VIVA KALIBO, VIVA KAY SEÑOR SANTO NIÑO, VIVA!
For decades, both foreigners and countrymen alike have called the Ati-atihan as the undisputed Mother of All Philippine Festivals. History records show that the Ati-atihan is the festival that has served as impetus and inspiration for many festivals, big and small, all across the archipelago.
To quote the official tourism book of Aklan: “Way before Boracay became famous, Aklanons took pride in what Lonely Planet calls as ‘the Philippines’ most famous fiesta’ and ‘the granddaddy of all Philippine festivals.’ The calendar of the country’s official tourism campaign in 2015 began with the Ati-atihan–‘Learn new dance moves at an 800-year old festival,’ it said. For one whole week every January and climaxing on the third Sunday, the Ati-atihan is the place to be merry. To bask in the million drumbeats that saturate the whole week. To revive your spirit, be it through a devotion to the Child Jesus or through the unspoken yet felt bond with the crowd. To feel alive, to join the thousands of other revelers as they shout, ‘Hala Bira, Puwera Pasma!’” (“Aklan: Land of the Finest, Land of the Fervent” by P.Y. Kimpo)
But beyond the big words to describe the Ati-atihan, we can consider the festival as a passionate, heartfelt celebration.
A celebration of the powerful devotion to the Santo Niño.
A celebration of the rich culture and heritage of Aklan, especially the Aklanon’s bond with the first inhabitants of the land, the Ati people.
A celebration of the past, present, and future of the ancient town of Kalibo—international gateway to the crowning jewel of Philippine tourism (Boracay Island), and home to other world-class attractions such as the Queen of Philippine Fabrics (the haboe piña cloth) and one of the finest mangrove forests in the Asia-Pacific region (ASQ Bakhawan Eco Park).
And a celebration of our all-important ties with our family members, our relatives, our friends, and our fellow human beings.
We all know how the COVID-19 Pandemic has turned everything upside down. It has darkened our skies and dampened our revelries. But the Ati-atihan, in its revered stature as the Mother of All Philippine Festivals, has the duty of making sure that our CELEBRATION OF LIFE continues, and that we are never defeated by the pandemic.
Through this virtual celebration of the Ati-atihan, we declare: COVID ka eang, Kalibonhon kami. We are vibrant in the New Normal!
(Video production: LGU Kalibo & Ati-atihan in the New Normal Team)(Words supplied by: Phillip Yerro Kimpo)