The Paraw Regatta Festival: A Sailing Spectacle and a Cultural Celebration
The Philippines is a country with diverse cultures and traditions, and one of the most spectacular and festive events that showcases its history and heritage is the Paraw Regatta Festival. The Paraw Regatta Festival is an annual festival that takes place every third weekend of February in the Villa de Arevalo district, Iloilo City, Philippines. The festival features a sailboat race in the Iloilo Strait that features the paraw, a Visayan double-outrigger sail boat. It is the oldest traditional craft event in Asia, and the largest sailing event in the Philippines. It is also one of Iloilo City’s tourism events along with the Dinagyang Festival, Kasadyahan Festival, Chinese New Year festival and La Candelaria Fiesta.
The word “paraw” comes from the Visayan word “parao”, which means boat or vessel. The paraw is a type of sailboat that originated from the central part of the Philippines, where it was used for fishing, trading, and transportation. The paraw has two outriggers or katig that provide stability and balance to the boat. It also has two sails or layag that are made of cloth, woven mats, or canvas. The sails can be adjusted to catch the wind from different directions. The paraw can carry up to 20 people and can travel up to 30 kilometers per hour.
The Paraw Regatta Festival traces its roots back to 1973, when a group of local enthusiasts organized a half-day sailboat race to preserve the historic value of the paraws and promote Iloilo as a tourist destination. The first race had only 12 participants and was held in front of Fort San Pedro, a Spanish colonial fort in Iloilo City. The race was later moved to Villa Beach, where it is still held today.
The festival has since grown into a multi-day, multi-event festival that attracts thousands of spectators and participants from all over the country and abroad. The main event is the paraw race, which covers a 30-kilometer course along the coast of Panay and Guimaras islands. The race is divided into two categories based on the waterline length of the paraws: 16 feet and below (traditional) and 16 feet 1 inch to 22 feet (modified). The paraws are further classified according to their sails as unpainted or painted. The painted sails are decorated with colorful designs that reflect the theme or personality of the owner or sponsor.
Aside from the paraw race, the festival also features various side events that showcase the culture and creativity of Iloilo City, such as:
• Paraw Slalom: A race where paraws maneuver through a series of buoys in a zigzag pattern.
• Miss Iloilo Paraw Regatta: A beauty pageant where candidates wear costumes inspired by paraws or Iloilo culture.
• Pinta de Layag Competition: A contest where artists paint designs on paraw sails using various materials and techniques.
• Pinta Tawo Competition: A contest where body painters paint designs on human models using various materials and techniques.
• Miniature Paraw Race: A race where children compete using small-scale models of paraws.
• Rowing and Paddling Competition: A race where teams compete using rowboats or paddle boats.
• Governor’s Cup Fishing Competition: A fishing contest where anglers compete for the biggest catch using traditional or modern methods.
• Samba de Regatta: A dance party where performers showcase their samba skills while wearing colorful costumes.
• Beach Football Tournament: A football tournament where teams compete on a sand court.
• Beach Volleyball Tournament: A volleyball tournament where teams compete on a sand court.
• Beach Ultimate Frisbee Tournament: A frisbee tournament where teams compete on a sand court.
The Paraw Regatta Festival is not only a celebration of sailing and fun, but also a celebration of culture and heritage. It is a way of preserving and promoting the traditions and values of Iloilo City and its people. It is also a way of showcasing the beauty and diversity of the Philippines.