From the archives of Associated Press, the video footage of the Ati-Atihan Festival in Kalibo, Aklan was taken in the year 1974.

During this time, there is no Sinulog Festival yet in Cebu (it was organized in 1980). Also, Dinagyang Festival was still known as Iloilo Ati-Atihan (it started as a spin off of Aklan Ati-Atihan in 1968 and was repackaged to Dinagyang in 1977). Sinulog, Dinagyang and all other festivals in the country gained inspiration from the Ati-Atihan and this is the reason why it is called “the mother of all Philippine festivals”.

In 1974, Ati-Atihan was brought to Manila by the Department of Tourism and the Aklanon group D’klan where it fascinated an audience of 500,000 foreigners and tourists. This led to Pres. Ferdinand Marcos and first lady Imelda Marcos visit to Kalibo to witness the most talked about “Ati-Atihan” in 1975. They were awed by the celebration that in 1977, the Marcos government ordered the various regions of the Philippines to come up with festivals or celebrations that could boost tourism and development.

In 1989, Pres. Corazon C. Aquino acknowledged the national cultural and tourism contribution and significance of the Ati-Atihan Festival by declaring the whole month of January as Ati-Atihan Month by virtue of Proclamation No. 356 series of 1989. In 2002, Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo acknowledged the same and even declared January 18, 2002 (Friday) as a special public holiday in Kalibo by virtue of Proclamation No. 144 series of 2002. Pres. Rodrigo Duterte in 2019 issued a similar declaration through Proclamation No. 884, series of 2019.

The truth is, and that this should be honored and respected, whether or not Barter of Panay is a legend or not, is that all the Mardi Gras festivals in the country were inspired by Aklan Ati-Atihan. Some have changed the name later to make it their own (Cadiz Dinagsa Festival formerly Cadiz Ati-Atihan, Dinagyang Festival formerly Iloilo Ati-Atihan, Lakbayaw Festival formerly Tondo Ati-Atihan, etc.) and some have conceptualized their own versions (Masskara, Sinulog, etc.). The sad thing is that most don’t credit Aklan Ati-Atihan as the source of inspiration in the creation these festivals and links to Ati-Atihan has been erased or not mentioned at all in the respective festivals’ history. The worst thing is there are some claiming that their Ati-Atihan inspired festival is more original than Ati-Atihan.

The early part of the video also show heritage worthy places of interest in Kalibo: the demolished glorietta or the bandstand, the old facade of the St. John the Baptist Cathedral, the then ungated Pastrana Park and the old Kalibo Public Market (now the Kalibo Shopping Center).Other photos of Ati-Atihan from the different eras as early as 18th century can be found on this album – – >…

Credits: Associated Press & Ro Akeanon