Ati-Atihan Festival in Kalibo, Aklan: The Mother of all Philippine Festivals

Ati-Atihan is the largest and oldest Catholic celebration in the Philippines. It legally holds the title “Mother of all Philippine Festivals”. Ati-Atihan means “to be like Atis” or “to make believe Atis”

Kalibo is the gateway of the most famous party island in the Philippines, Boracay. To everyone’s knowledge, it is also the home of the legendary festival all of us enjoy celebrating.

The Ati-Atihan Festival is held on the third week, concluding on the third Sunday of January in Kalibo, Aklan, Philippines. It originated during the 13th century when Aeta aborigines arrived and wanted to settle on the island. The chief minister traded with the natives and bought goldenseal coat, brass basin, and bales of cloth. The festival was born then.

When the Spanish arrived, they adapted the festival to eliminate the pagan rituals and incorporate various religious practices, thus, the Sto. Nino (The Infant Jesus) made its appearance in the Ati-Atihan Festival, even until now.

This event also corresponds another festival around the Philippines, like Sinulog Festival in Cebu and the Dinagyang Festival in Iloilo. The festival itself is marked by the people joining in the streets, dancing to fantastic drum beats. It consists of tribal dance, street music accompanied by members of indigenous tribes in their costumes and weapons. There are also parade of their designated floats and Sto. Nino while dancing or what we commonly known as, “sad-sad” short for dance “sayaw” and walk “lakad” in our Filipino dialect.

Ati-Atihan’s catchphrase “Hala Bira! Pwera Pasma!” is formerly associated with the festival as the merrymakers and believers keep on going with the revelries all over the town.

As traditional processions go, the actual procession was anything but traditional. People bring the image of Sto. Nino (the infant Jesus). Instead of walking, people do sad-sad with a lots of taking pictures, videos, talking, cheering, drinking on the street, and accompanied by a marching band. During the parades, alcohol flows freely, firecrackers and other noisemaking are honestly not uncommon.

Photo Credit to Trixie Orola

I’ve been participating in Ati-Atihan for seven years and until now, the hype doesn’t change. People starting celebrating from early morning to the wee hours of the next morning, rain or shine, for one week or even more. Amid our cheering and drinking, we were entertained by fireworks blossoming in the sky from time to time.

The main show is held on Saturday Night, where a massive night party brings everyone together to dance the night away and gaze up as lights and fireworks illuminate the sky. One of the most famous party house in Kalibo is the Abregana Bar, you wouldn’t spend your happy hour anywhere but here. As dusk sets in, there are DJs doing there magic making the crowd having those cutting edge dance moves. Definitely a nice place to end the night!

The festival ends on Sunday, where there’s a high mass in the morning around 7:00 am followed by the grand parade of the tribes representing different groups that competes for tourists’ attention and prizes.

It has been always a great experience to be at the Ati-Atihan Festival this year. I am looking forward to join the festival in the succeeding years.

Have you been to Ati-Atihan Festival? Share your experience at the comment section below! Or if you haven’t yet, consider joining next time. Safe Travels!

Life has its Own Way of Working Things Out

Life comes in different packages. What we will have, it’s a surprise! Either you’ll have the economy, regular or deluxe suite. But whatever it is, you have to live like YOLO (You Only Live Once). Live like everything is falling into its proper places though some things isn’t. Yes, there will always be lapses, mistakes, troubles, and betrayals but who cares, we aren’t perfect. Embrace the imperfections and learn how to dance with it using your normal coping mechanisms.

Life. (*sigh) Yeah, not so easy. It’s actually complicated and bold. But you know what? We just have to jump in and swim through it until we finally figure out our purpose. We will never know unless we try to and we will never ever realize how amazing life could turn out. After all, life is too short for playing safe.

Go out, Explore, Work, Travel, Socialize, Fall in love, Get hurt, Heal and Grow

Don’t be so dramatic and uptight to stay in your house just to; eat and get fat, watch television which is so pathetically overrated and sleep all day as if you’ve done enough for the day. Darling, life has a lot to offer. It doesn’t end in that four-wall room. Your life isn’t something you can rewind.There’s no such thing as fairy God-mother who will help you out to get away from your awful and sad living. Magic isn’t real until you make your own. So get up and help yourself, take that happy pill and put some glow on your face. Remember, never ever fear of being vulgar, fear of being boring.

If you’ll ask me about my learnings now that I’m twenty-seven, I would say “Love yourself” Quite simple, right? But that is one thing we tend to neglect all the time. Give value to your own being, treat yourself after a whole hell week at work. It will really help to bring back the good aura. Well, I kinda spoil myself in terms of that.

In this bizarre world, I’ve learned how to hold on when almost everything in me is falling apart, to strive when I have no choice and to make use of the things that I have when I think I’m losing too much. Life is kinda bumpy but I wouldn’t mind riding with it cos in this perfect way, I know I’m growing.

Oslob, Cebu: A Humbling Experience to Swim with the Whale Sharks

Oslob is one of the municipalities in the province of Cebu, Philippines. This is the only place in the world where you can swim with whale sharks anytime of the year. There is something so majestic about the ocean and what lives within it. It’s a whole other world. Despite their intimidating name, whale sharks are some of the friendliest giants that live in the sea.

Whale Sharks is a sheltered species in the Philippines and Under Republic Act 9147, an Act for the conservation and protection of wildlife resources and habitats in the Philippines, it is definitely illegal to harass them. So we better be responsible to comply with the guidelines in the activity area.

The story behind the trending “Swim with the Whale Sharks” Adventure

Generations ago, the fishermen would throw baits into the water to catch fish but then the whale sharks would end up eating their baits. So what these fishermen did, they would throw away the bait farther to divert the whale sharks. But then, later on, the whale sharks would keep coming back to the fishermen’s bait and eat it. So this happens for generations and generations ago.

There’s an NGO (non-governmental organization)that actually takes care and protects the whale sharks in Oslob. LAMAUVE, these people have been in Oslob for years already to monitor the compliance of interaction regulations. They have taken care of 600 whale sharks just in Oslob. Imagine how many whale sharks are there? The fishermen have been feeding them for generations. They have created a livelihood for these fishermen too. The tours they have here for this activity are pretty respectable when it comes to eco-system and to the animals as well.

When you go swim with the whale sharks, they’re about 8 to 10 whale sharks that actually go to the same place every day from 9 am to 12nn. They will conduct a 10-20 minutes orientation before starting the activity. It is really important to follow and cooperate with the tourism for the rules and regulations before starting to swim with the whale sharks.

I am in complete awe, humbled by the opportunity to share the same waters with the 60 million-year-old species.

Whale Sharks Interaction in Oslob and its Controversy

It has been the most talked about matter since it started the craze. Some people don’t support this activity, while some happen to be enjoying the rare adventure. It became very controversial because most people don’t abide the interaction code and conduct. Many tourists breach the guidelines given during the thorough briefings, and sadly they are not penalized.

How to get to Oslob, Cebu

Fly with Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, and Air Asia daily between Manila and Cebu

When you’re coming from Cebu City, you can head to the South Bus Terminal and ride a Ceres bus going to Bato via Liloan. Just don’t forget to tell the conductor to drop you off at Brgy. Tan-awan in Oslob for the Whale Shark watching just along the highway. The trip would take about 3 hours. Bus fair would cost you around Php 150-200.

When you’re from Dumaguete going to Oslob, look for multi-cabs to Sibulan Port. Ride a ferry or fastcraft to Liloan. At Liloan port, board a Ceres bus going to Cebu City and tell the conductor to drop you off at Oslob Shark Watching just along the highway.

It’s such a wonderful experience, a tick off my bucket list. I was scared at first, but the old saying were true, that when you’re already there you just have to go for it. After all, they don’t bite.

Fees in Whale Shark Watching in Oslob

Local Tourists

Includes Whale watching in the boat with no swimming, with life jacket, costs Php300
Includes Snorkeling with Whale Sharks with life jacket, costs Php500

Foreign Tourists

Includes Snorkeling with Whale Sharks with life jacket, costs Php1000

Whale Sharks Watching in Oslob lasts for 30 minutes only and available daily from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm only.

A quick tip: Go early as you can because there are so many people hungry for the experience as you do too. Safe travels!