Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Paraw Regatta

I knew it was festival season around here but hadn't really realized what it all meant since I had no idea what festivals are celebrated around here anyway. The Philippines has a lot of holidays as well so I am constantly getting surprised by someone in the office saying that tomorrow is a holiday. Not that we follow the holidays really. We're Korean, not Filipino...
But festivals are different and I was fortunate enough to be invited by the remainder of the CS group here in Iloilo to go check out the Paraw Regatta festival this last Sunday. It had actually been going on for a few days but I was only present for the final, most important day. It is the #2 festival in Iloilo and is all about sailing. Or at least it's supposed to be. It has since expanded to include beach sports, body painting, and of course, dance competitions. Since the primary event on Sunday was the sailing race we (the Korean manager, one of my students and I) went down to Villa beach where everything was taking place. I'd never actually been to Villa beach before and although I'd heard of it, I'd actually thought it was a lot further away. In somewhat typical Philippine fashion it is a long but not wide strip of sand (not white sand this time though) and dirty enough to not be impressive. To be fair, there were a lot of people walking around which is going to translate to a spike in garbage floating around and there was plenty of litter from the fireworks the night before as well.
We arrived with just enough time to spare to check out the small sail boats before they started their race. The boats have the typical Philippine style with the outriggers and for the festival, very brightly painted sails depicting anything from psychedelic mythical scenes to what were probably good luck paintings by their children. To the sound of fireworks, the crews of 5 pushed their boats off the beach and head out to sea. It was not a long race as they were back only a few hours later, giving us time to check out some of the other events and activities.
Almost immediately after the boats left there was a group dance competition. Only 5 groups this time and again put on by one of the nearby national high schools and accompanied by a small army of drummers. This time the theme was Mardi Gras, Samba dancing complete with some great costumes. They do know how to put on festivals here and I enjoyed it a lot, more than the rest of the group because I could actually see over the top of the crowds to actually see the dancers in action. The whole festival only further supported my belief that this is a misplaced Latin American country and not an Asian one. After the dancing and a long lunch during which we met up with more couchsurfers, we wandered along the beach to check out the women's beach volleyball, frisbee and football competitions.
In other news, I have been trying to follow the Olympics. I don't have a tv and all online feeds are blocked because none originate here and I can't get access to any from other countries (not because the Philippines blocks it, but because it is prevented from going out). I feel like the only person here that even knows it's on. Koreans know they are good at speed skating but nobody here shows any Olympic spirit or national pride when I tell them they won another gold. It's a good thing I can't find face paints to act like Canadians all around the world who are no doubt going to all develop skin cancers with a curious maple leaf shapes in a few years from now, hehehe. They probably wouldn't appreciate it.
We have a grand total of 5 students now and that number will further shrink before the masses arrive. The arrival of the masses has been delayed again so for the next 3 weeks I'm only working 2 hours a day and almost all the other tutors are on a very long holiday. I'd be tempted to take off too but was not properly prepared to take advantage. That and I think all my friends here are working. As in real work, unlike me ;) So I'll just chill here island-style and dread the day I leave...


At 9:52 AM , Blogger At said...

I must learn how to sail one day. It's such a primitive, natural way to enjoy the water.

Do your students know who Kim Yu-Na is? The media is painting her to be quite the celebrity back home in Korea. So much so that she must train in Toronto to escape it all.

At 10:14 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yu-Na Kim as she insists on being called here in Canada, is actually as good as her billings. The ling program goes tonight, but I doubt anyone else can beat her. She will defeat or win herself.
Bobsledding was awesome, and some of the other sports have been amazing. I personally love long track speed skating.
Did you take pictures of the festival, are you going to post them?
Days are slowly getting longer, and warmer, but it is still too early to talk about spring here in Calgary.

Take care and have fun
Big Bear hugs
THe Bear


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