ILOILO City – Celebrating the Paraw Regatta Festival is one way to preserve the local seafaring culture, according to Dr. Ronald Raymund Sebastian, president of Iloilo Paraw Regatta Foundation, Inc.
“Halin sang una may skill kita sa seafaring. Ang kultura kag tradisyon naton in terms of seafaring dugay na. We want to preserve that,” Sebastian said during the Feb. 11 opening program of the festival dubbed as the biggest sailing event in the country and the oldest of its kind in Asia.
The Paraw Regatta Festival – now on its 47th year – features a series of activities centered on the local seafaring tradition.
Among its activities is the Bangkarera – a portmanteau of the Hiligaynon words bangka (boat) and karera (race). It is a race of boats without sails, unlike the traditional Paraw Regatta that features paraws, or small double-outrigger sailboats.
There was also a parade of lighted boats, the Sinamba sa Regatta, a miniature paraw race, live band performances, and the Miss Paraw Regatta 2019 pageant.
The main sailing event – the highlight of the celebration – is set today. Feb. 17.
According to Sebastian, the Paraw Regatta Festival started in Guimaras. He added that participants in the main sailing event are mostly Guimarasnons.
Mayor Ruben Corpuz of Jordan, Guimaras vowed support for the festival during its opening last week.
“Sige-sigehon naton ini kay para madumduman naton ang culture kag history sang Paraw Regatta nga naghalin sa probinsiya sang Guimaras,” Corpuz said.
The festival fuels the tourism industry in the island province, according to Gov. Samuel Gumarin.
“The festival is a tool nga ginagamit sang probinsiya kag sang Iloilo nga maka-entice kita sang tourists. Naga-encourage kita nga magkadto diri ang mga turista, local kag foreign,” said Gumarin.
He added: “Ang sailing between Panay and Guimaras nangin isa man ini sa palaagyan sang amon komersiyo. Indi lang ina passion sang Guimarasnon. Amo ina ang nag-ugat sang pagsugod sang maayo nga palangitan-an sang Guimaras kag nangin parte sang amon pagpangabuhi.”
Meanwhile, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said environmental protection is also a vital aspect of the celebration.
DOT Region 6 director Atty. Helen Catalbas said beyond the flair and fun of the event, locals should not forget their responsibility to protect the environment.
“Paminsaron gid naton nga sadyahon naton ini pero indi gid naton pagkalipatan nga dapat may obligasyon kita sa aton nga environment,” Catalbas stressed.
The regional tourism chief added that sustainable development must be integrated in the activities.
She said events like Paraw Regatta should be an avenue to raise awareness on environmental preservation.
“Kinahanglan nga sustainable ang aton nga mga events kag himuon naton nga alagyan ang aton mga events para nga tatapon naton ang aton palibot. Let us be vigilant. Indi lamang ini ubra sang gobyerno kundi ubra ini sang komunidad nga bantayan gid ang aton palibot,” Catalbas added. (With reports from Guimaras PIO/PN)