LINGAYEN, Pangasinan—Local designer Arty Bernal beamed with pride as he took a last-minute look at a motorized boat he and his team had decorated before they boarded it on Tuesday.
This was the third time his village is joining Banca Parada, a fluvial parade along Agno River, since it was launched in 2010 as one of the highlights of Pista’y Dayat (Sea Festival) held every May 1.
“We hope to finally win this time,” Bernal said.
The day before, Bernal and his team worked for hours with Sabangan village chief Hector Fabiana to decorate their boat based on a theme they had agreed on.
“We are depicting a river scene, with all its mangroves and fish, and the need to protect it,” Bernal said.
Among the 160 boats that joined the fluvial parade, only Bernal’s had bongo drums and a “river goddess” wearing a bikini, making it the most photographed float.
“The boats are really very colorful and very creatively designed,” said Alex Ferrer, provincial employment services office chief and chair of Banca Parada.
The parade took off from Sitio Bantayan in the coastal village of Pangapisan North here, which is near the mouth of Agno River, to Barangay Bañaga in Bugallon town. The route spanned almost 5 kilometers.
At the Domalandan Bridge, spectators enjoyed the view as colorful boats passed below the bridge. More people gathered below the Bañaga Bridge in Bugallon, where the awarding ceremony, with Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo as guest, was held.
Ferrer said traditionally, the fluvial parade was held from Pangapisan North to Lingayen Beach, just behind the provincial capitol.
“It was because at that time, we cannot navigate through the river because it was teeming with fishing structures,” Ferrer said.
The river was cleared after Governor Amado Espino Jr. ordered the dismantling of fishing structures, like pens and cages, in Pangasinan’s river systems.
“Now the rivers have started to teem with fish again. This has benefited most of the marginal fishermen, aside from restoring the beauty of our waters,” Ferrer said.
He said Espino was successful in raising the awareness of Pangasinan residents on the need to protect the rivers. Unfortunately, Bernal’s boat did not win again.
The biggest winner was Binmaley Mayor Lorenzo Cerezo, whose four coastal villages got all prizes in the competition’s barangay category. Gabriel Cardinoza, Inquirer Northern Luzon