Monday, January 25, 2016

Ati-Atihan 2016: Sunday Mass and Final Day Festivities

The last day of Ati-Atihan starts with the Pilgrim's mass which is held at the Kalibo Cathedral at 7AM. A stage is actually set up at the church quadrangle and a very good sound system allows thousands of people at the plaza grounds to hear the mass. I was actually late because the last two days left me exhausted and I overslept yet again but I was happy that I still made it midway through the mass.

At the end of the celebration, the priest exclaims "Viva kay Sr. Sto. Nino" three times, and the crowd responds with a resounding "Viva" each time. The drums then started beating and xylophones sounds filled the air to signal the start of the morning sadsad. All the participating tribes were in the plaza grounds during the mass and it was cool to see them come to life once the music began.

Check out this video to see the end of the mass and the start of the sadsad:

Once again, I started taking photos of the parading tribes and enjoying the festive atmosphere.

During the mass, I saw someone at the cathedral bell tower. I decided that I wanted to go up there myself after the mass to take photos of the parades and enjoy the views. There was no sign that indicated it wasn't allowed to go up and the door to the bell tower was open so I headed up. The staircase starts out with more solid stone or concrete steps but as you get close to the top, you have to ascend a metal spiral staircase which is a bit rickety. It was then that I thought that access to the bell tower should be restricted (or maybe it is and the door was just left open somehow). It was pretty scary heading down the spiral staircase (I was happy and felt a lot safer once I got to the stone/concrete steps) but I am quite happy that I got to take some shots of the crowd from the top.

After spending about an hour at the plaza once the mass ended, I decided to join my relatives for breakfast at Uncle Jack's house. About a dozen of my relatives, most of whom traveled to Kalibo just to join the Ati-Atihan, were there so it was like a breakfast party. At around 11am, Uncle Jack headed out to lead the sadsad of our group of relatives. My two uncles and I were supposed to follow him but we couldn't find them on the streets. We then decided to just go to the house of Uncle Arthur (I call him Uncle but he's actually my grandfather's brother) for lunch.

By early afternoon, I started feeling really tired so I went back to my hotel to rest a bit (I actually fell asleep for about an hour and a half). At that point, I had missed the start of the final procession, and there wouldn't be an easy way for me to find my relatives on the streets of Kalibo anymore. I decided to just go back to Uncle Arthur's house to catch up with him and watch the passing parades. I stayed there for maybe a couple of hours and Uncle Arthur and I got to share many stories. I stayed there for maybe 1-2 hours before going back to my hotel and even after sundown, the processions were still ongoing.

It was an incredible and thoroughly enjoyable first Ati-Atihan experience for me and I will certainly be going back. Hopefully, next time, I will manage my energy well enough to allow me to join that final procession (it takes about 5-6 hours I was told, so you really need to be physically prepared for it).

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