/20 Jan 2016
We’re only a few days away from 2016, which means…another round of Philippines’ biggest festivals are about to commence again! Kicking off on January is, of course, the mother of all Philippine Festivals—Kalibo’s legendary Ati-Atihan!
Did you know that the Ati-Atihan is about 800 years old? The festival started way before the Spanish colonized the Philippines and turned it into a Catholic celebration. It was initially a thanksgiving celebration of Malay immigrants in Kalibo to the local Atis. The Malays, who were said to be white-skinned, would cover their bodies up in soot to make themselves look like the native Atis while they performed song and and dance performances in display of gratitude for the land and livelihood that was graciously shared with them. Thus the name “Ati-Atihan,” or “make believe Atis.”
With the rich and deep-rooted history behind the festival, Ati-Atihan has become one of the most (if not the most) popular festivals in the Philippines. To date, people not just from around the country but from all around the world would fly to Kalibo just to witness the grand week-long spectacle of vibrant and meticulous costumes, exotic dances, and the overall experience-of-a-lifetime.
Not convinced yet? Here, below, are 10 photos from the Ati-Atihan festival that will surely convince you to just book that ticket and go.
10. Statues of the Sto. Niño are a staple in the festival. When the Spanish took over the Philippines many centuries ago, they deemed the old Malay celebration a form of Pagan worship. However not banishing the fest completely, they did add the Sto. Niño into the mix, turning it into the religious celebration it is known as today.
9. Look at all the splash of colors!
8. The intricate design of the costumes is one of the best known traits—and pride—of the Ati-Atihan Festival.
7. “Hala Bira! Pwera Pasma!” This phrase is often shouted at the fest while holding a Sto. Niño to give praise.
6. Face paints are a thing at the fest, too. Not just for the performers, but for all festival attendees!
5. For an entire week, witness the streets of Kalibo be taken over by a spectacular parade of technicolors.
4. It is been said again and again that the fascinating thing about Ati-Atihan is the distinct positive energy that people bring to the fest. Just look at that smile!
3. Grand festivities aside, Ati-Atihan is first and foremost a cultural experience that allows you a peek into the rich history of Kalibo. Let this fest be a great learning experience for yourself, too!
2. If you enjoy good photography (or are simply keen with your Instagram shots), the visual beauty that is Ati-Atihan will surely blow you away.
1. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from. After all, Ati-Atihan is a celebration rooted on friendship between two cultures. There are no divisions here. No matter the religion or the race, just come here with an adventurous heart and an open mind, and the wonders of Ati-Atihan will unravel on its own for you.