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Festivals | The Mother of All Festivals - Ati Atihan of Kalibo

Kalibo has been an overwhelming experience for me.  They celebrate feast day of Santo Nino every second third weekend of January and they celebrate it through Ati-Atihan.

"The Ati-Atihan Festival is a feast held annually in January in honor of the Santo Niño (Infant Jesus), concluding on the third Sunday, in the town of Kalibo, Aklan in the island of PanayPhilippines. The name Ati-Atihan means "to be like Atis" or "to make believe Atis", the local name for the Aeta aborigines who first settled in Panay Island and other parts of the archipelago.
The festival consists of tribal dance, music, accompanied by indigenous costumes and weapons, and parade along the street. Christians and non-Christians observe this day with religious processions. It has inspired many other Philippine Festivals including the Sinulog Festival of Cebu and Dinagyang of Iloilo City, both adaptations of the Kalibo's Ati-Atihan Festival, and legally holds the title "The Mother of All Philippine Festivals" in spite of the other two festivals' claims of the same title." - Wikipedia

The other festivals are far more popular than the Ati-Atihan of Kalibo but the latter's are far more festive.  They have a long festival but it all culminates on the third weekend of January.  There are lots of competitions and they pride themselves of having their own street dances.  The judging happens every saturday morning and all people are invited to witness it.  Oh let me explain further, you are not only to witness it, you are to participate in it.

What differentiate Ati-Atihan from others is the fact that people are welcome to join the street dancers.  There are no police nor marshalls prevent you from doing so.  Alcohol likewise is allowed evidenced by the numerous stands or kiosks selling beer.  Oh I love this town already.

Now Saturday morning is reserved for the street dance competition, then in the afternoon, they call it as "Sadsad".  It's what they call the fun that happens after lunch.  People of all ages came out and danced in the streets.  They all converged at the plaza so much so that it filled with people. Imagine street dancers, tourists, locals dancing to the sounds of drum beats.  It was raining that afternoon yet people stayed and danced and had fun.

All day Sunday also means whole day of fun and religious celebration.  As they celebrate the feast day of Sto. Nino, they parade the image around the city.  Other images are likewise paraded along with bands and costumed participants.

With an experience like this, I won't mind going back for more.  If you are into festivals and street dancing, Ati-Atihan in Kalibo is it.  I have seen other festivals and this one really a fun place to be.

How to get to Kalibo
By Plane - Take a flight to Kalibo International Airport via Cebu Pacific or Philippine Airlines.
By Boat - Take a 2Go RORO boat from Batangas City to Caticlan.  From the port of Caticlan, take an hour and half van to Kalibo.

Where to stay in Kalibo
There are a lot of hotels in Kalibo but we would like to recommend staying at EG Condotel.  Just a 5-10 minute tricycle from the Plaza, its a quiet hotel that offers great service.  You may inquire and book a room here.