Sailing the Balangay

Open to NUS students, teaching staff, and alumni, from all backgrounds.

Get involved in creative projects – writing, film-making, acting, theatre, music, etc. – that will aim to fathom the sea and the islands, people and nature, past and present. Our creative work will be presented at exhibitions and events at NUS Museum and Ateneo Art Gallery.

Our three boats. The balangay, the National Boat of the Philippines, belongs to a shared heritage of Austronesian maritime culture, which spread as far as Madagascar and Polynesia. Based on boats unearthed in Mindanao (the earliest 1,700 years old), several reconstructions of the balangay have been built by traditional craftsmen from the Sulu Archipelago, in collaboration with archaeologists. The boats sailed across the Philippines and beyond, including a 17-month voyage around Southeast Asia.

The people on the voyage will include the boat builders; the first Filipino team that climbed Mt. Everest, and later embarked on the balangay voyage across Southeast Asia, without engine or modern navigational technology; students from the NUS and the Ateneo de Manila University; teaching staff from the two universities, artists, writers, film-makers, and scholars working in various fields and media.

Our itinerary will depend on wind and weather; it may include coastal communities and historical fort-islands on and off Luzon, the little-visited Lubang Archipelago with its fishing villages, religious/mystical sites, and unspoiled environment, the large island of Mindoro, and small islands and coral gardens in the Verde Straits. Pre-voyage seafaring-themed tour of Manila, a mini-symposium at the Ayala Museum; camera and acting training/guidance.

If interested or have any questions, please email Dr. Jan Mrázek at — no commitment needed at this point, but we will provide you with more info when it becomes available. Selection of participants will take place around the end of October.


Organized by the Department of Southeast Asian Studies with support from the Provost’s Office, in collaboration with Ateneo de Manila University.