ROXAS Boulevard promenaders were delighted last May 3 as the famous stretch became a constellation of celebration of culture in the archipelago.

Dubbed as the “Philippines’ grandest fiesta”, Aliwan 2003 featured the champions of 22 local festivals nationwide. The participants came in colorful, elaborate costumes and impressively designed floats—all competing for a total of P3 million in cash prizes in three categories: best dance parade, best float, and the Reyna ng Aliwan beauty contest.

From among the more than 3,500 participants, “Halad” of Cotabato City, in which young dancers acted like one of Cotabato’s multi-colored vintas, won best dance parade.

The “Guinakit Festival” of Parang, Maguindanao dominated the float competition and displayed the unique colors of Mindanao in their boat-themed entry.

Other notable floats were the “Panagbenga Festival” from Baguio with its trademark millions of flowers, and “Putong Pulo” of Valenzuela, a float made out of 200,000 pieces of puto in different colors.

Reyna ng Aliwan was Martel Bugarin of Isabela. She was clad only in richly festooned coconut shells.

Aliwan also featured a grand fireworks display and bazaars showcasing native products and culinary delights from all the 16 regions.

Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Richard Gordon said the three-day affair was part of the World Tourism Organization’s declaration of 2003 as “Visit Philippines Year.”

Aliwan is a collaborative effort of DOT, the Cultural Center of the Philippines, and the cities of Manila and Pasay.

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