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Battered by huge waves caused by the northeast monsoon, the 11-day journey of balangays Masawa hong Butuan and Sama Tawi-Tawi from Manila finally came to a close on January 31st as the boats docked at a swollen Agusan River in Brgy. Bading, Butuan City.
Under a state of calamity due to massive flooding from continuous rains, Butuanons nevertheless came out in full force to welcome the return of Butuan’s pride – balangay Masawa hong Butuan.
Festivities begun with performances from the tribal dance group bangKA in their colorful native costumes at a makeshift bamboo stage. Each groups of the balangay crew was presented to the public with a ceremonial strike of a gong. An interfaith prayer follows with religious leaders giving thanks for the safe return of the crew and the boats. Dance performances were also rendered by students from the Agusan schools as native delicacies were served to the delight of the crew.
Mayor Ferdinand Amante Jr. spoke proudly of the accomplishments of the balangay team in reanimating the spirit of the Butuanon people; while Expedition Leader Art Valdez encouraged the people to rise up to the challenges and reflect on the essence of the balangay boats for a sustainable progress and development of the whole Agusan region.
Honorary Butuanon was bestowed to each member of the crew as well as an Award of Merit by the Mayor and the City Council.
Finally, balangay Masawa hong Butuan was officially turn-over to members of the Butuan Global Forum who vowed to refurnish the balangay boat and use it as a living relic to further educate and give pride to a once proud heritage.