Ati-Atihan Festival returns to the streets of Kalibo | Inquirer News

Ati-Atihan Festival returns to the streets of Kalibo

/ 11:41 PM January 15, 2023
Ati-Atihan Festival dancers. STORY: Ati-Atihan Festival returns to the streets of Kalibo

The Ati-Atihan Festival has returned to the streets of Kalibo two years after being the COVID-19 pandemic prevented its celebration outdoors. (Photo from the Facebook account of Kalibo Public Affairs)

ILOILO CITY, Iloilo, Philippines — Kalibo, the capital town of Aklan, welcomed back the show of colorful costumes on paint-covered street dancers and cheering residents and foreign spectators as the annual Ati-Atihan Festival made its way to the streets over the weekend.

The revelry in honor of the Señor Santo Niño, or the Child Jesus, returned to a physical setup on Saturday, Jan. 14, after the COVID-19 pandemic hampered celebrations in 2021 and 2022.

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The celebration of the festival, which dates back to the Spanish colonial era, lived up to its promise of being bigger and better as it brought back the loud drum beats, gleeful barefoot street parades, devotional Catholic activities, and residents and visitors going around the town’s major spots.

Activities had been lined up since Jan. 4, including a mural contest along Osmeña Avenue, the Ati-Atihan Fashion Festival at the Museo It Akean façade, an opening procession, a “Pagdayaw” Exhibit and Caravan, Novena Masses, and a “Paeapak” of the Santo Niño at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, and sports activities at Pastrana Park, among others.

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Kalibo Mayor Juris Sucro led the blessing of the public in chanting “Viva kay Señor Sto. Niño!” during the Pilgrim’s Mass at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.

A grand highlight of the festival was the Kalibo Sadsad Ati-atihan street dance competition, which has been in place since 1963.

This year, 34 “tribes” from Kalibo and its neighboring towns of Banga, Ibajay, Lezo, Makato, Malinao, and Numancia, strut their best moves from the Aklan Provincial Capitol area on Osmeña Avenue to Pastrana Park in the town center.

There were four categories — Tribal Small, Tribal Big, Modern Tribal, and Balik Ati.

The competition offers prizes of up to P3.38 million, including grand prizes of P1 million (Tribal Big), P150,000 (Tribal Small), P140,000 (Modern Tribal), and P120,000 (Balik Ati), with cash prizes also for second and third placers in each category.

A special cash prize award of P5,000 will also be given to the winners in each category — Best in Kalibo Ati-atihan Costume, Best in Kalibo Ati-atihan Street Dancing, Best in Kalibo Ati-atihan Beats and Sounds, and Most Disciplined Group.

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TAGS: COVID-19 pandemic, Kalibo Ati-Atihan Festival
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