Las Pinas Waterlily Festival: A Festivity with Environmental Value
Already on its 9th year, the Las Pinas Waterlily Festival is becoming more and more popular every year – and for good reason. It is more than a festival, after all, as it was was conceptualized in order to highlight the products made out of water hyacinths or what is commonly know as waterlilies. These were considered as aquatic pests before as they used to clog the Las Pinas River and caused massive flooding in the city. This went on until the then Las Pinas Representative, now Senator Cynthia Villar, started the Sagip Ilog Program to save and rehabilitate the river.
Since truckloads of waterlilies were being collected in regular cleanups, the city leaders and residents thought of ways to make something out them. They found out that they could be used as raw materials in making baskets, sleeping mats, laundry hampers, other handicrafts and yes, even gowns!
One idea then led to another. First, the Water Hyacinth Basket Weaving Enterprise was set up in various barangays to provide livelihood and jobs to poor residents. Most of them are women who were not able to find employment because no one would take care of their small children.
To help water hyacinth weavers market their products, the First Las Pinas Waterlily Festival was introduced in 2005. Different products were showcased throughout the day-long festival, including the beautiful gowns of the contestants in the Miss Las Pinas Waterlily pageant and the costumes of the street dancers.
The competitions are a community affair. Each barangay in the city has a contestant. They weave the gowns, create the costumes and come up with a lively street cheer-dance performance. This year, street performers are elementary school students. Five teams from five schools in Las Pinas, with 50 members each, competed in the Inter-School Street Dance Competition. Villar SIPAG provided P175,000 cash subsidy for the costumes, props and equipment of the participating teams.
The winners were the following: Group 5 -LP East National High School, LPENHS Talon 4 Annex and LPENHS Equitable Village, first place with P50,000 cash; LP North National High School, CAA National High School and Group 2-Las Pinas Science High School, second place with P30,000 cash and Group 4-Las Pinas National High School and LPNS Gatchalian Annex, third place with P20,000 cash and trophy.
The highlight of the Las Pinas Waterlily Festival was the coronation of the winners in the search for Miss Las Pinas Waterlily 2014. Sixteen young ladies from the city’s 20 barangays vied for the much-coveted title. A pre-pageant event was held at the Villar SIPAG Center on July 22. The coronation was held on July 25. Crowned Miss Las Piñas Waterlily 2014 was 20-year-old Jian Cayla Salazar of Barangay Manuyo Uno. Runners up were Maram M.A. Banayah of Barangay Pamplona 3 and Giselle G. Pascual of Barangay Almanza 1.
The winners of Miss Las Pinas Waterlily 2014 will become ambassadresses by promoting the beauty of Las Pinas City and its livelihood enterprises as well as the United Nations-awarded Las Pinas-Zapote River Rehabilitation (Sagip-Ilog) Program.
To know more about this worthy environmental and cultural advocacy, the public can sign up for free for Lakbay Aral, a guided tour of the Las Piñas-Parañaque Critical Habitat and Eco-tourism Area (LPPCHEA) and the Livelihood Projects of Villar SIPAG.