THE SPANIARDS INFLUENCE.... After the Spaniards settled down in the Philippines, some Catholic elements got into the fiesta, especially honoring Santo Niño. A Spanish representative arranged a deal with the local leaders of the Itas'/atis' and the leader of the immigrants from Borneo. The outcome of the deal was, that in the future the existing native celebration would be devoted to the Santo Niño.
Viva kay Santo Niño!
The beginning of the great festival is marked by rythmic and hypnotic drumbeats and dancing. Day 2 is marked by a long procession starting at dawn and ending with a community mass. The last day of the festival sees competitions among groups, dressed as warriors, in colourful costumes, representing different tribes.
The festival closes on the Sunday, with a procession by church members, carrying images of Santo Nino and bamboo torches. This procession is the peak of the fiesta. The street dancers never fail to enter the Ibajay church every time they pass by.
The jingle "Viva kay Santo Niño!" is repeated commonly. Honoring Santo Niño!
The Ati Atihan Festival is also a celebration of harvest thanksgiving and a friendship pact between the native areas and the Malays of the 13th century.
The Ati Atihan Festival is considered by many to be the Mardi Gras of the Philippines