The Mother of all Philippine Festivals
Philippines has rich culture and known for being hospitable. It has many different spoken dialects depending from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Its cuisine is an influence of Hispanic, Chinese, American and other Asian Countries.
The country is also known for festivals. One of the most celebrated from these festivals is the Ati Atihan in Kalibo, Aklan. This festival became so famous that the other neighboring provinces in the country created their own versions.
Ati Atihan happens in January. As soon as the New Year’s Day hangover is finished, people started dancing in the streets and shouting “Hala Bira! Puwera Pasma!”. You could hear the echoes of the drums from a distance. This festival could last for up to two (2) weeks.
The festival consist of dancing in the streets, loud music, drinking, parade of people wearing colorful elaborate costumes and doing religious processions. The locals and even the visitors who participates in the parade paint their faces, arms and legs with black soot.
What to Expect?
Thousands of people from in and out of the country attend the Ati Atihan Festival yearly. It peaks on the last three days. This is the best time for the photographers to capture the best photos.
Foreigners and locals can join the parade anytime. Most of them follow the choreographs of the performers. They also dress up like the performers to complete the feels of being part of this amazing and interactive festival.
Wearing comfortable clothes is a must if you are going to participate in the parade. Do not wear slippers or heels to avoid accidents while having fun and enjoying the festival.
One of the activities that participants are into is drinking alcoholic beverages while in the parade. Most of them bring their own drinks for it is very costly to buy on the stores along the streets.
Kalibo always experience insufficiency in accommodation during this period. Travelers are advised to book their flight and accommodation at least two (2) months in advance. Travel in a group of friends rather than alone for the best kind of experience.
It is said that the name of the festival means “pretending to be like an Ati” The Ati or Negritos are an indigenous people who have black skin and curly hair. That is the reason why today, participants paint their face and body in black.
In the year 1200 A.D. ten (10) Datus from Borneo came in the Philippines. They were granted settlement by the tribes of Panay Island or the Ati people.
The tribe experienced famine back then and they reached out to the Datus. The Datus welcomed them and gave them food. The tribes were very thankful for the help. In return, they danced and sang for them.
Ati Atihan Festival is originally a Pagan Festival worshiping their Anito God. When Spaniards came, they added Christian meaning into it.
Today, the Ati Atihan is celebrated as a religious festival to honor the Santo Nino. In fact, the name Kalibo means “one thousand” which is said to be the number of people baptized in a single day during the Spanish Era.
Ati Atihan Festival 2018 Schedule of Events
Monday|15 January 2018
1:00 PM – Parade of Floats and Tribes (Kalibo Pastrana Park)
7:00 PM – Ati Atihan Festival King Pageant Night (Magsaysay Park)
Tuesday|16 January 2018
2:00 PM to 12:00 AM – Sang Kalibo Tamboe and Street Party (Street around Kalibo Pastrana Park)
Wednesday|17 January 2018
1:00 PM to 6:00 PM – Pagdayaw kay Sr. Sto. Nino (Major Streets of Kalibo)
7:00 PM – Battle of the Sounds (Kalibo Pastrana Park)
Thursday|18 January 2018
8:00 AM to 12:00 NN – Sinaot Sa Calle (Major Streets of Kalibo)
1:00 PM to 6:00 PM – Aklan Higante Contest (Major Streets of Kalibo)
Friday| 19 January 2018
8:00 AM – A whole day Ati Atihan Street dancing “Sadsad Pagpapasaeamat” (Major Streets of Kalibo)
7:00 PM to 2:00 AM Kalibo Invasion – Spectrum 2018 (Music) (Goding Ramos Park, Capitol Ground)
Saturday|20 January 2018 (Biggest Day)
4:00 AM – Dawn Penitential Procession (Major Streets of Kalibo)
8:00 AM – Tribal, Balik-Ati Modern and Individual Ati Atihan Contest (Starts at D. Maagma Street to Major Streets of Kalibo)
12:00 NN – Hornada (Blessing of Children) (St. John Baptist Cathedral)
Sunday|21 January 2018 (Last Day)
6:30 AM – Transfer of Sto. Nino De Kalibo and Pilgrim Mass (St. John Baptist Cathedral)
2:00 PM – Religious Procession and Torch Street Dancing (Major Street of Kalibo and Cathedral Parish of St. John the Baptist)
8:00 PM – Closing Lithurgical Celebrations: “Sadsad Paghatod” (Cathedral Parish of St. John the Baptist)
9:00 Pm – “Pagpadungog” (Magsaysay Park)
You may check www.kalibo.org from time to time to check on the updates.