“I feel a little tipsy” I told my friends. I think it was a bad idea to drink that cupful of emperador in one gulp. I couldn’t refuse the drink out of good gesture from the locals. Now I’m wondering if the lechon I’m looking at has really lost the rest of its body with only the head left rotating on the fire. The Barotuan Festival parade hasn’t even started yet and I find myself trying to find a seat to gather my senses back. I guess if you go to any ati-atihan celebration, there’s always a chance you’ll get a little alcohol in your system aside from that little soot on your face.
It was last year when I first witnessed the Barotuan Festival. It’s basically an ati-atihan celebration from the town of Barotuan found an hour north of El Nido town proper. Most of the people of this town were descended from Aklan migrants. To celebrate their ancestry and roots, the people celebrate Ati-atihan to honor the patron saint Sto Niño.
Behind the Scenes
This year’s Barotuan Festival is a lot modest. There were less participating groups due to lack of funds. Their costumes mostly were made of cheap and recycled materials but that didn’t stop them from being creative. Before the parade started, we visited the different groups who were competing for the street dance. It was interesting to see how they prepare and put on their costumes. They even made use of real paint on their bodies it know can be real uncomfortable for the kids. But we could see the dedication from the kids once they started their parade.
We didn’t stay for the dance competition but we heard yet again that Baranggay Taberna took home the main prize again. They have been unchallenged for more than a decade now.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.