This Ati-Atihan festival in Kalibo will blow you away


Ati-Atihan festival – The Ati-Atihan Festival takes place once a year in the month of January in Kalibo, Aklan. It's a 2-week festival that ends on the 3rd Sunday of the month.



Ati-Atihan festival – The Aklans' Ati-Atihan Festival is named as the “Mother of All Filipino Festivals”. Kalibo is known for its “Ati-Atihan” before some other nearby provinces started their own. The name of this festival signifies “pretending to be like an Ati.” The Ati, are the first ancestprs of the Filipinos well known as Negritos. They are indigenous people that have black skin as well as curly hair.

In 1212 AD, 10 datus from Borneo arrived on the island of Panay in which Aklan is situated. And peacefully bought land from the native king Marikudo. Today, the Ati-atihan Festival celebrants paint their faces with black soot. People that perform in the exciting parade likewise wear colorful fancy costumes.

Due to the historical influence of the Catholic church, the festival has been said to honor the Santo Niño (Baby Jesus). Actually, Kalibo means “one thousand,” taken from the number of individuals that were baptized in a day by earlier Spanish missionaries.

A shout from the Ati-Atihan Festival is called “Hala Bira”. Each Filipino is aware of this phrase, and not the origin. During the 17th century, Moro coming from the south are attacking Panay island. The defenders used artillery along with the battle cry Hala bira means “Hit them”. The gunpowder caused their faces to blackened and after the battle they appeared to be black-skinned Ati. However, the Santo Nino was acknowledged for saving the lives of the local people from the Moros.


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