a Gifted Log for a bangka (outrigger canoe)

June 8, 2012, Baclayon, Bohol, Pilipinas

It has been eight years since my last visit to the islands. I am back in the  island of Bohol with inquiring heart and mind, empowerment vision of canoes in the waterways with singers and dancers to heal and protect our Mother Earth, a medicine dream team. Envisioning Pilipino/ Fil-Am contingent to pull from the San Francisco Bay Area from California!! Plan to be at the future canoe journeys in the pacific northwest, dreams of singing and dancing in the bangkas of the San Francisco Bay Area waterways…

Filipino Canoe Log

Photo from Alexis Canillo.  the Filipino-Pomo canoe that will join the Tribal Journey of canoes in the Pacific Northwest. The log was gifted by artist/activist L. Frank Manriquez via support from The Cultural Conservancy (http://www.nativeland.org/)

build a bangka (double sided outrigger canoe) / bigiw (single side outrigger canoe) from a log gifted to represent Filipinos, find a local skipper, build a bangka family for support, pullers to train and practice, raise awareness and educate about the islands’ diverse cultures among indigenous peoples of the turtle island. But first, start with my roots, the seafaring Bisayans. What are our traditions, prayers and chants for building, launching, welcoming, being in the canoe paddling on the water? This is a quest.

A Bangka Journey Begins

Swinomish Canoe Journey with Holly Calica

Notes from Paddle to Swinomish, Canoe Journey 2011; photo of beautiful art by an unknown artist, photo taken at the Paddle to Swinomish Canoe Journey 2011, author (L) with Holly Calica (R)

Theme: Loving, Caring and Sharing

26 July 2011 

During a reunion at the Seattle FANHS’s 2010 conference (Filipino American National Historical Society), an invite came from a college-friend, Shelly Vendiola and her mom, Diane Vendiola, proud Indi-pinays (Swinomish-Bisayan), to participate/volunteer with the Protect Mother Earth Task Force as they celebrate and host for the first time in the annual Northwest coast tribal canoe journey. It was my first time attending this event and an honor to be part of it. Amazed by the community building I observed. In one canoe family, the youngest in the canoe was 3-years-old and elder included in another, the farthest traveler south were Chumash from Santa Barbara, as far as North Alaska, and folks from the East Coast (New York) and a two men from an Amazon tribe from Brazil representing, too. Awesome-filled experience. Protocol day 1 of 5 to start today. Hay’lacheska to the Vendiolas and the Swinomish people. I am deeply honored and blessed to have this opportunity. Daghang salamat po. Mabuhay!  At the tail end of the California Natives, the Chumash protocolI met Dr. Darryl Babe Wilson, whom i call Lolo Babe. Later, we gathered at a healing circle. It was an exciting and electric moment. Hay’dut’sila – a seed has been planted.

Day 5 of Paddle to Swinomish 2011

Right after the Swinomish took the floor for protocol, a dialogue ensued with Master Carver Philip H. Red Eagle, one of the co-founders of the  canoe journey movement in the state of Washington. He asked: “Where is the Filipino canoe?” Instantly, my thoughts were: “Well, they are back home (referring to the homeland, the islands of the Republic of the Philippines).” But instead I replied, “We are working on it.”


Post-canoe journey:

I prayed. I dreamt of pintados and majestic giant crystalline horses in the waters of the San Francisco Bay. As I learned more about native spirituality and my own growth within, I am inspired to learn more about our seafaring traditions. Lolo Babe encourages Enunja Ti Taninmiji Hataji (Baby Girl with a Rainbow in her heart) to “learn about the dream that caused the canoe to appear, learn the song the canoe-maker sang, Build a big canoe from rainbows and teach it to all who will listen. spread the dream.  “