The Philippines–Ati Atihan


Ati-Atihan is a week-long, Mardi Gras-like street party that takes place around the third Sunday in January in the town of Kalibo in the province of Aklan on the island of Panay. Ati-Atihan began in the 13th century when light-skinned Malay immigrants from Borneo painted their faces black as a way to honor the local animist Ati people who had offered them land and food when they arrived on the island; the immigrants returned the favor when rain ruined the harvests in the Ati highlands and joined in the Ati celebration of the deed. Later the Spanish, added a religious element to what what primarily a pagan festival, using it to honor the baby Jesus. Today festival-goers paint their faces with black soot, don costumes and dance from dusk until dawn in the streets to pulsating drum beats, chanting, “Hala bira, puera pasma!,” or “Let’s go! Don’t get sick!”

More information:
Images of a very colorful Ati-Atihan | History and customs of Ati-Atihan: BOOM BOOM BOOM BO BOOM BO BO BO BOOM! BOOM BOOM BOOM BO BOOM BO BO BO BOOM!

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