Ati-atihan de Boracay Festival

Filipinos never run out of reasons to celebrate, in fact all of towns and cities in the entire archipelago have their own Festivals. Ati-atihan in Kalibo started it all, then equally colorful festivals followed honoring Santo Niño, the child Jesus.

The Kalibo’s famous Ati-atihan festival is considered to be “The Mother of all Philippine Festivals”, which was eventually copied by other similar festivals across the Philippines such as the: Dinagyang of Iloilo, Halaran of Capiz, Binirayan of Antique, MassKara of Bacolod, Biniray Festival of Romblon and Sinulog of Cebu.

Just like Boracay, several towns of Aklan, Antique, and Capiz also hold their own localized version of Ati-Atihan festival. In each festival the participants paint their faces with black soot and wear bright tribal costumes as they dance on the streets shouting “Hala Bira” or “Viva Santo Niño.

I was also in Boracay last January 2008 and that was the first time I witnessed the Ati-atihan de Boracay. When I learned from Jing of The Taj Guesthouse that the festival will be held on the second sunday of January, I immediately booked my ticket with SEAIR and planned my trip.

It was cold and beautiful sunday morning, I woke up late but I was told that the parade will start at exactly 9:30am so I headed to Balabag Plaza to join the Sunday Mass and to take photos of the festival participants. The Balabag Plaza was full packed with participants who are preparing for the parade while celebrating the holy mass.

Hundreds of Santo Niño images were placed in front of the stage during the celebration of the holy mass as part of their devotion. The parade route started in Balabag Plaza, so after taking photographs I decided to go to Real Coffee at Station 1 to have some breakfast.

The weather was cloudy when the parade started, but we were blessed with clear blue skies and the smiling sun right in the middle of the parade. It was fun but unlike the celebration in Kalibo, Boracay’s version though is less colorful and vibrant since costumes are not really required to participate but I could tell it was truly enjoyed by foreign tourists.

Some of Taiwanese, Russian, and American tourists joined in the parade by painting their faces and dancing with the rumbling and energetic drum beat in Boracay’s famous white beach.

It was my second time to witness Ati-atihan festival in Boracay and I really enjoyed being there to witness their own version of Ati-atihan but I hope to see the participants wearing colorful tribal costumes in the next few years.

The festival is just one other reason for you to visit Boracay but even if you missed the endless dancing and partying by the beach, Don’t worry because the parties are endless on the Island. Just like what I always say, “Filipinos never run out of reasons to celebrate.” Boracay is indeed the land of happy people so stay happy and till next:)

– Melo in Boracay Island / January 9-11,2009.

Make your trip to Boracay seamless by securing advance hotel and flight bookings. South East Asian Airlines offers the fastest and the most number of flights to Boracay in just 35 minutes from Manila to Caticlan. For fast and easy Boracay air ticket reservation call SEAIR hotline 02/ 849 0100 or you can book online by visiting

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