filipino ancestors to maintain trade relations with neighboring islands around the country and empire around Southeast Asia.

This extensive use of the Balangay for trade confirms that Filipino ancestors were actively involved in the robust commercial activities in Asia as early as the 10th and 11th centuries.

Fortun said the Balangay, from which the word barangay is derived, is a symbol of the Filipino community’s character of unity, cooperation, determination and resilience.

“As demonstrated by our ancestors, building a Balangay and sailing it in the high seas entail solidarity and harmony among boat builders and seafarers. It is for this reason that it is now used by the Philippine Government as a term to refer to the smallest political unit, now popularly known as the barangay,” he said.

Fortun said that the Balangay deserves its rightful place not only in museums but also in the consciousness of every Filipino. “By declaring it as the county’s national boat, the nation ensures that future generations of Filipinos will recognize the vital contribution of pre-colonial ancestors in shaping the country’s maritime tradition. It would also pass down the values of solidarity, harmony, determination, courage and bravery,” he said.

“The Balangay is a source of true national pride that should not be forgotten. It is time to formally include it in our roster of national symbols,” said Fortun.18lack