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Ati-Atihan: Colorful Beyond Comprehension


Ati-Atihan is a story of intertribal acceptance, immigration, and transformation, but in short, it’s the story of the Philippines’ first real estate deal.

In the 13th century, Malay refugees fleeing Borneo were allowed to settle in what is now the town of Kalibo in Aklan, Philippines, by the generous and darker-skinned Ati tribe. To honor their new friends for granting them refuge and territory rights, the emigrant Malay Datu tribe painted their skin with dark pigments and threw a feast for the ages.

It wasn’t long until the Ati tribe, starving from a poor harvest, descended from their home in the mountains to enlist the help of the Datus. The people had not forgotten the Ati’s past kindness and returned the favor by feeding them. The Ati expressed their gratitude through song and dance.