February 4, 2011 marks another milestone of Butuan’s rich history – the Homecoming of the Balangay Masawa Hong Butuan. The ancient boat is finally back to its homeland at its maiden voyage last January 31, 2010 at theCompound at Brgy. Bading, Butuan City. She was escorted together by Balangay Sama Tawi-tawi along with the Balangay Team crew and its expedition leader – Art Valdez. The Balangay Masawa Hong Butuan (Masawa of Butuan) is built together by the efforts of the private sector coming from Butuan Global Forum and Butuan Historical Foundation. It is the second boat and the biggest of the three balangays. On the very same day, it shall be turned over to the City Government of Butuan.
The epic Voyage of the Balangay have caught the global attention and spurred the Filipino’s pride across the world. Below is the Route Highlights across its journey towards Southeast Asia. 1. September 1, 2009. Balangay “Diwata ng Lahi” left CCP Complex, Manila to start the Voyage of the Balangay. 2.February 4, 2010. Balangays “Masawa Hong Butuan” and “Diwata ng Lahi” left Butuan City to continue the Voyage of the Balangay around Mindanao and Southeast Asia. 3. July 22, 2010. Balangay “Sama Tawi-Tawi” left Butuan City to rendezvous with Balangay “Masawa Hong Butuan” and Balangay “Diwata ng Lahi” in Zamboanga City. 4. August 1, 2010. The three balangays left Paseo del Mar, Zamboanga City for travel to Sulu and Tawi-Tawi before crossing international waters towards Sabah, Malaysia. 5. August 15, 2010. The balangay flotilla crossed international waters from Turtle Islands, Tawi-Tawi and arrived in Sandakan, Sabah Malaysia, its 81st port of call and 1st in international voyage. 6. October 26, 2010. The balangay flotilla left Sihanoukville, Cambodia for the return trip to the Philippines after traveling around Southeast Asia. Sihanoukville is the 101st port of call and 21st in international voyage. Countries visited: Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia and the waters of Vietnam. 7. November 16, 2010. The balangay flotilla re-entered Philippine waters from Pulau Banggi, Malaysia to Balabac, Palawan. 8. December 13, 2010. The balangay flotilla reached CCP Complex, Manila after more than 15 months of sailing around the Philippines and Southeast Asia. 9. January 21, 2011. Balangay “Masawa Hong Butuan” begins the journey home to Butuan City from CCP Complex, Manila, escorted by Balangay “Sama Tawi-Tawi”.
The historic event was captured through the lenses of talented photographers like Dr.Jose Villanueva, Jovic Lacuin and other City Tourism photogs. With the current calamity and tragic events that befallen Butuan City the last few days, this one event shed some light and pride to all Butuanons under uneasy times.