Every town and city in the Philippines celebrates a festival. That’s one of the reasons why we go home right? We love to celebrate and we tend to overate it with street-dancing and elaborate costumes. Of course, we never fail to lean to our religious heritage mixing merry-making and thanksgiving.
The most notable of all these Philippine festivals are those celebrated in the Visayas. Notably, Kalibo’s Ati-Atihan Festival and Cebu’s Sinulog. Joining them is Iloilo’s Dinagyang completing a sisterhood of festivals.
Ati-Atihan has been celebrated for more than 400 years, the oldest organized festival in the country. Hence, the title ” The Mother of Philippine Festivals”. Its name means, ” to be like an Ati”, referring to the Ati tribes, one of the indigenous group of people in the Philippines. From a thanksgiving ritual for a happy harvest to a celebration of friendship with the Malay when the Atis agreed to leave the lowlands and settle in the mountains after a barter. When the Spaniards came, the Ati-Atihan was held during conversion.
The Sinulog mirrors the presence of water among Cebuanos. From the word “sulog” or waves and expressed in a distinct dance movement of Sinulog dancers. Purely religious in origin as they danced and celebrated the Holy Child in their community.
Dinagyang is rooted from the Hiligaynon word, “dagyang” or “to be merry”. Celebrated in the city of Iloilo way back in the 50s, it is a mixture of both Sinulog and Ati-Atihan. The statue of the Holy Child was brought in Iloilo and as a tribute, the locals celebrated the Sinulog while adding their own local flavour that is inclined to that of Ati-Atihan probably because, they are in the same island of Panay. Impressively, the Dinagyang festival has become one of the most iconic festivals in the country today.
They have in common and sometimes it is hard to distinguish among those who are unfamiliar with Philippine festivals. From the streetdancing, elaborate costumes to offering to the Holy Infant Jesus. The reason why these three festivals are simultaneously held in January. The Ati-Atihan and Sinulog has its highlight every third Sunday of January which is also the feast day of the patron. Dinagyang on the other hand is held a week after.
Indeed, January is a month of festivities and giving thanks. The greatest way to kick-off the year.
Viva Pit Senyor! Viva de Santo Niňo!!