They are more than just sandcastles.

If you were amazed by Boracay sandcastles before – though you won’t see one anymore because it was banned in the island paradise – now you will see more of giant sand sculptures in Villa Beach on Sunday April 29 starting 6AM – 1PM.

The 18th Porma Balas (sandsculpting) – The 2012 Iloilo Sand Sculpture Competition will once again sizzle along Villa shorelines courtesy of organizer Rotaract Club of Iloilo City.

Some 10 groups of sculptures, artists, students’ organizations, and buddies will showcase their wares in sand sculpting.

The purely sand sculptures should be at least is 7-foot high and designed on a plot area of 6m x 6m by a maximum of 10-member group.

Non-environment-friendly materials such as plastics, straws, gas or kerosene and spray paints are not allowed to be used.

The sand masterpieces will be judged as to the degree of difficulty, design and artistic quality, relevance to the theme, use of space and neatness.

Porma Balas aims to make sand sculpturing as an art and hobby among Ilonggos and promote as one of the tourism attractions during summer, said Jonathan Clavel, past president of Rotaract Club of Iloilo City.

But more than just that, the sand sculptures send a strong message and seek to impart to the Ilonggos the importance of environmental protection most specifically preserving and protecting the once famous Villa shoreline, he stressed.

More and more Ilonggos are always looking forward to witness Porma Balas every summer, Clavel said.

He noted that Porma Balas born at Villa Beach once spawned sandcastles, sand sculptures and lantern competitions in the famed shores of Boracay and Puerto Galera and dominated by Ilonggo sand sculptors in late 90s to early 2000.

First conceptualized in 1994 by Oscar Nava, past district governor of Rotary Club of Iloilo City, he then endorsed the idea to Rotaract Club of Iloilo City that formulated rules and regulations, guidelines in coordination with Department of Tourism (DOT-6) former regional director Edwin Trompeta.

Nava noted he never had known of or read about or seen that time such event in the country, thus Rotaract Club of Iloilo City took the big challenge to materialize and successfully organize what has become an annual art-and-environment themed fun summer activity.

Porma Balas is touted as a pioneer of its kind in the Philippines even as sand sculpture events first became popular in other countries.

Photo credits: Jonathan Clavel