Hotels are fully booked, restaurants thrive with customers, and souvenir shops sell various trinkets related to Ati-Atihan.
In conclusion, the Ati-Atihan Festival is more than just a celebration of dance and traditions – it is a testament to the resilience and creativity of its people. Through this festival, they pay homage to their ancestors while embracing modernity. It is truly an experience that should not be missed byThe Ati-Atihan Festival is one of the most vibrant and colorful festivals in the Philippines. It is celebrated every January in Kalibo, Aklan, and attracts thousands of locals and tourists alike. This festival has a rich history that dates back centuries and holds great significance for the people of Aklan.
The origins of the Ati-Atihan Festival can be traced back to the 13th century when ten Bornean datus (chieftains) fled their homeland due to political unrest. They sailed across the Sulu Sea until they reached Panay Island, where they were welcomed by local tribes led by Datu Puti.
One of these tribes was called Atis, who were dark-skinned indigenous people.
To show gratitude for their warm welcome, Datu Puti’s tribe organized a feast for their new guests. The Atis painted themselves with soot from burned coconut husks to look like their Malay visitors as a sign of unity and friendship. This act became known as “ati-atihan,” which means “to make oneself like an ati” in Visayan language.
Over time, this simple ati atihan festival gesture evolved into a grand celebration that combined religious devotion with lively street dancing and music.
Today, participants don traditional Visayan attire adorned with colorful face paint made from rice powder or charcoal dust resembling tribal tattoos.
The highlight of the festival is its street parade featuring groups dressed as warriors or ancient chieftains known as “tribus.” These tribus dance through Kalibo’s streets while beating drums made from hollowed-out logs called “tambol.” The rhythmic beats create an infectious energy that permeates throughout the city during this festive occasion.
Aside from being a cultural spectacle filled with joyous revelry, there is also deep religious significance attached to the Ati-Atihan Festival. It coincides with Santo Niño de Kalibo Feast Day on January 16th, which honors the child Jesus. The festival is a way for devotees to express their faith and gratitude through dance and music.
The Ati-Atihan Festival has become an important part of Filipino identity, not just in Aklan but also across the country. It showcases the resilience and unity of the Filipino people, as well as their ability to find joy even in challenging times.
In recent years, efforts have been made to preserve and promote this cultural heritage. Local government units work hand-in-hand with community organizations to ensure that the festival remains authentic while adapting to modern times.