Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Tourism in Leganes Tap Sailing Boom through the Annual Biray-Paraw Celebration

The 7th annual Biray-Paraw Celebration in Leganes will start with a mix of activities on Sunday morning, July 1, 2012. The celebration will open with a coastal clean-up at 6 a.m. to be followed by a short program at the site. The race or Palumba Paraw follows and after the race activity returns, the much-anticipated biray-biray follows.  

Leganes’ annual Biray-Paraw is a municipal tradition.  Visitors and locals alike take to a beach resort for great competition and celebration.  This year, the ‘action’ takes place at Riannes Beach Resort in Barangay Camangay on the coast road in town.  There is an official opening and closing ceremony.

Leganes has long attracted local visitors to its annual religious festivity, Saad every April which are famous around Iloilo. What is less well known is that it is also a sailing destination in Iloilo.

Celebrating 7 years this year, the Annual Biray-Paraw offers a day of skilled races and festivities. Competitions include a sailing event and the traditional biray-biray or sailing.  

Local tourists are also drawn to the municipality of Leganes by its beautiful coastal scenery. Regular sailing visitors and spectators even coming from different tourism schools in the city have been captivated by the area’s scenic backdrop.

Biray-biray is a popular pastime of Leganesnons on its clean banks where the gentle water and gutsy sea breezes create ideal conditions. It has become a tremendously exciting recreation activity for Ilonggos to enjoy their good holidays; explore the coastal area and eating fresh local produce.

CPU and San Agustin sophomore tourism students enjoyed the biray for free courtesy of the municipal government of Leganes thru its municipal tourism office

For a minimal fee, visitors can pay for a ride to experience biray-biray. Life vests are provided to all who wish to join in the fun and adventure. Enthusiasts are attracted by the chance to learn technical skills in the exposed sea and around the Leganes. They even get a group together and enjoy the day in a friendly rivalry on the water. It is on this day that seafaring lovers can embark on a self-sail holiday around one of the safest and most picturesque cruising grounds nearest to the city of Iloilo.

Many witness and participate in the annual Biray-Paraw celebration and had been growing every year. Leganes is banking on the benefits this leisure activity brings to its economy. It sets out the economic case for local tourism for this town to get involved in the market to be able to outline a more practical steps aimed at growing sailing-related businesses. Although sailing tourism is currently not generating that much for this town’s local economy,  it is set to become one of the fastest growing activity for Leganes tourism.

Biray-Paraw is celebrated annually on a permanent basis, without a doubt boosting the tourism industry and helps generate a tourism platform that will allow Leganes to take advantage and maximize its coastlines while steering promotional efforts and diversified activities towards those less explored such as this nautical sport.

So, take the helm, set the sails and explore the coast around Leganes for it will surely be an adventure of a lifetime.

This quiet and progressive town is one of the 19 coastal towns of the Province. Leganes is subdivided by 18 barangays where the area has successfully combined modern living and rural ambiance to its residents. It is also home to modern residential villages, but has preserved its rustic appeal especially on its coastal barangays.

To get to Leganes, one can take a 20-minuter jeepney ride from Jaro Plaza. For more information, please contact, Mr. Jerry Anas, Municipal Tourism Officer at 09127721033.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

ILOILO River: A River of Life

aerial view of Iloilo City circa 1950s, photo courtesy of Museo Iloilo

The Iloilo River runs right through the heart of Iloilo City. Like a ribbon winding its way across the city, it has a length of 15 kilometers with its water flowing from the town of Oton at Batiano Creek and traverses and nourishes some of the most populated areas in the city, namely, the districts of La Paz, Mandurriao, Molo, Arevalo and the City Proper.

photo courtesy of Museo Iloilo

The Iloilo River has played a fundamental role in the lives, history, culture and civilization of the Ilonggos for thousands of years. Throughout history, the river serves asa major source of transportation, water, food, and livelihoodfor a large number of Ilonggos. Water from theriver is a basic natural resource, essential for various human activities; Iloilo River banks have accordingly attracted settlers since antiquity. It is such an important part of Iloilo that theCity Hall and the Provincial Capitol is located on the shores of the Iloilo River.

The Iloilo River is a resource of immense environmental and social values. It is a major aquatic landscape for all kinds of plants and animals. It supports the growth of 22 mangrove species out of 35 national species.It is home to 634 hectares of fishponds blessed with 31 species of fish, crabs and shrimps that supports the livelihood of 130 fisherfolks. The Iloilo River is truly a river of waters of lifeand how grateful Ilonggos can be for that.

As the Ilonggo population continues to grow and tourism increases, there will be new pressures on the river system. At present, there are 9,062 ship calls transporting 1.6 million passengers yearly.A number of 2,995 businesses are situated in the estuary areagenerating USD 176 million in investments.

The salinity problem serves as a parable for the other problems now emerging for the river. The destruction of a river does not happen overnight. It comes as the result of years of unplanned and uncontrolled development, from the gradual accumulation of the effects of an increasing number of minor incidents.

Intensive developments are springing up along the river with inadequate waste disposal facilities; thus, threatening the water quality of tributary streams. And because of this, fish populations continue to decline. It is the “tyranny of small decisions” which has led to the destruction of our river.

It is by good luck rather than good management that we still have resources worth saving and only good management will save them now.

If “sustainable development” is to have any real meaning for the Iloilo River system, we need to establish a commitment to maintain and improve existing water quality. We must implement policies which aim at minimizing the pollution of our river. Our inland rivers unique advantages, which if effectively utilized will enable us to make sustainable development a reality.

With the present administration, much has been achieved. Headed by the city mayor, Honorable Jed Patrick Mabilog and with the support of Senator Franklin Drilon, the city government has moved to improve water quality legislation so that there is now a general commitment to maintaining existing river quality by requiring the best practical methods of waste treatment and disposal.

River rehabilitation efforts are now focused on involving the community as part of the cleanup process.Embarked on this project is to educate establishments and the communities living along the river on the need to preserve the river’s natural flora and fauna and to discourage indiscriminate dumping. An agreement has been reached, committing 76,938 residents from 35 villages along iloilo river; and suported by faculty and students from nine (9) colleges and universities; involving 2,995 establishments within the estuary.

Government sectors, service providers as well as local leaders and politicians have also taken a keen interest and came forward to play their part in supporting this project. And because of this, major programs have been accomplished that include: (a) Removal of fish pens that allowed the return of important fish species and enhance growth of fish population; (b) Dredging of the Iloilo River that will result to reduction of flood to flood-prone areas in the city; (c) Decongestion of Navigable Areas with the removal of sunken ships and relics; (d) Relocation of Informal Settlers with the preparation of 1,000 housing units to 5,000 informal settlers; (e) Construction of the Iloilo River Esplanade to promote eco-tourism and provide the Ilonggos with recreational areas; and (f) Clearing-up of Iloilo River to improve navigation and scenery, and reduce water pollution.

Conserving nature’s running waters in as pristine a state as we inherited it, is the best gift for our children and the world they will live in. the choice is still before us. We still have time to rehabilitate and maintain the water quality and environment of our inland river, provided we can muster the resources and political will to implement river management policies effectively.

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