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July 16, 2010 marks another historical milestone for Butuan; this was the day the 3rd balangay boat was launched at Luna Compound, in Brgy. Bading, Butuan City. Spearheaded by Kaya ng Pinoy Foundation and the Butuan Global Forum, the festive event was attended by Butuan City Mayor Ferdinand Amante Jr., Congresswoman Angel Amante-Matba, Congressman Jose Aquino II, other local officials and stakeholders, students, and scores of well-wishers. Most Rev. Juan De Dios M. Pueblos D.D. and Father Amalla blessed the boat which officially hit the waters of the Agusan River at around 2PM amidst a jubilant crowd.
The boat, christened Sama Tawi-Tawi, was named for the Sama people of Tawi-Tawi, particularly in Sibutu, the last true bastion of the Badjao boat-builders. Sama people are renowned for their boat building craftsmanship, mastery of the waves and the wind; relying only on knowledge pass down from their forefathers, they still use ancient tools in boat constructions, without the need of a plan or a blueprint.
Constructed like a kumpit (trading and commercial boats of the Sulu Seas) and mainly of wood with only a steel underbelly, balangay Sama Tawi-Tawi is some 75 feet long, 15 feet wide and about 9 feet tall. Unlike the first two balangays, she has an 85hp diesel marine engine, sleeping quarters, kitchen, a bridge, enlarge storage bunks and 2 toilets. Like the balangays, Sama Tawi-Tawi has a mast near the bow for her to unfurl the colorful vinta-like sails that has become a symbol of the seafaring people of Mindanao.
The boat will mainly function as a supply and support vessel for the other two balangays as the group journeys out to Southeast Asia; a voyage that will take them from Malaysia, to Brunei, Vietnam, and finally Shanghai, China in time to participate in the 2010 World Expo.
"We want the balangays to not only be the source of unity for the country but also as a source of unity for the whole of Asia," said Art Valdez, team leader for The Voyage of the Balangay.
Balangays Diwata ng Lahi and Masawa hong Butuan are currently docked in Zamboanga City awaiting the arrival of balangay Sama Tawi-Tawi. The three boat flotilla will set sail towards Tawi-Tawi on July 30 for the start of their Southeast Asia voyage.