Ati-atihan in Aklan is one of the celebrated festivals in the Philippines every month of January.
A one to two week-long festivities in the province of Aklan, it is celebrated with singing, dancing, town folks wearing colorful costumes, other cover their bodies and faces with soot, lively beating of drums. And, shouting "Viva kay Señor St. Niño!"
The celebrants in soot imitate the Atis, a local name for the aboriginal highland tribe that could still be found in the backwoods of Panay. Others wear costumes that range from the ragged to the regal, from Oriental to the Western, and from the primitive to futuristic.
The highlight of the festival is on the last day which is always a Sunday. It starts and ends at the church with a procession that passes through the main streets of the town.
This 2013, Kalibo Ati-atihan start its first activity/event on January 11 and the last day is on January 20.
An Ati-atihan origin is believed to have started back on the 13th century. It is when Aklan was once exclusively occupied by Negritos. The quiet rural place was one day provoked by the arrival of Maraynons, foreigners from Borneo, which fled their land in search for better life. Bloody encounters soon occurred between them as the arrival of the Maraynons was resented by the Negritos. Desiring to get back on their peaceful life, the Maraynons initiated a peace talk with the natives. Peace that lead to jubilation. It was celebrated with a feast with the Maraynons daubing their faces with soot to show their desire to live in harmony with the natives.
Later, the Ati-Atihan was celebrated during the harvest season. During the Spanish era, however, Don Flores, the first Spanish encomiendero of Aklan, arranged with Datu Malanga and Madayag to hold the merriment during the celebration of the feast of the Holy Child Jesus. Since then, Ati-Atihan is staged on the third Sunday after Three Kings.
For the 2013 schedule of Ati-atihan, click the link: Ati-atihan Festival Activities
How to Get There
From Manila, you can fly to Kalibo (estimated cost of Php2,500++, round trip, one hour).
source/reference: Souvenir Magazine Ati-Atihan 1987
Kalibo, Aklan Ati-atihan file photos courtesy of Don Triviño | dontrivino.com, thank you! :)