Ms. Lyra Velchez, a resident of Barangay Manuyo 1 in Las Pinas City was crowned Miss Water Lily 2012 at the 7th Water Lily Festival held last July 19 at the BF Resort Carnival Park Covered Court. The search was just one of the highlights to the festival held annually to showcase the products made of water hyacinth.
The aquatic plant used to clog the Las Pinas-Zapote Rivers floating along with the rest of the garbage. In partnership with the city government, the Villar Foundation initiated Sagip Ilog, which mainly require dredging operations. The water hyacinth became a challenge from the clearing stage to disposal, which was eventually resolved. One incident led to another and the Water Hyacinth Weaving Enterprise was born. Through the efforts of then Congresswoman Cynthia Villar, training was conducted in weaving dried stalks of the water hyacinth. And the rest, as they say, is history, as the enterprise went on to produce not just baskets, but slippers, lamp shades and other home ornaments. I was even surprised to see dresses worn by the contestants at the Miss Water Lily search, all made of water hyacinth.
The project was a total success that the United Nations even recognized the effort and was awarded the 2011 Water of Life — Best Water Management Practices. Today, Mrs. Villar shared that the rivers of Las Pinas is free from the pesky plants that they had to source their materials from Taguig and other areas where water hyacinth still exists. It’s like helping other cities clean their rivers too! An amazing achievement. The Villar Foundation Managing Director also said that they invited the people behind the Loboc River to look into the possibility of developing a similar project for the rivers of Las Pinas. Truly fantastic!
Another thing I can’t help but admire is the celebration of the Water Lily Festival which gathered everyone from all walks of life in the community. Normally, this scale of celebration only happens during fiestas in the provinces. The festival is no fiesta and yet the entire Las Pinas community participated in the programs and attended the event to witness the entire festivities. One resident that I had a chance to talk to noted that the event is a reminder to her of the success the city has accomplished year on year, from managing garbage, flood control and employment. It so happened she also work in the basket weaving facility by the foundation. Another one said he’s supporting the event because his daughter is included in the street dancing competition.
Any parent would be proud to see his/her son or daughter participating in the first-ever street dancing competition. It’s not just an opportunity to show off those fierce dancing moves but also a chance to show creativity as seen on the various performances complete with gaudy costumes and props. When Mrs. Villar noted that they will need a bigger venue next year, everyone cheered in agreement.
The 7th Water Lily Festival, spearheaded by the Villar Foundation and the Las Pinas City government was a huge success based on the participants and attendees alone. I admire that the organizers were able to bring such a large community as one in the spirit of friendly competition and camaraderie. It’s like a fiesta!
The event culminated with the awarding of winners. The street dancing competition was ruled by the group from Barangay Pamplona 2. Meanwhile, Miss Water Lily 2012 Second Runner-up was Ms. Lady Ann Erlano of BF Int’l/CAA, First Runner-up was Ms. Angelica Prieto of Barangay Talon 2 and the grand prize winner, Ms. Lyra Velchez.