Ati-Atihan Festival

(redirected from Ati-atihan)
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Ati-Atihan Festival

Third week in January
One of the most colorful festivals in the Philippines, held in Kalibo, the capital city of the province of Aklan. Originally falling on the Feast Day of Santo Niño (the infant Jesus), the celebration combines Christian and non-Christian elements.
Its origins are in the 13th century, when 10 families fled Borneo and landed on the Philippine island of Panay. There the resident Ati people gave them land. The Ati (also called Negritos or Pygmies) were small dark people, and after receiving the land, the story goes, the Malayan people blackened their faces to look like the Ati. Years later, the Spanish Christians, having converted much of the country, persuaded the inhabitants to darken their skin, wear warlike clothing, and pretend they were Ati to frighten away the Muslims. They were victorious over the Muslims and attributed their victory to Santo Niño. At that time, religion came into the festival.
Ati-Atihan means "to make like Atis." During the present-day festival, revelers cover their skin with soot and wear Ati costumes that are patchworks of coconut shells, feathers, and fronds. They converge on the main streets and around the town plaza and, to the beat of drums, shout "Hala Bira" ('Go on and fight!'), pound their spears, and repeatedly dance a two-step dance. From a distance, the celebrants look like a solid mass of people lurching and swinging in a frenzied rhythm.
See also Dinagyang and Sinulog
CONTACTS:
Philippine Tourism Center
556 Fifth Ave.
New York, NY 10036
212-575-7915; fax: 212-302-6759
www.wowphilippines.com.ph
SOURCES:
GdWrldFest-1985, p. 152
IntlThFolk-1979, p. 288
References in periodicals archive ?
The town of Kalibo, famous for the annual Ati-Atihan Festival every January and which homes an international airport, is known to be the second-best (next to Caticlan) entry point of tourists going to the white island beach of Boracay.
Famous among the festivals are the Ati-atihan in Panay; Masskara in Negros Occidental; Sinulog in Cebu and in other Eastern Visayan provinces; Payoy-pahoy in Samar; Kagayhaan Festival, Duaw Cagayan, and Sakay-sakay Lambago in Cagayan; Kadayawan sa Davao Festival and Apo Duwaling Festival in Davao; Kaamulan Festival in Bukidnon; Bantawan, Festival of Festivals in Mindanao; Mindulani Festival in Butuan; Pahiyas Festival in Lucban, Quezon; Sayaw sa Obando Festival in Obando, Bulacan; Caracol Festival in Cavite; and Flores de Mayo and Santacruzan.
Dela Cruz, general manager of the Ati-Atihan Festival Hostel and Conference Center.