The Filipino Ati-Atihan Festival is a world-renown celebration in Aklan (an island in the Philippines), similar to the Mardi Gras in Rio and New Orleans. Every third weekend of January, over a million people flock to the town of Kalibo and the surrounding towns in Aklan for tribal dance, music, accompanied by indigenous costumes and weapons, and a parade. In North America, Ati-atihan is held in most major cities, such as New York/New Jersey, Los Angeles and Vancouver.
Toronto’s Ati-atihan party is this Saturday, Jan. 9, starting at 5pm at the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Toronto, located at 5183 Sheppard Ave. E. in Scarborough.
The event, which is open to the public, begins with a Catholic mass, followed by the dance competition, a dinner featuring popular Filipino dishes, and social dancing. York University dance Professor Patrick Alcedo will be playing a leading role as a cultural adviser and chair of the board of judges.
This annual celebration is a very well attended event. “Last year, we had about 500 guests, and this coming year, we are expecting more,” according to United Aklanon Association of Toronto (UAAT) president Bobby dela Cruz. “We had a great costume competition among the different groups. We are inviting other groups to join us in this joyful celebration”.
Tickets for the dinner-dance-party are $25.00 for adults and $10.00 for children between 5 to 12 years old. Kids under 5 years old are free. Tickets are available from any UAAT officer or member, or by calling Bobby at (905) 625-9300 or Vicky at (416) 929-2457; or send an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org.