IN PHOTOS: Dinagyang culminates with intense Ati-Atihan

Jeeves de Veyra

Posted at Feb 04 2018 09:53 PM

ILOILO -- Iloilo’s Dinagyang festival culminated last January 28 with the Ati-atihan Tribal Dance Competition. Ten tribes from all over the Panay region converged in Iloilo City to participate in a competition of dance, music, and artistry that highlights the region’s special devotion to the Sto. Nino.

In a trip organized by AirAsia Philippines, ABS-CBN News and select media and bloggers were able to witness this tribal dance competition, which used the same carousel route and mechanics as the Kasadyahan Festival the previous day. 

The tribes went around the Iloilo City Central Business district to perform at five judging stations. This year a saw special performance from overseas guests, notably Korean contingents performing high-energy K-pop cheerdance routines and a New Zealand group performing the haka.

While the competition routines were shorter than their Kasadyahan counterparts, they were more focused and more intense. All of them told the story of their part of the Panay region and the coming of the Sto. Nino to their shores. Resonating with the frenzied beat of our local drum and bass, these are deeply spiritual stories that talk about their regional history and culture.


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Students from PyeongChang, South Korea joined to promote the upcoming Winter Olympics.

Miss Dinagyang “Golden Girl” 2018 Demi Patria Jainga is escorted by Star Magic actor Mark Rivera in between the Ati-Atihan performances.

The moment the first mobile panels part, it’s non-stop movement and action until the end of the routine. The acts are shorter than the ones from the Kasadyahan, but more focused and more intense.

The Ati-Atihan is distinct for the black ash the participants put all over their body to pay homage to their ancestors.

The Ati-Atihan routines are stories of how the warrior tribes lived before and up until the arrival of the Sto. Nino.

The bigger headdresses are absolutely spectacular to look at.

With these headdresses huddled in a group on the stage, the combination of colors is breathtaking.

Upon closer inspection, the detail on each headdress show off the hard work, ingenuity, and the quality of local material that goes into each.

Horses of War with magnificent manes seem to be inspiration of these headdresses

The arrival of the Santo Nino is often the climax of the Ati-Atihan routine.

The Ati-Atihan’s focus on the Sto. Nino is a testament to the devotion of the people of the Panay region to the Child Jesus.

Tribu Payanon was named the grand winner of the Ati-Atihan competition at the closing ceremonies of the Dinagyang Festival later that evening. 

It was an emotional win for Tribu Payanon as the 2013,2014, and 2015 as Ati-Atihan champion took back the grand prize this year winning a trophy, P250,000, and an invitation to perform at this year’s Philippine Independence Day rites in New York City.