The Ati are a Negrito ethnic group in Panay, which is located in the Visayas (Islands of Cebu, Bohol, Siquijor, Leyte, Samar, Panay, Masbate, Negros and Guimaras), the central portion of the Philippine archipelago. They are genetically related to other Negrito ethnic groups in the Philippines such as the Aeta of Luzon, the Batak of Palawan, and the Mamanwa of Mindanao.
In the Philippines the Aetas or Aeta ancestors were the ‘aboriginals’ or the first inhabitants of this Archipelago. They most probably arrived from Borneo 20-30,000 years ago, through what is thought to be an isthmus (remnants of which today comprise the island of Palawan) that in the prehistoric epoch connected the Philippine archipelago to Borneo via a land bridge. According to some oral traditions, they also predate the Bisaya, who now inhabit most of the Visayas.
Legends, such as those involving the Ten Bornean Datus and the Binirayan Festival, tell tales about how, at the beginning of the 12th century, the ancestors of the Bisaya escaped from Borneo from the persecution of Rajah Makatunaw. Led by Datu Puti and Datu Sumakwel and sailing with boats called balangays, they landed near a river called Suaragan, on the southwest coast of Panay, and bartered the land from an Ati headman named Polpolan and his son Marikudo for the price of a necklace and one golden salakot. The hills were left to the Atis while the plains and rivers to the Malays. This meeting is commemorated through the Ati-atihan festival, although this legend is challenged by some historians.
During the Spanish colonization, the tribe made contact with the conquistador Legazpi and were made useful in his colonization of Panay. Currently, the tribe is threatened due to encroachments into their territory, recently seen in Boracay. Another problem they face is discrimination.
Tourism came to the island beginning in about the 1970s after years of being kept as a secret destination. The movie “Too Late the Hero” was filmed in 1970 on locations in Boracay and Caticlan. In the 1980s, the island became popular as a budget destination for backpackers, and by the 1990s, Boracay’s beaches were being acclaimed as the best in the world.
Boracay Island and its beaches have received awards from numerous travel publications and agencies. Apart from its white sand beaches, the island is also famous for being one of the world’s top destinations for relaxation. Depending upon your point of view, Boracay is among the top destinations for tranquility and nightlife.
In 2012, the Philippine Department of Tourism reported that Boracay had been named the world’s second best beach after Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos Islands, and was awarded as the best island in the world from the international travel magazine Travel + Leisure.
Until next time!