A: The Ati-Atihan festival of the Philippines

A: The Ati-Atihan festival of the Philippines

This article is a part of the Festivals A-Z series covering cultural events from all around the world.

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The Philippines is an archipelago of over 7,000 islands located in Southeast Asia, situated between the Philippine Sea and the South China Sea. With a population of over 100 million people, it is the 13th most populous country in the world. The Philippines is predominantly Christian, with over 90% of the population identifying as Roman Catholic. The two official languages are Filipino and English.

Location of the Philippines. Source: Wiki.

One of the most popular and vibrant festivals in the Philippines is the Ati-Atihan festival held annually in January in the town of Kalibo on the island of Panay. Ati-Atihan means "to become like Atis" in the local dialect, referring to the aboriginal Ati people who were the earliest inhabitants of the islands. The week-long festival is held to honor the Santo Niño, or the Christ Child, with street dancing, music, and colorful costumes.

Source: global-geography.org

The Ati-Atihan festival dates back to the 13th century when the Atis helped the Malay settlers, led by 10 chieftains from Borneo, resist an attack by Arab pirates. To commemorate their victory, the Malays held a feast honoring the Santo Niño. When the Spaniards colonized the Philippines in the 16th century, they spread devotion to the Santo Niño and promoted the feast as a religious celebration.

Today, the Ati-Atihan festival opens with a reenactment of the Malay settlers commemorating their victory along with Ati natives. Participants paint their faces and bodies black to look like Atis and wear colorful headdresses and costumes. They dance for hours in the streets to the pulsating beat of drums for two days in honor of the Santo Niño.

The dancing and merrymaking reach a feverish pitch on the third day when participants carry images of the Santo Niño in a religious procession. After attending a mass, revelers resume their dancing with increased frenzy. The parade is followed by street parties, beauty pageants, and outdoor concerts. On the final day, a solemn procession accompanies the return of the Santo Niño image back to the church.

Source: Wiki

Aside from the street dancing, an important part of the Ati-Atihan festivities is the preparation and enjoyment of food. Families cook special dishes to celebrate the occasion and to feed the many visitors who flock to Kalibo for the festival. Local delicacies include pancit noodles, grilled seafood, and savory stews called humba and dinuguan. Sweet rice cakes called puto are also popular festival fare.

Source: Flickr

The Ati-Atihan festival is a joyous celebration of Filipino culture and history. The colorful costumes, lively music, flamboyant face and body paint, and elaborate feasts reflect the vibrant spirit of the Filipino people. For both locals and visitors, the week-long festivities create lasting memories of Philippine pride, faith, and hospitality.

All images have been sourced from Wikipedia and enhanced using Pixelmator Pro's SuperML AI algorithm for clarity.

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