KALIBO, Aklan — The "Ati-Atihan’’ festival, one of the Philippines’ most famous tourist attractions now under way here, will culminate on Sunday, Jan. 16 to coincide with the Feast of Sto. Niño (Holy Child).
The Ati celebration is expected to draw from 500,000 to one million local and foreign participants.
Gov. Carlito "Lito’’ Marquez and Vice Gov. Ronquillo Tolentino, along with Aklan mayors led by Kalibo Mayor Raymar Rebaldo, Malay Mayor Ceciron "Dodong’’ Cawaling, New Washington Mayor Edmund Peralta, Libacao Mayor Charito Navarro, and Batan Mayor Heroditus "Olong’’ Ramos expect that Aklanons from around the country and abroad will participate in the "Ati-Atihan’’ and Sto. Niño Fiesta festivities.
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Vice President Noli de Castro, Tourism Secretary Joseph Ace S. Durano, Philippine Tourism Authority general manager Robert Dean S. Barbers, PAGCOR chairman Efraim C. Genuino and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office chairman Sergio Valencia, are expected to grace the occasion.
More than 1,000 icons of the Sto. Niño will be carried by participants and revelers in the procession that takes place on Sunday afternoon, as they shout "Hala Bira, Pwera Pasma Viva Kay Señor Sto. Niño.’’
From Kalibo, Ati-Atihan visitors are expected to make a side trip to Boracay Islands, only 50 minutes by land transportation from here, or see the equally beautiful coastlines and islands in Washington and Batan towns. (Yul Malicse)