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Ati Atihan Fiesta - Philippines Travel
Aside from great natural resources such as beaches and forest reserves, the Philippines also boast about fun fiestas. All year round the Philippines has got festivals like Mardigras in New Orleans; although you won’t see any topless women in any Philippine festivals. What Philippine fiestas can guarantee you is a great fun time.
One of the fiestas in Philippine shores is the festival known as Ati-atihan. This festival is held on Kalibo Aklan every January 12 to 18. It is a week long festival that is the highlight of the month of January. This celebration is dedicated to the Sto. Nino or Baby Infant Jesus.
The feast began as a way to commemorate peace between the resident Atis and the Malays from Borneo. When the Spanish arrived, Christian elements were plugged into it and became a 3 day colorful tribal feast. The feast will include people dressed up for a masquerade ball and will continue to dance until they feel totally exhausted. The people who are dancing will continue to shout “Puera Pasma! Hala Bira! Viva Santo Nino!”
This feast is known to be the wildest of all fiestas. The celebrants will paint their faces with black soot and wear outlandishly bright costumes while they dance for the last 3 days of this two week long celebration. This celebration is always timed directly with the second Sunday after Epiphany. Catholics usually observe this day with a lot of merrymaking, parades, processions and dancing. The image of the Sto. Nino is one of the favorites of Filipino devout Catholics ever since it was introduced by the Spaniards.
The celebration may seem a bit off from Sto. Nino if you just look at the festival based on the dancing. But it has very much historical value for the Filipinos. This is because this celebration is a thanksgiving for the harvest and a pact of friendship between the Malays and Aetas way back in the 13th century. Aside from the dancing and marching, a bunch of Sto. Nino images is also paraded, some are even on a float.
However days before the whole fun, dancing and merrymaking, the Catholics first hold up novena masses for the Holy Child or Sto. Nino. The feast is started out with the opening mass that commemorates the importance of the celebration. During the second day, the people will have a rosary followed by a community mass. The last day becomes the highlight because different tribes will compete on the parade dance floor. To end the very fun yet tiring festival a masquerade ball is held.
If you think you’re up for a very long fun festivity, going to the Ati-atihan fiesta may be for you.