Binirayan Festival is a popular entry on the Philippines’ social calendar of events. It is a month-long festival that begins in early December, so you have plenty of time to visit and enjoy the festivities!
The festival is celebrated in Antique Province as a way to commemorate the arrival of the ten Bornean Datus in Hamtic town way back in the mid-19th century Borneo region. The fascinating thing about Binirayan is that contrary to popular belief, this event is held to honor the Malay roots of locals in Antique.
The festival has been held almost every year since 1974. And since 2011, it has consistently been held in the month of December – before that, the actual month of the festival switched back and forth between April and December every few years.
Binirayan literally translates to ‘where they sailed to’. As in where the Borean Datus sailed to when they came to the island of Panay. And so, it makes perfect sense that the festival is opened with a parade from Pantalan port to Malandog Beach – the area where it is believed to have been the docking point for their ancestors.
The running theme of the Binirayan festival is ‘Retracing Roots, Celebrating Culture and Greatness’. It is all about the celebration of their rich history and honoring their ancestors, and in the Philippines, that is more than reason enough for a big celebration. In fact, the Tuna Festival is a really popular event in the country – just imagine how much more important the Binirayan festival is. This means that it calls for a more pompous and grand celebration.
Festivals in the Philippines are known for all sorts of events, from sports competitions to film screenings. But the actual events tend to vary from festival to festival, with only a few of them being a staple in the larger celebrations.
One of the first things that visitors note at the Binirayan Festival is the coordination of performances. These range from theatrical street plays with the cast adorning full Malayan costumes to rituals performed by those in authority at Binirayan’s location. The flotilla (boat-like floats) are also a remarkable attraction as are the exquisite parades.
Beauty competitions are also a very popular event in the bigger celebrations; the most stunning women from the region compete for the title of the most beautiful one, as they attempt to pass various challenges a panel of judges has set for them. A grueling task obviously, considering just how stunning Filipino women are.
But, beauty queens will be glad to participate in the Lin-ay Kang Antique, formally Miss Antique. The winners of the title get to be Ambassadors for the different charities in the region. Other areas tested in the beauty pageants include talent shows, a host of interviews as well as fun activities managed by the organizing committee.
And no Filipino festival would be complete without a street dancing competition. This is the event that’s hardest not to participate in – there’s something about hearing the drum music and seeing all those people rhythmically moving along, which just causes your hips to develop a mind of their own and start swaying to the music. Of course, anyone can join in the dance, but only the established groups of dancers can take home the prizes.
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Exhibits of local arts, crafts, and products are also a big part of the Binirayan festival. Not only are they a great opportunity for the local artists to gain some exposure and earn extra cash, but they’re also an excellent way for the tourists to get to know the culture of the region better. And arts and crafts made by the locals make much better and more personal souvenirs to take back home.
To enjoy these works of art and so much more, look out for the itinerary prior to the big day. Typically, Binirayan Festival is an exciting location to spend part of one’s holiday in the Philippines, so do check it out.
Since 2007, the Binirayan Confab has been a regular part of the festival. It’s different from all the other events and festivities, in it that this is a gathering of scholars, artists, academics, and nearly everyone who is interested in ‘Antiqueniana’. The purpose of the Binirayan Confab is to discuss and consider the future of the region, in addition to honoring and celebrating its past.
You can also try to visit the neighboring province of Aklan where the famous Boracay Island is. It is just a few hours of land travel from Antique, Panay.
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!