The indigenous people of Boracay Island are called Negritos or Ati lived here for centuries before anyone else started to come to this island paradise. They still farm and fish the way their ancestors did, but of course, you find more than a few of them working in tourism too.
The Ati have a rich and traditional culture. Their language, handicrafts, and style of living are all unique to Boracay. Each year there is a major festival in January to celebrate their culture. It’s called the Ati-Atihan de Boracay festival and is worthy of a special trip to Boracay Island. Their traditional culture and means of living have changed with the onset of mass tourism, but survives and has adapted well to the changes it has encountered.
Me with Negrito Kids
While you can still find plenty of Ati copra (dried coconut) plantations on Boracay, these days you are more likely to meet Ati people in the many restaurants, dive shops, and bars that the island has. I tend to stay away from closed-in bars but I’ve been known to sit underneath a beach cabana roof and sip a Mojito or a cold San Miguel beer (SMB) while staring out at the water and planning my next adventure. Like now.
A Mojito, by the way is not indigenous to the Philippines but in all my travels, I’ve never tasted better ones than those here. Maybe it’s the scenery, but I tend to think it’s the local mint that does the trick. The drink originated in Cuba and is made from rum, sugar, lime, mint, and a bit of fizzy water. Nothing else tastes so good on a hot tropical day.
As I sit here now, writing this, my Ati friend has just brought me another of these incredibly refreshing drinks. I can’t believe that I almost missed everything this tropical paradise island has to offer because I was afraid it would be too touristy. The Philippines is filled with great destinations and especially in the Visayas you can find amazing beaches and water, but really, not much can compare with sipping a Mojito among the Negrito.