Paraw Regatta off limits to ‘epal’ politicos

47th Iloilo-Guimaras Paraw Regatta Slalom Competition on on Wednesday, Feb 13 at Villa Beach, Arevalo, Iloilo City. Paraw Regatta Slalom Competition is a short course race, approximately about 3 km, that seeks to test the seamanship of the crew in handling and maneuvering the Paraw under all wind and wave conditions in a preset course. IAN PAUL CORDERO

ILOILO City – Everybody is welcome to witness Paraw Regatta tomorrow, even politicians but they would be barred from making speeches, according to the Iloilo Paraw Regatta Foundation, Inc. (IPRFI).

Paraw Regatta is a 36.5-kilometer race among native outriggers called paraw in the Iloilo Strait between the island province of Guimaras and this city.

The opening program tomorrow morning is on the shores of Arevalo district here facing Guimaras.

Only chairs, not microphones, would be provided for midterm election candidates who would be showing up, said IPRFI president Ronald Sebastian.

“There will be no space for politics. Damu man na sila tsansa nga ihayag ang ila gusto but this regatta is for the community,” he stressed.

The only politician who would be allowed to speak is Mayor Jose Espinosa III but he is expected to welcome visitors and spectators, not campaign for his reelection.

Espinosa’s election rival, Cong. Jerry Treñas, has also been invited to the program, said Sebastian.

Paraw Regatta is considered the oldest “traditional craft event” in Asia and the largest sailing event in the Philippines.

Barring politicians from hijacking Paraw Regatta was inspired by a similar policy imposed during last month’s Dinagyang Festival. “Epals” were not welcome.

“Epal” is a Filipino slang for an annoying, unabashed person.

“Dinagyang revelers are here to enjoy the festival minus the political circus and campaign discourses,” said Ramon Cua-Locsin, president of the Iloilo Dinagyang Foundation, Inc.

Paraw Regatta was established more than four decades ago primarily to preserve the paraw as a significant link to the earliest period of Ilonggo history.

The paraw is a small boat with two stabilizers and was widely used for travel and trade in the 1200s. Up to this day, it is still being used as a means of transport as well a source of livelihood.

The paraw is a strikingly fast boat, making 20 to 30 kph through the waves.  It was the prototype that inspired Westerners to develop the trimaran, the fastest sailboats now on the planet.

Paraw Regatta was conceived to remind the Ilonggos of this precious heritage and as an addition to the booming tourism industry of Iloilo City and the island province of Guimaras.

According to City Tourism and Development Office head Junel Ann Divinagracia, they expect a 10 to 15 percent surge in tourist arrivals because of the Paraw Regatta./PN


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