Ati-Atihan Festival

A friend wanted to go to Boracay this weekend, and eager to travel, I agreed to go with him. Unfortunately for him, work wouldn’t allow him to take leave. Not one to pass up the chance to get out of Manila, I pushed on with the trip, specially since it’s a long weekend for me.

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I found out later on that it was the week of the Ati-atihan festival in Kalibo. Though I will be flying into the Caticlan Airport, I thought I might as well make the most out of the trip and take that one and a half hour ride to Kalibo and witness the mother of all festivals.

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The Ati-atihan is held in the honor of the Sto. Niño, much like the Sinulog festival (which is being held simultaneously in Cebu) and the Dinagyang Festival of Iloilo (which will be held next weekend). It’s a week-long affair, concluding on the third Sunday of January. Though Kalibo is the main venue of the festival, other towns also have their own ati-atihan celebration: Boracay on the second Sunday, and the town of Itbajay on the fourth Sunday.

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Maybe it’s because I didn’t stay long enough or explored the parade route, but this festival is rather toned down compared to the festivals I’ve seen last year. The outlandish costumes were certainly present: there were people dressed up as eagles, dressed up as horses and dressed in… pink. Yeah, I think I need to rest before going to festivals. I’m usually too exhausted to enjoy them.

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Nonetheless, it was an experience. I love how people are so passionate about the ati-atihan, from the smallest kids to the oldest grandmother who still dances. More than anything, the ati-atihan is a family affair — I saw fathers and mothers with their children dancing in the streets. The festival, no doubt, is truly a part of their tradition.


Ati-atihan 2009 Video

I left Kalibo around 2:30pm, just as the last contingent inside the Magsaysay Park left to join the parade because I wanted to arrive in Boracay before dark. I was dozing on the van all the way to Caticlan, dreaming of the next time I go back for Ati-atihan.

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Article by Nina Fuentes

Nina doesn't aim to travel to every country in the world -- she just wants to travel to the places that means the most to her. She started traveling in 2006, and hopes to travel for as long as she can. Her travel blog, Just Wandering won the Best Travel Blog in the 2010 Philippine Blog Awards and in the 2011 Nuffnang Asia Pacific Blog Awards.

This Article Has 6 Comments
  1. Sinta says:

    Great photos 🙂 I think the last time I saw ati-atihan was when I was very small and didn’t understand what was going on. But had so much fun ^_^

  2. dong ho says:

    this is the festival that i really look forward seeing but sad that it always coincide with sinulog. one day ill be seeing this. thanks for sharing.

    i like the trip from kalibo to caticlan specially on the part where on one side you can see mountains and on the other side the sea.

  3. nina says:

    Sinta: Really? That’s cool!

    Dong Ho: Yup, unfortunately you’d have to choose between going to Sinulog or Kalibo’s ati-atihan. If you can’t pick one over the other, how about the smaller scale Boracay ati-atihan or the Itbajay ati-atihan, which happens the weeked prior and the weekend after, respectively? I agree, the drive from Caticlan to Kalibo was lovely. Too bad I was dozing half the time lol

  4. miss igorota says:

    amazing photos! hope to be part of this someday!

  5. Riza Reyes says:

    Hello,
    Yes, kalibo Ati-Atihan is really one of the great festival Here in Aklan. since of my childhood I often witness the celebration and I am glad to tell you that you will really enjoy watching the parade and more better you join the parade. Quite amazing experience you won’t get tired of dancing at the middle of the crowd. After all it’s is also a great way of expressing your devotion to St. nino. httphrefa

  6. Riza Reyes says:

    After,the celebration of the festival you could actually, think of visiting Boracay island for more fun of gazing it’s beauty, it would be your great adventure for sure.
    sense it is just a L300 van to Caticlan before reaching Boracay.

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