PAL Foundation

A sail for the nation

From conquering the peaks of Mt. Everest to braving the unpredictable waters of South China Sea, Filipinos have once again proven their resiliency.


Last summer, a group of more than 30 Filipino volunteers embarked on an epic journey to Xiamen, China by traversing the waters of the South China Sea using three wooden balangays, a replica of an ancient Philippine marine watercraft.


The team, led by Arturo “Art” Valdez, a former undersecretary of then Department of Transportation and Communications and Department of Environment and Natural Resources and president of Kaya ng Pinoy Foundation, sailed a total of 2,700 nautical miles, arriving back in Manila after 25 days of expedition.

No stranger to triumphs of the human spirit, the Kaya ng Pinoy Foundation is a non-government organization that aims to promote the unique prowess and courage of the Filipino race. In 2006 and 2007, the Foundation conquered Mt. Everest by sending select members to climb the highest peak on earth, a historic feat for the Filipino.


The Balangay expedition re-enacts the 600 year-old voyage of Sultan Paduka Batara, a king of Sulu in the 1400s, who visited the emperor of China using the ancient watercraft, an evidence of early Filipino craftsmanship and seamanship skills during pre-colonial times.


For Feng Xu, one of the expedition members, reaching the shores of Xiamen was no easy feat.“There were instances we had to suspend the voyage due to changing weather and other sail requirements as we have to prioritize the safety of the crew. From the construction and maintenance of the boats, to logistical and safety requirements, the crew exerted great efforts and sacrifices for this journey,”he shares.


Despite the challenges, the team was able to overcome. Their physical strength, rigorous training and indomitable spirit helped them endure difficulties as they plowed on to their ultimate destination. Their advocacy kept them going. 


“I have chosen this as a medium to stir awareness and to inspire the young generations that they can do anything. Filipinos can do anything they want if they put their acts and focus their minds on it. A nation that does not produce dreamers, adventurers, trailblazers, discoverers, explorers can never be a great nation. Nations are built out of dreams,” stresses Valdez.


He also believes that the triumphant voyage of the balangays symbolizes the unity of the Filipino people. “We are all aboard in one ship. We will work together to sail the waters and safely reach the next port,” Valdez adds. 

 Philippine Airlines is a proud sponsor of Balangay’s historic voyage.