KALIBO, Aklan – Street dancing continues to be the top tourist drawer in the annual Santo Niño Ati-Atihan Festival in this capital town.
The weekend called Bisperas ag Kaadlawan it Kapistahan ni Senor Santo Niño de Kalibo is the most popular among visitors, according to Albert Menez, chairman of the Kalibo Santo Niño Ati-Atihan Foundation, Inc. (Kasafi), the festival organizer.
Next year, that weekend will be on Jan. 20 and 21.
Festivities on Jan. 20 will start with a dawn penitential procession of devotees and their caros at 4 a.m. on major streets at the poblacion.
At 8 a.m., Ati-Atihan tribe members will take to the streets with their colorful costumes and dance to the beat of drums.
According to F300 and Everfest, the Sadsad Ati-Atihan contest and the creativity and color of traditional Ati-Atihan costumes are matched only by the Carnival in Brazil and the Mt. Hagen Cultural Festival in Papua New Guinea.
For the locals, street dancing, or sadsad, is a display of high spirits, with constant movement, drumming and feasting.
Merrymakers, including tourists, are always up for the spontaneous activity that continues late into the night.
By Sunday, Jan. 21 – the Kaadlawan it Kapistahan – pilgrims will witness the transfer of the Señor Santo Niño de Kalibo image from its Shrine to the front yard of the Cathedral of John the Baptist at 6:30 a.m. before the Pilgrims Mass usually at 7 a.m.
After the mass, the festive sadsad will again dominate the festival as the all-day street dancing erupts amid pounding drums and the chanting of “Viva, viva, Señor Santo Niño!”
A religious dance procession may be held from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. before devotees move the Child Jesus image back to the Shrine inside the cathedral. (With Aklan Forum Journal/PN)