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Temper Ati-atihan festivites

IN THESE times of natural calamities when many of our countrymen suffer from the devastating impact to their lives, properties, and sources of livelihood inflicted by said phenomena, it will be the height of insensitivity for people to indulge in grand celebrations of festivals like the Kalibo Ati-atihan.

Aklanons, particularly Kalibonhons, must celebrate in utmost simplicity and austerity the Ati-atihan festival, less the usual pomp and fanfare which characterized the previous years’ celebrations, and very expensive as well, involving millions of pesos hard-earned money.

After all, the Ati-atihan is all about our devotion to the Sto. Niño, nothing more, nothing less. And for it is mainly to reaffirm and strengthen our faith to the Holy Child, a lengthy celebration is an overdose, if not an overkill. Numerous activities organized for the festival cannot approximate spirituality and religiosity of the event. It is our faith and devotion that matter, not the orgy and the pomposity which has no relevance to purely a religious fiesta.

Ati-atihan tribes, of course, shall be given their day. From Friday to Sunday of streetdancing is already sufficient for them, to include the merrymakers and the Ati-atihan enthusiasts with vows to fulfil for the Sto. Nino.

Tropical depression Quinta was a subtle reminder. Flashfloods again swept Kalibo. Until now some remains of mud are tainting Kalibo’s main thoroughfares. Sunny days transform the mud into a severely dusty atmosphere like the sandstorm in a desert.

Unless Kalibo Mayor William Lachica can exert his goodwill to the rest of the mayors in Aklan and send their firetrucks to Kalibo to flush the muddy/dusty streets of the capital town, I don’t think the atmosphere can be healthy to merrymakers and street dancers. And, I don’t think Kalibo alone can clean fully its streets in time for the Ati-atihan. Until now, no streets decorations are installed because of the messy situation in downtown Kalibo. KASAFI must help finance the clean up to augment the calamity funds of the town. KASAFI must not be complacent on the situation by assuming a lead role in the clean up and scrap irrelevant activities in its Ati-atihan calendar which do not bear significance to the spirit of the celebration, a purely religious feast.

Most importantly, KASAFI, the Kalibo Ati-atihan Tourism Council and the Aklan Provincial Tourism Council should come up with a monitoring system to measure arrival of devotees and tourists from other places, coming to Kalibo purposely for the feast. Without it, there is no use to promote the festival. These bodies are used to be contented by just saying, “the current year’s Ati-atihan is better than last year, “or, “there were many people this year than last year” without any form of reliable measurement.

DEPED’s scheduled streetdancing promises to be a very “bonggacious” event, too expensive as well. I heard every teacher in the division is shelling out not less than P300 for the affair, not counting expenses for their costumes. Multiply that with several thousand teachers, wow, that can feed several mouths of Filipinos hardest hit by typhoon Pablo and Quinta. Scrap that event at all cost.

Typhoon Pablo did not deter groups, associations, institutions, worst, government offices from holding expensive Christmas parties.

photo By Mike A. Kouklis (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons