I’m in the small city of Kalibo for a festival called Ati-Atihan which I think is a celebration of native Filipinos. I should probably know what it’s all about, that’s pretty bad. As far as I’m concerned it has been a parade with street dancing and lots of drums and costumes and lots of booze consumption by tourists and locals alike. There are places to buy beer every few metres.
The place is packed with people watching the dancers. I even seemed to attract a crowd of my own when I stopped to put some sunscreen on. A little crowd of kids approached and I thought they had their hand out for money but it turns out they just wanted sunscreen. Well, I hope they did. If they did want money then they will have gone away feeling totally ripped off. I can understand how I might have attracted a crowd though… I’m sure my disturbingly pasty white skin with red splotches of sun burn would have attracted attention anywhere.
The basic idea is that there are loads of different groups of people, each with their own costumes and some with small floats that have been rigged up on the top of motorbike tricycles. All of them have drums, some have xylophone things and crowds of people dance along behind while others watch from the sidelines. This goes on all day long with everyone getting progressively drunker. I don’t know how the little kids can march and dance for so long in the hot sun with giant costumes hanging from their heads. I’m undecided about whether it’s a new form of child abuse or not.
I was watching along with the rest of the crowds and was dragged in to dance by my new friend who I will call Stalker Boy. He kept ‘accidentally’ grabbing my ass. But besides that little problem he was ok and one of his mates was the boss of one of the groups and got me a gig as a drummer! So I was marching along, drumming badly and thinking up new forms of ass grab defense for ages and had a damn fine time.
A bunch of us grabbed a bite in some back alley restaurant that, now that I think about it, didn’t seem like a restaurant at all but someone’s house. Then we ended up at a video karaoke place and then I made a run for it from Stalker Boy because he was getting just a bit too ass grabby.
All up a really great festival, good music, nice people and I had a blast!