Ati-Atihan Festival – The Philippines’ Mardi Gras

Is Kalibo’s Ati-Atihan Festival better than New Orleans’ Mardi Gras?


In 1212, as legend has it, 10 Bornean datu (chiefs), fleeing the collapse of the once-mighty Srivijayan empire, sailed northwards with their followers and landed on the island of Panay. At that time, Panay was widely populated by Negritos. The Bornean Malays, although superior fighters and better armed than the Negritos, chose not to take the island by force but rather to buy it from the native inhabitants. They struck a deal with the local chieftain. A contract was made between Datu (chieftain) Puti of the Bornean and the Negritos’ chief Marikudo. There the Borneans bought the coastal lands from the native Negrito inhabitants with gold, pearls and other ornaments.

ati-group-kalibo-festival- Photo Credit –

This legendary barter between Malays and native inhabitants is commemorated yearly in what is the most popular, colorful and exuberant festival in the whole country featuring a Mardi Gras like revelry worth a trip to Kalibo…

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