Paraw Regatta Festival

Paraw Regatta is a yearly cultural festival held in the district of Villa de Arevalo in Iloilo City, Iloilo, Philippines every third weekend of February.

It is regarded as the biggest sailing competition in the country, the oldest in Asia as a race involving traditional sailboats, and one of the much-anticipated yearly tourist attractions in Iloilo City along with Dinagyang Festival and La Calendaria Festival.

History of Paraw Regatta Festival

The first Paraw Regatta Festival was conducted in 1973. Its name comes from paraw, which refers to outrigger sailboat, and regatta, which means a water race of boats and yachts.

It was organized to continue remembering the history of paraw as a traditional watercraft and skills of sailors. Previously, activities were slated for only one day and it has been expanded since.

The event, organized by the Iloilo Festival Foundation Inc., was called Iloilo-Guimaras Paraw Regatta in the past and renamed to what it is known today when Guimaras became an independent province in 1992.

Because of Covid-19 threat, it was not held in 2020, and activities were streamed online in 2021. It was cancelled in 2022.

Other similar festivals in the country are Paraw Biniray Festival of Boracay, Aklan and Paraw Festival in Alaminos City, Pangasinan.

What is a paraw?

Paraw Regatta Festival commemorates the long history and tradition of boat-building in Western Visayas region. The inhabitants of Panay were seafaring people.

They made various watercraft way before the coming of the Spaniards, an industry that developed over time as a product of having to travel on water to reach settlements in different islands, plentiful source of good timber, seas that teemed with rich resources, and navigating river systems.

Boats were utilized as a means of livelihood and transport, as well as in waging wars, brokering peace, or participating in merry-making such as rice festivals.

Paraw is native to the Visayas. It is characterized by a pair of outriggers (katig) supporting the wooden-hulled boat (bangka), and it is powered by the winds caught in its sails (layag).

Its small, slim shape makes it suitable for water navigation due to its speed and can be used to move cargoes and people for inter-island travel. When a motorized engine is attached, it is then called a pumpboat.

The katig is attached to the hull to provide balance and to decrease the need for a bulky keel. Its sails can be similar to latin-rig or crabclaw that is made of mat, fabric, or canvas and shaped into a triangle. Its triangular sail makes it different from a vinta whose sails are rectangular.

Paraw Regatta Festival Activities

The highlight of the festivities is the Paraw Race. The circuit is 36.5 kilometers in Iloilo Strait along the coasts of the island of Panay and Guimaras. Categories also divide the participating crafts according to their dimension: ones for 16 feet or shorter and built in traditional way, and longer boats that can be made of other materials.

Another mainstay is the beauty pageant called Miss Iloilo Paraw Regatta. It is a search for empowered women who possess beauty, brain, and a heart to serve.

Moreover, a slalom competition is slated in the calendar a day before the main events. It is a shorter course of about three kilometers and it is a test of navigational skills of competitors.

Sinamba sa Regatta is a street dance competition, combining music, street performance, costume, and dance. It is participated by students of educational institutions, and they are judged according to their conformance to the year’s theme, visual spectacles, synchonized movements, and other criteria. The event is a celebration of performance arts, colors, and music.

Other activities of the festival include photo exhibit, religious ceremonies, parade, sports such as beach volleyball, body painting, sail-painting (Pinta Layag) and entertainment shows.

How to reach Arevalo, Iloilo City

You can buy a plane ticket to Iloilo International Airport. From there take a cab or bus to Arevalo District.


Paraw Regatta Festival Summary

NameParaw Regatta Festival
CelebrationCulture, Sailboat
DateThird week of February
Duration1 week
LocationDistrict of Arevalo, Iloilo City, Iloilo
OrganizerIloilo Festivals Foundation Inc.
Previous NameIloilo-Guimaras Paraw Regatta