Date of celebration
The festival was conceived by Governor Evelio Javier, and first celebrated on January 11–13, 1974. In 1975, the festival was moved to April 25–27, but in the succeeding years was celebrated in December to coincide with the Christmas celebration in the province. In 1981, with the assumption of Governor Enrique A. Zaldivar, it was moved back to April. The festival was not celebrated in 1980, 1984–1987, and 1995 due to political crises. Consequently, the dates of the festival, which has become one of the major festivals in the West Visayan region has suffered inconsistency with the every change of leadership of the province. In 2002, however, the provincial board of Antique passed a resolution fixing the date of the celebration in April, and when the management of the festival was given to Binirayan Foundation, Inc. the dates were set on the third weekend of April.
In 2011, the date was again changed to December, and ever since, it is being celebrated every December.
The Binirayan Festival commemorates the legend of the arrival of the ten Bornean datus on the island of Aninipay now known as Panay. (See the legend of Maragtas.) As Governor Evelio B. Javier, the Father of Binirayan Festival, reminded the Antiqueños during the earlier celebrations, "let us gather the strands and memories of our past, as we look back with pride, that we may look ahead with confidence to Antique tomorrow."
Binirayan Festival's permanent theme is "Retracing Roots, Celebrating Culture and Greatness."
The festival opens with a fluvial parade from the Pantalan port to Malandog Beach in Hamtic, believed to be the original settlement of the Bornean datu. In Malandog is a historical marker commemorating this legendary event. There are beauty pageants, cultural shows, street dancing, parades, and arts and crafts local products exhibits. In 2006, the Binirayan Foundation introduced the Komedya Antiqueña as a sub-festival to promote the komedyas traditional folk theater.
From Ati-ati to Malay-ati
The ati-ati, now popularly known as "ati-atihan" in Philippine fiestas, used to be one of the main events of the festival. Patterned after the famous ati-ati of Aklan, the Binirayan ati-ati is participated in by people of all walks of life painting their faces with black soot. A tribe competition is held among towns and barangays. The popular tribes during the first decade of the festival were Tribu Kamihanon (Bgy 8), Tribu Bukaka (Bgy 2), Tribu Karintukay Dagatnon (Marina) and Tribu Campan (Kampo-Pantalan). Tribu Kaunlaran (Bgy 3) of Comon under then tribe trainer and choreographer Herman Cortez became a regular winner, that they represented the province in 1981 in the Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo City as Tribu Binirayan. Tribu Binirayan emerged Champion, the first-ever non-Ilonggo tribe to win the competition. It also boosted the popularity of Binirayan Festival as a major festival in Region VI. In later years, however, the high cost of maintaining tribes, prevented many tribes join the ati-ati competition. In 2001, the Binirayan Executive Committee repackaged the competition as Malay-Ati competition to introduce the idea that the Malays and Ati are the ancestors of the Antiqueños. Current Malay-Ati performance show historical events, folk practices and lifestyles in Antique. The competition in April 2008 was a best of the best among festivals in the province.
Lin-ay kang Antique
The Lin-ay kang Antique (Miss Antique) beauty pageant has been a staple event in the festival despite feminist sentiments and criticisms. As originally conceived in 1974 during the first Binirayan celebration, the Lin-ay kang Antique is "not necessarily to choose an Antiqueña for a national beauty competition but to select one who would serve as a model for other Antiqueñas because of her charm, beauty, wit and character, and who would serve as Antique's ambassador of goodwill to Antiqueño communities around the world and would help bind them as a people who could look back with pride and look ahead with confidence." In 2007, the Binirayan Foundation, organizer of the festival, came up with new guidelines in the selection of the Lin-ay kang Antique, and one them is for the selected candidate to serve the province of at least one year.
Formerly crowned Lin-ay kang Antique
1974 Madelyn Tirol (Anini-y)
1975 Mercy Joy Casumpang (San Jose)
1976 Mylene Miciano (Tibiao)
1977 Darlene Joy Tan (San Jose)
1978 Asuncion Panaguiton (San Jose)
1979 Genebeth Sta. Romana (Bugasong)
1981 Rose Fia Gonzales (Pandan)
1982 Mary Jane Jereza (Tibiao)
1983 May Caroline Yap (San Jose)
1988 Ma. Cecilia Nietes (San Jose)
1989 Maricar Imperial (San Jose)
1990 Nelly Secondes (Aniniy)
1991 Jane Teñosa (Hamtic)
1992 Melody Paculaba (Aniniy)
1993 Rosalyn Nufable (San Remigio)
1994 Diana Rose Grasparil (Sibalom)
1996 Jasmin Pediangco (Bugasong)
1997 Carol Josette Cardos (Tibiao)
1998 Catherine Frangue (Caluya)
1999 Quennie Bandoja (Tibiao)
2000 Sherylyn Harrison (Sebaste)
2001 Sheryl Ebon (Libertad)
2003 Krishna Constantino (Tibiao)
2004 Klarissa Grace Nebit (San Jose)
2005 Rubie Rizza Estaris (San Jose)
2006 Myrianne Jade Bagaforo (Pandan)
2007 Michelle Ann Acuña (Belison)
2008 Emmerie Dale Cunanan (Pandan)
2009 Karen Jane Mejia (Bugasong)
2010 Maxinne Marie Sentina (Sibalom)
2011 Mary Kris Gualberto (Tibiao)
2012 Gracechele Mae Managuit (Tibiao)
2014 Mariel Riba Rivera (San Jose de Buenavista)
2015 Sarah Panlibuton Barnes (Bugasong)
2016 Kathleen Kates De Toro (Bugasong)
No Lin-ay kang Antique for 1980, 1984–1987, 1995, 2002 and 2013.
Antique International Marathon
This year, 2017, a new event is being slated, the Antique International Marathon (AIM). It aims to showcase the pristine nature and hassle free lifestyle of the Antiqueños. It also intends to put the province at the center of sports tourism in the country. AIM will also spark the enthusiasm of the Antiqueños and everyone else to get into sports, go outdoors and have a healthy lifestyle.
Part of the Registration Fee (10.00) will go to the beautification/upkeep of the Malandog River. Malandog River is the site where the Landing of the Ten Malayan Datus took place.
The Binirayan Confab
In 2007, Binirayan Foundation convened the Binirayan Confab (initially billed as Binirayan Summit) as a gathering of scholars, academicians, researchers, artists, cultural workers, and almost anyone interested in "Antiqueniana." The confab serves as the intellectual strand of the festival, because according to the organizers, to make the Binirayan Festival closer to its vision of bringing together Antiqueños to look at their past with pride, and look ahead with confidence. The Binirayan festival is not all raucous revelry, but also a time to think about which direction the province takes.
- Binirayan 77 souvenir program
- Binirayan Foundation, Inc. brochure
- Binirayan Souvenir program