Kalibo, the capital of Aklan is famous for it’s Ati-Atihan festival where the locals celebrate and hold a feast in honor to Senior Sto. Nino (Child Jesus). Ati-Atihan is the grand daddy of all Filipino festivals because the famous Cebu’s Sinulog festival and Iloilo’s Dinagyang festival were all adapted from Ati-Atihan. It was originally a pagan festival practiced by the animistic Ati people for more than 700 years until the Spaniards came and mutated it by adding Catholic elements. Now it is celebrated as a religious festival.
Okay, this blog post has nothing to do with the Ati-Atihan festival because when we visited Kalibo (after Roxas and Panay), the Ati-Atihan was still a month to go. Anyway, when we got here, it was like fiesta (the festival) already because each tribe (group of street dancers and performers) were already busy practicing waking people up with their waist-held drums banging throughout town.
This was my 2nd time in Kalibo and my girlfriend’s first. Thankfully, my good friend (and drinking buddy way back college days in Iloilo) Carlo hosted us in our overnight stay in Kalibo. The last time we jammed together was when he invited me for the Ati-Atihan festival and that was like a decade ago. Thanks bro!
Anyway, if your planning to attend the famous Ati-Atihan Festival then I suggest you should book as early as November or even way earlier. The town can be literally jam-packed with people from all over the country.
La Esparanza Hotel can be a good place and they have decent rooms with nice amenities, but most of all, they have a tub and a working heater! There are other few good hotels as well around town and please take note the word “few” because after all, Kalibo is just a town though it looks more like a small city than a large town.
There’s a hotel beside Latte Coffee Cafe which is Marzon Hotel and if you’re the type who always go for some caffeine fix then I believe Marzon Hotel would be a good place for you and it’s only 5 minutes ride from the Kalibo International Airport. Most of all, visit Latte Coffee Cafe because their food is great! I kid you not!
And to wrap it up…
If my memory serves me right, we didn’t took any lunch at all after our breakfast at Latte Coffee Cafe because we took our breakfast kinda late and it was more than enough for the day. Anyway, that’s a wrap for our breakfast at Kalibo. Next stop: Dinner at Boracay, Aklan
I personally experienced Ati-Atihan way back year 2000 and it was the best local festival I’ve ever been. Yeah, I mean unlike other Filipino festivals where people only watch the street dancing and parades, in Kalibo the whole town literally dance and party along with the street dancers. Yes, crowd participation is so natural you wonder if the people here were like born together to party.
The best part: drinks are handed to you for free as you go parade with everybody. My friend Carlo advised me to wear ordinary clothes and I wondered why. After going around town with the dancing folks, my shirt was wet with beer, I had two beer cans with both hands for free and I was already drunk because the whole neighborhood just handed us drinks as we passed by. I’m not so sure if that is still true today and I no longer drink that much anymore, but yeah, it was fun!