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For the first time, a Seafood Festival will treat visitors and revelers along the shorelines of Villa Beach in Arevalo district, Iloilo City during the 40th Iloilo Paraw Regatta Festival highlights Feb. 18-19.

At least 10 restaurants have already confirmed to offer the best-tasting and specialty seafood cuisines for partygoers at the kiosks area fronting John B. Lacson Maritime Foundation University, said Dr. Ronald Sebastian, vice-chairman of Iloilo Paraw Regatta Foundation Inc. (IPRFI).

Mayor Jed Patrick E. Mabilog said the food fest showcases the city’s growing reputation as an ideal culinary destination in the country.

Villa Beach is famous for a wide array of beachfront seafood restaurants offering visitors a cool dining experience by the sea breeze.

The food fest is one of the special events of Paraw Regatta Festival which has been recognized the Best Sports Tourism Event in 2009 by the Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines.

This year’s edition will kick off with a formal opening program and presentation of official candidates of Miss Iloilo Paraw Regatta 2012 on Sunday Feb. 12 at 7pm at the Freedom Grandstand.

IPRFI chairman Manuel Villa, Jr. said the banner year of Paraw Regatta is expected to draw 50-70 participants to join the 30-kilometer race at Iloilo Strait which is considered the largest traditional sailing event in the Philippines and the longest-running in Asia.

Some 20 special events add color to the festivities including miniature paraw and slalom race, sail-and-body-painting, deep-sea fishing, rowing and paddling with dragon boat exhibitions at Iloilo River, jet ski competition, Sinamba sa Paraw Regatta cultural contest, Ms. Paraw Regatta, beach volleyball and football, Frisbee, skim boarding clinic, rapid chess tournament, fireworks display and beach parties.

Mabilog said the festival grows bigger through the years and continues to showcase the strong partnership of the government and private sectors in the conduct of developmental endeavors.

The city government works together and coordinates closely with IPRFI for the smooth and successful hosting of the sailing event with the support of Department of Tourism regional office and Iloilo Provincial Government.

This year’s theme “Sailing the Best Wind” stresses the Ilonggo seafaring skills in search for the perfect wind to swiftly maneuver their paraws from start to finish line.

The sailing contest is set during the third week of February when the winds are “not destructive but propellant” to the native sailboats, said Villa.