Saturday, January 22, 2011

party all night

We arrived in Kalibo late afternoon of 14 January 2011, not knowing that when the locals said that the fiesta would be from the 10th until the 16th, they were serious. I mean, we had been to other fiestas in other places around the Philippines, and based on previous experience, only the last Saturday and Sunday are worth the trip, and for only half a day at that. (Sorry, Davao. Sorry, Bacolod.)

When we went to the church to run an errand with Kaleidosflora, it was obvious that people had been going at it for days and days already. To call it a mere fiesta or festival is an injustice. I had never seen or experienced anything like Ati-atihan. It was a multi-day, drink-until-you-drop, non-stop street-dancing party with RELIGIOUS significance. The revelers would only pause to eat, literally.

The Ati-atihan is a religious event held every January to honor the Santo NiƱo-- the Infant Jesus.
The cathedral of St. John the Baptist all lit up by colored spotlights. Hokey, but fun.
There were hundreds of devotees in the churchyard, though there was no mass and it was already past dinnertime.

And right across the church, it was pandemonium at the plaza.

The municipality of Kalibo, Aklan province's sleepy little capital-- NOT!

Why is popcorn so popular during town fiestas?

Already cooked and packed for maximum speed and efficiency.
Who knew that popcorn could be so dramatic?

Beside the popcorn cart, this little boy sold two kinds of roasted peanuts from plastic buckets.

One of those serendipitous shots. The light on his face made this a really interesting picture.

Father and son check out the toys in this vendor's colorful display.

What is it about neon lights that immediately signals "par-tay"?

After walking around the plaza for an hour, we went back to the churchyard, where Kaleidosflora had just finished arranging the flowers for this tiny float. There was a procession of Infant Jesus statues scheduled at 4AM-- to be attended by the same people who had been drinking and dancing the night before. Amazing, right?

Simple, but pretty. The lilies gave off a wonderful perfume.

Our highly-energized first evening... and we hadn't even seen the dancers yet.

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