The Boracay Ati Atihan festival is a major tourist attraction. The event is celebrated not just on the island, but also in other parts of the Philippines.
This festival is celebrated at Ibajay, Kalibo and the famous White Beach. It takes place every third week of January. Those who are at White Beach will see the participants on the said date.
If you want to see the fiesta at Ibajay, the best option is to take a flight from Kalibo airport. Upon landing you can take a jeep or tricycle. Just ask to be taken to the main city. The festival takes place there.
What to See
Each of these fiestas have their own features. However, the Boracay Ati Atihan festivals have some elements that are constant. The festival begins with a parade and ends with a mass. This takes place at the first day.
The main attraction is the competition between the different participants. The competition is marked by marching and dancing. The participants march to the sound of drums. The participants are clad in multicolored attire, metals, trinkets and various ornaments.
The roots of the festival can be traced to a combination of the religious beliefs of the natives and Christianity. Simply put, the natives combined the missionaries teachings of Christianity with their own beliefs.
The trademark drum beats were used by the natives to celebrate when Datu Puti gave them land. The origin of the fiesta itself is subject to much speculation. The most popular theory is that they were used to thank the gods for a bountiful harvest.
According to one account, the missionaries tried their best to Christianize the people. When they refused to give up their pagan practices, they asked the tribal leader to include Catholic saints in their celebrations. This would lead to the fusion of the two religions. The festival would become popular and spread throughout the country.
There is no fee required; you can just go to any of the locations and watch the festival unfold.
The festival is very popular and locals would march and dance along. If you visit the island during the festival date, expect the tourists, local and foreign to dance along.
The Boracay Ati Atihan festival features a Santo Nino at the end of the parade. The figure is surrounded by bamboo torches. The occasion is also marked by numerous parties and other events related to the festival.