Binirayan Festival

Binirayan Festival is a cultural and historical festival held in the province of Antique, Philippines every April or December. First conducted in 1974, it was a means to unite the people of Antique, recollect their historical beginnings, and instill unity. It celebrates the arrival of Malay settlers in Panay and their contact with indigenous people called Atis, who were inhabitants of the island before the coming of the Spaniards.

History of Binirayan Festival

Binirayan Festival comes from the Karay-a word biray, which translates sailboat. It commemorates the arrival of Malay migrants before the Spanish conquest, an account that is lifted from Maragtas which is a collection of legends and oral history by Pedro Alcantara Monteclaro and possibly based on the writings of Fr. Tomás Santarén in 1858. Ten Malay datus together with their families escaped from the rule of Rajah Makatunaw in Borneo and landed in Panay before Spanish rule.

While Ati-Atihan Festival in Kalibo in the neighboring province of Aklan remembers the exchange of territory by the native Ati people in favor of trinkets offered by the Malay newcomers, Biniyaran Festival meanwhile remembers the latter’s arrival in a site that is presently called Malandog in the town of Hamtic, their first contact with the indigenous Ati community, and their eventual settlement of the entire Panay island. (The Bayluhay Festival of San Joaquin, Iloilo, on the other stated that the datus arrived in Siwaragan River and that the barter occurred in Sinugbohan.)

The festival was an initiative by Evelio B. Javier, a young and popular politician, in 1974 as a way to reclaim the cultural identity of the people of Antique and to cultivate community spirit. In 1998, the non-government organization Binirayan Foundation, Inc. was organized to oversee the execution of the yearly festival. Its responsibilities were expanded in 2005 when it took over the culture and the arts programs of the provincial government. In 2006, the komedya, a type of local performing arts in the 19th century that dramatized romance and Christian-Muslim conflict, was introduced.

Binirayan Festival was cancelled in 2020 because of COVID-19 pandemic.

Binirayan Festival and its annual schedule

The first ever Binirayan Festival was a three-day celebration on January 11 to 13, 1974. Since then, the festival has been observed in the month of either April or December. Efforts were made to establish a fixed annual schedule. Below is an attempt at reconstructing its timeline. Because of missing years, it is uncertain when changes of schedule took place.

  • 1974 – January 11 to 13
  • 1975 – April 25 to 27
  • 1976 – December
  • 1981 – April
  • 1992 – December 26 – 30 according to Sylvia Ma. G. Jopillo’s “Getting Their Acts Together: NGOs, GOs, and POs in Antique Province.”
  • 2002 – A resolution was passed to establish a permanent summertime schedule (April) of the festival.
  • 2005 – April 22 – 29
  • 2006 – April 1 – April 29
  • 2011 – December 27-30
  • 2012 – December
  • 2018 – December 1 – December 31
  • 2020 – There were plans to reschedule to April, however the festival opened in December. A bike fest was held from November to December.
  • 2021 – December

Binirayan Festival Song

Dante Beriong composed the official anthem of the festival entitled “Binirayan Kruhay!!!

Binirayan Festival Schedule of Activities

Binirayan Festival’s schedule of activities varied through the years, it could be as short as days or stretch into weeks. Here are some of the highlights.

Biray Fluvial Parade

Biray Fluvial Parade is one of the mainstays and kick-off activities of the festival. It is a reenactment of the voyage that ten Bornean datus together with their families took and a recollection of Antique’s storied past. Sailboats representing their vessels would land in the coast of Malandog. Afterwards, a short theatrical production is presented that depicts the contact between the Malay migrants and aborigines called Atis.

Bugal kang Antique Awards

Bugal kang Antique Awards is the highest award bestowed by the provincial government. It is given to distinguished individuals in the province in different categories. Other recognition such as Datu Lubay Award (artists), Datu Sumakwel Award (lifetime achievement) and Evelio B. Javier Leadership Award for the Youth are handed out.

Fiesta Binirayan

Fiesta Binirayan is a Christmas bazaar where visitors can purchase various goods. Among the products that were on display were woven cloths and fashion items. In 2021, food stalls were set up allowing vaccinated people (against COVID-19) to dine in.

Lin-ay Kang Antique

Lin-ay Kang Antique is also known as Miss Binirayan . It is a glittering affair and beauty pageant for province’s best and brightest women. Each locality send their female representative to compete for this beauty and talent search. The winner becomes the year’s ambassadress of goodwill who would grace events and help in building social causes and advocacy projects.

Malay-Ati Competition

Malay-Ati Competition is a cultural presentation and street dancing. Dance movements are infused with the rich cultural heritage and history of the province and its colorful beginnings of Malays and aboriginal Atis. They are participated by schools, localities, and other organizations.

Tanuman Festival

Tanuman Festival is the agricultural fair. People can buy plants and agricultural products from participating business entities.

Where to go

Most activities happen in San Jose De Buenavista, the capital of Antique.

How to reach Antique

Antique has its own airport, Evelio Javier Airport. One may also book flights in nearby Iloilo Airport, Kalibo Airport, and Caticlan Airport. Land trips are also available from various points of Panay. Ferries also ply the routes connecting from ports departing from other islands.


Binirayan Festival Summary

NameBinirayan Festival
CelebrationCulture, History
DateApril or December
FounderEvelio B. Javier
OrganizerProvincial Government of Antique