Efforts were moved towards restoring the old glory of the famed Villa Beach as Iloilo City’s major summer destination, particularly by the Sto. Niño Sur Villa Beach Resorts, Hotels and Resto Bars Association.

Villa Beach is popularly known among tourists because of seafood restaurants offering by-the-sea dining ambience.

However, informal settlers sprouting like mushrooms in the area through time have changed the scenery the city’s former top tourism attraction.

With the hosting of the 3rd Wow Villa Summer Beach Festival May 6-12, 2005 local stakeholders aimed to revive the city’s shoreline tourism industry. The activity kicked off with a clean-up drive.

“We are promoting not only the shorelines but the whole of Arevalo to bring back its image as the tourism center of the city,” said Mohon village chief (now councilor) Lyndon Acap, former vice-president of Association of Barangay Captains (ABC-Arevalo).

They envisioned the 1.5-kilometer Villa Beach area into a “Boracay-like” structure with three piers offering lechon and grilled cuisines, talaba and restaurant bars, said Jun Tajanlangit, owner of Villa Bora.

Pier 1 covers the stretch from Breakthrough to Tatoy’s; Pier 2 from Tatoy’s to Eging’s Talabahan; and Pier 3 from Annie’s Talabahan to John B. Lacson campus area.

The John B. Lacson Foundation Maritime University (JBLFMU), in line with its community service project, has tied up with the Philippine Coast Guard Auxiliary (PCGA) to establish a pioneer 30-man “baywatch team,” of first generation rescuers, the first of its kind in the country.

“Villa Beach is considered as the best place to swim and favorite bonding haven for families. It is overcrowded during summer weekends but the night life has been down when there are no classes. We encourage the people to go back to the beach,” said Tajanlangit.

“We are also trying to raise extra funds for the environment because it entails expenses to clean up the beach,” Tajanlangit added.

Tajanlangit said they solicited support of various sponsors including the City government, Department of Tourism (DOT-6), media and private sector.

Sam Larroza, president of the Villa Beach association composed of 30 establishments, said the festival was bigger as they prepared more events.

The weeklong festivities showcased fluvial parade, beach volleyball, nightly food festivals with live bands, disco derby, beauty search, samba tribes contest, marathon, trisikad race, mini paraw race, battle of the bands, sand-art contest, videoke challenge, rowing, beach football, talaba festival, rock-climbing, bangka race, jetski clinic and national jetski competition, swimming tilt, fireworks competition, variety show and bikini open contest.

This modified story first appeared in The Guardian Iloilo May 8, 2005