Ati-atihan is probably one of the most recognizable festivals in the Philippines and it is not really surprising why it is hailed as the “Mother of All Philippine Festivals“. Celebrated every fourth Sunday of January in Kalibo, Aklan in honor of the Santo Niño (Infant Jesus). The name Ati-Atihan means “to be like Atis” (“Atis” is the local name for the Aeta aborigines who first settled in Panay Island).
The festival is characterized by its unique tribal dance, music and colorful costumes. Performers are notably putting black soot on their faces, another distinctive trait of Ati-Atihan. It is also interesting to note that the festival has inspired many other Philippine Festivals including the Sinulog Festival of Cebu and Dinagyang of Iloilo City.
Last Sunday (January 27), the streets of Cavite City were graced with colorful parade of students accompanied by joyful dance movements and flamboyant costumes. The Youth Ministry of San Roque Parish initiated the first ever Ati-atihan Street Dancing and Exhibition in Cavite City. The event was done as part of the church’s Year of the Youth celebration. Joining the colorful parade are the students from different schools of different levels (elementary to college).
Each school were encouraged to form at least one group to perform the traditional Ati-atihan dance. They were also asked to come up with their own costumes and a Tribe name to represent them. The parade started in Padre Pio and the participating tribes danced their way along the Padre Burgos Avenue until they have reached the San Roque Parish were the exhibition took place.
Overall, the parade is made up of eight participating tribes; five competing tribes from High school and College levels, 2 none-competing entries from Elementary, an invited group performing a Sinulog and another group led by the San Roque Parish Youth Ministry.
Participants from the Parish Youth Ministry of San Roque Cavite City
“Tribu Chiquito” of Manuel Rojas Elementary School
“Tribu Chiquito” during the Ati-atihan Exhibition. They used the 2 minute-long standard piece from the song “Piliin mo ang Pilipinas”
“Ati Tribe” of Porta Vaga Elementary School
“Tribong Manlaon” from Cavite National High School
They used a simple black and white color schemed for their costume and complimented it with improvised head piece and equipped themselves with spears.
“Tribong Lobo” from Sangley Point National High school
The tribe came up with a Black and red color schemed costumes with head pieces ornamented with feathers and gold details. They also brought props from spears to color-painted bilao. A festive presentation indeed. Not to mention the tribe’s muse and her intricately detailed costume.
“Tribong Lumad” from Cavite National High School
The tribe came prepared with a very colorful costume with face paint matching their suits. They also brought improvised props like spears, colorful bilao and drums.
The Tribong Lumad during the exhibition
Tribo Gregorio from St Gregory College of Information Technology
The tribe picked a black and yellow schemed costume complimented with a traditional Salakot hat and spears.
“Tribong Adlawan” of Cavite National High School
The tribe during the exhibition with their Black, Red and Yellow schemed costumes and large improvised head pieces. They came up with huge moving backdrops too!
Sinulog Dancers from Cavite National High School
Audience were treated with special Sinulog Dance number while they are all eager for the results.
Everyone was a winner! All the participating groups received a prize. The groups were judged based on the following criteria; Choreography (40%), Synchronization (30%), Costume (20%) and Audience Impact (10%). The panel of judges includes Ms Charlene Esguerra from the Schools Division Office, Sis Annie Alejado from St Joseph College, Mr Florencio Galan and councilors Raleigh Rusit and Ian Barron.
Tribong Lumad of Cavite National High School took home the Grand Prize of 10,000Php followed by Tribo Gregorio and Tribong Adlawan for the second and third place respectively.
It was a festive celebration indeed and wonderfully concluded with another Ati-Atihan dance with all the participants dancing gracefully and joyfully in front of the San Roque Parish. Interestingly, this event is not just intended to be a part of the Year of the Youth Celebration but to become an annual celebration in Cavite City in honor of Santo Niño. Definitely another festive event to look forward to.