The Las Piñas Water Lily Festival, now on its 8th year, is more than a festival. It is a yearly celebration of an environmental program that has given birth to a livelihood enterprise (water hyacinth weaving enterprise), which has been a source of income for many families in the city. It has also inspired many people that it is now being duplicated in various towns and cities all over the country.
The Water Lily Festival was conceptualized in order to highlight the products made out of water lilies, which were treated as aquatic pests before as they used to clog the Las Piñas River. Then Las Piñas Representative, now Senator Cynthia Villar, started the Sagip Ilog Program to save and rehabilitate the river.
Senator Cynthia Villar said she dreams of making the Water Lily Festival one of the most popular festivals in Metro Manila and the whole country as the Villar Foundation and the Las Pinas City government celebrated yesterday the 8th Water Lily Festival.
“I have gone all over the country and witnessed their festivities… I want our own Water Lily festival to become famous like the Sinulog, Kadayawan and Panagbenga,” said Villar.
Villar said the Water Lily Festival started with an environmental project in 2005 which paved the way for the establishment of the Water Lily Weaving Center.
She noted that before the Villar Foundation embarked on turning the bulk of water lilies as source of livelihood for Las Pinas residents, they clogged the Las Pinas River, which contributed to the flooding in the city.
Water lilies have been growing in abundance in Las Pinas City river, and eventually causing its water to overflow.The Villar Foundation looked for a technology to process the water lilies, considered ‘aquatic nuisance’ and it was successful. The senator said they were able to clean the river and waterways of water lilies, and at the same time, provide livelihood projects for hundreds of families in Las Pinas.
“We have gone a long way to promote our livelihood of water lily weaving. We can see how big we have made out of water lilies that they are now being duplicated by other towns and cities to thwart flooding in their areas,” said Villar, who has been known as “Misis Hanepbuhay”.
She reiterated the Villar Foundation was awarded the Best Water Management Practice in 2011 for its “Sagip Ilog” or the Las Pinas River Rehabilitation Project.
Under the foundation’s Sagip Ilog Program, Las Pinas River was totally eradicated of water lilies that were used in making handicraft products like traditional bags (bayong), baskets, placemats, slippers, laundry baskets, chests, lamp shades, coasters and slippers, among others.
The senator, who is also the foundation’s managing director, extolled that a filmmaker from Spain had filmed the Las Pinas Zapote Rehabilitation project.
“So with continued support and effort, we can do it,” further stated the senator who also led the awarding of cash and trophies to winners of the Miss Water Lily 2013 and the street dancing contests.
The 20 contestants for Miss Water Lily 2013 donned fascinating gowns made from water lilies.
Those who joined the street dancing competitions also used water lilies in their costumes. Each of the 5 groups carried a particular theme on water lilies, and how they were removed from the waters of Las Pinas and benefits people are getting from the once “aquatic nuisances”. Miss Talon 5 Naida Sahtout won the title Miss Water Lily 2013. Dancers from the Las Pinas North National High School were the grand champions in the street dancing competition. Prizes for the winners consisted of P50,000 cash and a trophy.