|The Iloilo Paraw Regatta|
|Written by Jonathan Grant|
Now on its 39th year, the Iloilo Paraw Regatta is the oldest traditional craft event in Asia, and the largest sailing event in the Philippines. The Iloilo Paraw Regatta Foundation currently organizes the activities, with leading support from the Iloilo City and Provincial Governments and the Department of Tourism, along with private sector donations.
Activities have been expanded to spread over a week. On the Saturday of the climactic weekend there is slalom racing on a course by the beach to facilitate crowd participation. On the Sunday, the thirty-kilometer distance race is sailed on a course in the Iloilo Strait, running up the coast of Panay and then down the coast of Guimaras, before returning to the finish at Villa Beach. Participant exposure to the events is in the tens of thousands.
The geophysical shape of the Iloilo Strait provides year round breezes. Thus the working sailboat still predominates. In these times of high fuel costs, and polluting oil spills, one can appreciate the simple ecology of the traditional paraw. Nevertheless, the skills needed to sail are far more complex.
The objective of the Regatta is to celebrate the skills of the paraw sailors, and bring a fiesta spirit into their lives. And with the colorful painted sails, this spirit is brought into the lives of participants and tourists as well.