Now on its 800th year celebration, Ati-atihan Festival was attended by almost a million of spectators who love bands, beats and booze! Yes, booze!
It was my first time to attend this colorful celebration, I must say that I was wowed not only by the amazing and truly magical costumes of all participants but by also the heart-warming hospitality and coolness of Akeanons.
This month-long celebration shed its highlight last weekend were I got to witness some 33 participants who competed on the prestigious Ati-tribe competion.
Ati-atihan was said to be the Akeanon's version of Mardi gras which has both historical and religious origins. Held every third Sunday of January, Ati-atihan is celebrated in five municipalities of Aklan such as Kalibo, Ibajay, Batan, Altavas and Makato.
According to the brief history that I read at Museo It Akean (Aklan Museum), Ati-atihan started when ten Borneo datus headed by Datu Puti arrived on Panay Island during the year 1212.
The Datus had a successful negotiation with the then ati-chieftain Marikudo that led to a celebration.This celebration took place with Malays arriving smeared with soot looking like Aetas as a symbol of their sincerity to the friendship brought by the newcomers.
On how the Ati-atihan became a religious feast, it was said that on 1750 when a Fray Andres de Aguirre, companion priest of Andres Uradaneta and explorer Miguel Lopez de Legaspi arrived at Madyanos, a thriving community west of Aklan River, and baptized some 1000 inhabitants of the town and surrounding settlements. To celebrate this wonderful and beneficial event, drums were sounded and coincided with the existing Ati-atihan feast.
I wasn't able to know the winners of the contests, but for me, I'd like to commend each and everyone of them for this really unforgettable and very fun festival. I'd like to experience it again next year!
Viva Kay Señor Sto. Niño!