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!

Boracay Island, Philippines : Timeless Beauty

You wanna know what the white beach in the world looks like? Let me take you to the Philippines, where Boracay Beach stands out.

Summer never truly ends in the Philippines which brings the locals and tourist to a perfect haven. By witnessing its beautiful white sand beaches, blue crystal clear waters, sunrise and sunset, serene atmosphere, and fresh salty air; you know that you’re in the ultimate vacation island of the Philippines, Boracay! This has been always my summer go-to beach or anytime I feel stressed out.

Boracay Island is part of Aklan Province, located specifically in Caticlan. According to the local tourism of Aklan, in the year 2015, it was visited by 1.5 million tourists coming from different parts of the world.

Boracay is one tiny island but there are more reasons for millions of people to cross an ocean and visit the Philippines.

It has become the face of tourism in the country since then. Boracay is considered one of the astonishing hotspots in the Philippines and one of the top islands in the world. This piece of beach paradise is always on the must-visit list of every tourist. People go here to unwind and take a time off from the busy zone of the city. It has been popularly known as the top destination for relaxation, tranquility, and nightlife.

This place is seriously an all-in-one packed with everything.

It is a home of hundreds of beach resorts, hotels, restaurants, bars, activity area, and businesses; that will suit every taste and budget of any traveler. The island is adorned with several white sand beaches; the most famous of which is the one known as “White Beach”, as the name implies, this beach is the fairest of them all. This is also the commercial center of the island and also never miss the amazing sunset this beach is famous for.

What composes the Island?

This island is divided into three stations; Station 1 is a 3.5-kilometer white beach, it has the finest white sand in the entire island. This is where the most luxurious resorts, restaurants, and bars are found. Station 2 is considered the busiest area, where you can find the most famous mall on the island (D’mall). Many varieties of shops and restaurants are found here. Station 3 is the most peaceful and less crowded part the island, where you can find cheaper deals in the southern end.

If you find White Beach very busy and you’re looking for something low key and just want a relaxing trip, the next island suits your taste; it is known as “Bulabog Beach”. When you suddenly crave for peace and serenity with fewer people going around, head on to the next island popularly known as “Puka Shell Beach”. Whatever it is that you prefer as a traveler, Boracay got a place for you.

How to get on the Island?

There are two ways to get to this island. If you’re coming from Hongkong, Singapore, or Seoul; you can fly directly to Kalibo, Philippines. Or if you’re coming to everywhere else, you can drop by Manila, the capital of the Philippines and fly to Caticlan, the airport that is much closer to the island. When you get there, you can take the Southwest Bus from Kalibo Airport to Boracay, it is more convenient compared to the vans, They can also facilitate your boat transfer from Caticlan to Boracay. Upon arriving in Boracay Island, a tricycle can take you to your booked hotel.

Every time I travel here, I see to it that I can try new things or be in a new station for my accommodation. This time, I checked in with the Bambooze Hauz, located in Station 3 of the White Beach. The hotel is affordable and offers a very good accommodation.

What to Eat and Where to Chill?

Dining on the island is diverse. This party island has the most popular restaurants to date, flaunting their sumptuous and delicious meals. Few of these are; Real Coffee & Tea Café offering the most talked about Calamansi Muffins and every breakfast craving you have had. They serve different breakfast meals, and yes this place will convince you that Breakfast doesn’t only deserve a coffee. (Cos I don’t normally eat breakfast, Coffee is my everyday breakfast) I find myself in awe and I will probably start eating every morning.

The Banana Peanut Shake at Jonah’s is something I always have when I’m on the island. Jonah’s is an icon of fruit shakes in Boracay, which means everything in their list is worth a try.

D’Talipapa offering their very own Dampa-style wet market wherein you can have your food cooked and watch them as they do it, and Merly’s BBQ offering a home of the original chori burger made of Filipino longaniza.

You will never starve!

My favorite dining place is always I Backyard BBQ located nearly D’mall at Station 2, it is labeled as the “KING OF THE GRILL”. They have the best tastiest baby back ribs, BBQ, Chicken, and a lot more. You have to arrive really early before every meal time to avoid waiting for your table. (People usually fall-in-line just to dine)

When you get hungry, thirsty, and a bit tired in the afternoon, there’s a nice place to chill. Spider House is located at Tambisaan Jetty Port Road, just a bit farther from station 3. The Bamboo built Resort/Restaurant has a lot to offer; from a unique accommodation, a spectacular sunset straight from the best view on the island, very relaxing and inviting couches, and the food are outstanding!


Gypsea Shack formerly Hoy Panga is a must visit Bar and Restaurant on the island. it is the home of the best-grilled tuna and all festive food in the Philippines.

Fine dining right at the beach with French-Mediterranean food when you dine in Degustacion at Sandbar Beach Club. For Pizza and Pasta, Caruso at The District hotel is a winner. For Japanese, there’s Sushi Shi-ro at Bulabog Beach, where your Sushi and Sashimi are made right in front of you.

Boredom has no place in the Island

Not to mention this island has a lot of water and land activities to offer. Just like Parasailing, Paddle Boat Riding, Flyfish, Banana Boat Ride, Cliff Diving, Atv, and etc.

No one thought this small island can have it all. It blooms every single day, not knowing it has been a fun part of every single person’s life who indulged in it. Usually, people who came to this island tend to visit the place for a few days, but for some, they chose to stay and make a living. The memories of Boracay experiences are too fast at night time but seems like fast approaching at daylight.

The white beach is full of dreamy paraws (outrigger sailboat) giving rides, colorful parasails fly through the air, perfect scenery, many food choices, the live music breaks out, fire dancers twirl their batons while spinning fire, and the party goes on all night until dawn.

Boracay is a place where you can find everything that you have been looking for in a vacation destination, everything is considered. It’s going to be worth a try to visit it if you haven’t yet. Then, grab that cocktail by the beach, sit on the bean bag and see what the paradise has to offer.