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“The Oldest Traditional Craft Event in Asia” and “The Largest Sailing Event in the Philippines,” the 40th Iloilo Paraw Regatta Festival unfurls Feb. 12-19 and makes splashes and waves at Villa Beach, Arevalo district, Iloilo City.

The native sailboat race is recognized as the country’s Best Sports Tourism Event in 2009 by the Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines.

The Iloilo Paraw Regatta is truly an Ilonggo Event. It is Iloilo’s original Festival. It is history, culture, tradition, arts, sportsmanship and the world-renowned Ilonggo Seamanship.

In 1973, the Department of Tourism Region VI together with the City of Iloilo, the Municipality of Oton in Iloilo Province, the municipalities of Jordan & Buenavista in  Guimaras Province first organized an event which was then known as the Iloilo-Guimaras Paraw Regatta.

It was widely welcomed by all sectors of the community and  the event was readily assisted  with the full cooperation of a host of other governmental agencies such as the Philippine Coast Guard,  and non-governmental agencies and civic organizations such as the Philippine National Red Cross – Iloilo Chapter and the various Rotary Clubs in Iloilo. The private sector also enthusiastically sponsored the event such as the Negros Navigation Co. Inc and the various local media outfits.

Since then, the Iloilo Paraw Regatta has grown in size and renown!

The Iloilo Paraw Regatta is a race among native outriggers in the Strait between the island Province of Guimaras and Iloilo City. It was inspired by history which dates back in 1212 A.D. The native outrigger which is called  a “Paraw” in the local Ilonggo dialect is a faithful reproduction in design and materials of the sailboats that carried to Panay Island the first Bornean settlers who were in search of a peaceful home.

The sailboats since then survived the centuries and became a vital part of the Ilonggo culture and tradition in the seafaring life!

Every year hundreds of thousands line the beaches and shorelines of the 36.5-kilometer race route to witness the main event,– the paraw race which starts from Tatoy’s Manokan in Villa Beach, Iloilo City all the way to Sto. Rosario, Buenavista, Guimaras and back to Tatoy’s Manokan.  The exciting event is participated by skilled fisher folks and sailing enthusiasts not only from the Province of Iloilo and Guimaras and nearby provinces in Panay Island but all over the country as well.

The Iloilo Paraw Regatta has undergone dramatic transformations through the years since 1973. From its humble beginnings, the race which was a simple visual manifestation of  Ilonggo expertise in the field of seafaring has inspired the various sectors of the community to integrate and further showcase the various aspects of Ilonggo excellence.

Thus, the Iloilo Paraw Regatta has metamorphosed into a full-blown Festival incorporating Ilonggo excellence and ingenuity in various fields such as the visual arts, dance, music, culinary expressions and other interests.

Previously, three (3) LGU’s namely the Provincial Governments of Iloilo & Guimaras and the City Government of Iloilo take yearly turns in managing the event. After several years the festival has not developed consistently as the 3 various LGU’s had different approaches in the yearly event management.

Thus, in 2005 it was agreed that a private entity shall manage the affairs of the festival and the Iloilo Paraw Regatta Foundation, Inc. (IPRFI) was born.