Iloilo City Events

Iloilo Paraw Regatta

Iloilo Paraw Regatta: The Iloilo Paraw Regatta Festival is an annual festival held in Iloilo City, particularly in the District of Villa de Arevalo. It highlights the ‘paraw’, a Visayan double-outrigger sailboat. The event is considered one of the oldest craft events in Asia, and the largest sailing event in the Philippines.

According to the Iloilo City Government website, the Paraw race course is 30 kilometers long, running up the coast of Panay and then down the coast of Guimaras, before returning to Villa Beach. Participating paraws are categorized based on the waterline length of the boat and classified according to whether sails were painted or unpainted.

“The Ilonggos take great pride in the celebration of a long and illustrious history, and, as such, so do the sailors and master craftsmen that continue the preservation of the old ways since the creation of this province, and its Hiligaynon birthright,” excerpts from the Iloilo City Government website.

The first race was in 1973.

Early Visayans were known to be master boat-builders even before the coming of the Spaniards. This craftsmanship is attributed to the country’s archipelagic nature, rich marine water, and lush forests that were abundant sources of timbers.

The term ‘baroto’ or ‘bangka’ generally refers to every type of boat in Western Visayas. However, this sea vessel is also referred to as paraw, balanra, subiran, and tanggo in other parts of the Visayas. As observed by Spanish chroniclers like Colin, Loarca, and Morga, early Visayans, particularly the inhabitants of Panay, were expert boat-builders. They made boats for fishing, travelling, wars, commerce or trading, and other activities.

Different types of boats were built according to its purpose. For instance, baroto is for fishing or travelling; batil is for transporting passengers as well as agricultural products like rice, corn, etc.; paraw are vessels with decorative edges powered by sails; bilo is used in ferrying goods, and has a small rectangular sail.

Another popular sea vessel is the “balangay” which was described by chronicler Jean Mallat as “very big, very light, and fast-sailing.” The balangay or barangay was made of wooden planks put together by wooden nails, and sailed using sails or paddles.

Another Spanish friar-chronicler Fr. Francisco Alcina noted another Visayan larger type of boat called karakoa. The karakoa resembled the brigantines of Spain, and was considered suitable for war.

Meanwhile, to celebrate the Ilonggo craftsmanship in boat-building, the Paraw Regatta Festival is celebrated in Iloilo every February. Expert boat-builders show-off their beautiful paraw to the public, and the coast of Arevalo district is turned into a beautiful canvas with colorful paraws lining the beach, with the sea and sun as backdrop.

Words by Merlyn F. Geromiano | NMWV
National Museum of the Philippines (2021)

Paraw Regatta 2024

All is set for Paraw Regatta 2024. The Iloilo City Government, in partnership with the Iloilo Festival Foundations Inc., announced that the celebration will officially open on February 25, with event highlights from March 01 to 03, 2024.

Events include Sinamba sa Regatta, Pinta Layag. Pinta Regatta, Slalom Race, Paraw Foodfest, Beach Volleyball Tournament, Frisbee Tournament, Paraw Aquathlon, Paraw High-Intensity Interval Training, Pinta Tawo, Paraw Beach Bodies, Lighted Paraw Display, and Fireworks Display, among others.

Its main event is the Paraw Main Race.

According to Dr Roberto Somoso, Chairman of the Paraw Sailing Event, participants in the sailing competition hail as far as Boracay, as well as neighboring towns in Iloilo and Guimaras. He also shared that last year’s participants were 48.

Another highlight is the Paraw Lechon Contest, open to all lechon baboy makers, and is set to happen on March 03. Moreover, majority of the events will be at Tatoy’s Beach Front.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.