The Ati are a Negrito ethnic group in the Visayas, the central portion of the Philippine archipelago. Their small numbers are principally concentrated in the islands of Boracay, Panay and Negros. 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.
|est. 2,000+ (1980: 1,500 speakers of Ati)|
|Regions with significant populations|
|Ati, Aklanon/Malaynon, Hiligaynon,|
Kinaray-a, Filipino, English,
|Animism, Christianity (Roman Catholic)|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Other Negritos, Visayans, and Filipinos|
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 when Indonesia and Philippines were under the rule of Indianized native kingdoms, 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, (the place then known as Aninipay), 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. This legend, though, is challenged by some historians.
Although Atis were aboriginal inhabitants of Boracay island, as the island gained fame for its white sand beaches and tourism developed apace in the latter years of the 1970s they lost their ancestral lands and many became homeless and faced discrimination. Consequently, many migrated to the mainland and especially around nearby Caticlan. However, in November 2018, land titles of 3.2 hectares (out of the more than 600 hectares of the whole island) were handed over to Atis. 
The Aeta of the north speak Sambalic languages, which are part of the Central Luzon family. The Ati speak a Visayan language known as Inati. As of 1980, the speakers of Inati number about 1,500. Hiligaynon and Kinaray-a are also commonly used.
The Ati practice a form of animism that involves good and evil spirits. These spirits are nature spirits that often guard rivers, the sea, the sky, as well as the mountains. Sometimes, they may cause disease or comfort. The Ati from Negros refer to them as taglugar or tagapuyo, which literally means "inhabiting a place." Christianity has also been adopted due to less isolation and more contact with "outsiders".
Not too long ago, like other Negritos in the country, their clothing was simple, with women wearing wraparound skirts, sometimes made out of bark cloth, and men wearing loincloths. However today T-shirts, pants, and rubber sandals are common as daily clothes.
Jewelry is simple in nature. Some jewelry objects involve plants such as flowers, while others use animal bones; particularly the teeth of pigs.
The Aetas traditionally were nomadic people, with the Aetas (Ati) of Panay being known as the most mobile. Now they live in more permanent settlements like Barotac Vejo, island of Guimaras, Igkaputol (Dao), Tina (Hamtic) and Badiang (San Jose de Buenavista). The famous island of Boracay is still regarded as their ancestral land as the area known as Takbuyan, between the municipalities of Tobias Fournier (Dao) and San Joaquin, on the southwestern coast of Panay. Very few of them are now nomadic (mostly women with small children). Ati men traditionally join 'sacadas' workers on time of harvest of sugar plants in places such as Negros or Batangas.
The Ati are the central attraction in the Ati-atihan festival, a festival named in their honor. It is said that the festival is held to commemorate the first appearance of the Roman Catholic Church and the Spaniards in the province of Aklan. According to oral tradition, the Ati helped the Spaniards conquer the native Visayans and, as a reward, the tribe was given a statue of the Santo Niño.
In the Dinagyang festival of Iloilo City, also on Panay, performers are also painted to look supposedly like Ati and are organized into "tribes", called "tribus", to perform dances with drums, as the Atis are supposed to have done when the Malay arrived and bought Panay from the Ati. Dinagyang is held to celebrate this purchase as well as the arrival in Iloilo of the Santo Niño statue. When the statue first arrived in 1967, a tribe from the Ati-atihan festival was invited to Iloilo to mark the occasion.
The Atis were the original inhabitants of Boracay. But as the island developed into one of Asia’s prime beach destinations they were compelled to live in a 2.1-hectare gated community.
The original inhabitants of Boracay are actually the Ati people, some of whom live in the aptly named Ati Village in Barangay Manoc-Manoc.
The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), as supported by anthropological studies, has established that the entire Boracay Island is the ancestral domain of the Atis in that they were its earliest settlers. In fact, the island’s name is in their language.
But like the fate of many indigenous peoples, the Atis were displaced and forced to retreat into the forested areas of the island when tourism investors began to descend on Boracay in the 1970s. But before that, local peoples from the Panay mainland began occupying parts of the island and later were able to secure land titles over what used to be legally considered as common property, and historically should have been considered as Ati ancestral lands.
A competing narrative is used by these local migrants to negate the ancestral domain claims of the Atis. They argue that the latter are also from the Panay mainland and only go to the island to forage during certain seasons. However, this is a weak argument since it only affirms the characteristic nature of Atis as nomadic tribes, and it even strengthens their claims not only on Boracay but even on those other areas mentioned. After all, the festival that has become a symbolic representation of the culture of Panay is named after the Atis, and historical accounts validate the claim that they were the very first people encountered by the Spanish colonizers there.
But the Atis were not even fighting for the entire island anymore, more so the entire Panay mainland, but only for a piece of land, some 2.1 hectares, which was awarded to them by the Philippine government in 2011 and for which a Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) was issued. However, this was contested by local migrants who claimed that they hold land titles over the area covered by the CADT issued by the government.
Little do many travelers know that their island-resort is the ancestral land of the Ati community, people who have called the island home since time immemorial. Underneath the sprawl of hotel-resorts are the Atis’ burial and sacred grounds found all across the island. Even the word ‘Boracay’—now a household word for Filipinos—is a name the Atis’ ancestors gave the island in the Inati language.
Every year the island puts on a grand show to celebrate the Ati-Atihan Festival, a Philippine ‘Mardi Gras’ of sorts, inspired by the Ati culture in full brilliant costumes and dances –but what has become of the real living Ati community today? With the obsessive rush of resort developers, and in a mad grab for every square inch of land and shoreline, the once- nomadic Ati tribes have been pushed into smaller and smaller patches of land.
They now live as squatters in their own home. While bikini-clad tourists bake under the sun, the Atis who have traditionally danced and sung by the waters are now being policed by local businesses from swimming. Because of their darker skin and curly hair, the Atis are called “eye sores” who “dirty” the photographic image of a beach paradise. And as the island grows richer and richer, as palacial hotels continue to rise and golf courses expand, ancient burial grounds are dug up, and the Atis are pushed farther back into new ghettos.
On February 22, 2013, Ati youth leader and our dear friend, 26-year old Dexter Condez was murdered. Investigations are underway, but suspicions are high that his brutal death is related to the Atis’ struggle for land. The community of only 42 families has been struggling for over 10 years to secure their Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT). But when the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) finally granted them the title to 2.1 hectares in 2011 –the smallest certified ancestral domain in the world!—other land claimants continue to contest the Atis’ peaceful residence. Why is it so difficult for over 200 Atis to live well, and without discrimination, in such a small portion of land? The Atis continue to grieve for the murder of their brother, and for their ancestral land.
The closure of the Philippine resort island of Boracay, one of the nation's major tourist destinations, was set for six months starting April 26, 2018 as part of the government's efforts at the island's environmental rehabilitation. As part of the closure, Boracay would be closed except to registered island residents and employees of its business establishments.Ati-Atihan festival
The Ati-Atihan Festival is a feast held annually in January in honor of the Santo Niño (Infant Jesus), Held on the third Sunday, in the town of Kalibo Philippines in the island of Panay originally came from Batan, Aklan, then adopted later by some neighboring towns. The name Ati-Atihan means "to be like Atis" or "to make believe Atis", the local name for the Aeta aborigines who first settled in Panay Island and other parts of the archipelago.
The festival consists of tribal dance, music, accompanied by indigenous costumes and weapons, and parade along the street. Christians and non-Christians observe this day with religious processions. It has inspired many other Philippine Festivals including the Sinulog Festival of Cebu and Dinagyang of Iloilo City, both adaptations of the Kalibo's Ati-Atihan Festival, and legally holds the title "The Mother of All Philippine Festivals" in spite of the other two festivals' claims of the same title.
The costumes worn at the festival is patterned after the African tribal design like those seen at the Rio Carnaval.Ati language (Philippines)
Ati (Inati) is an Austronesian language of the island of Panay in the Philippines. The variety spoken in northern Panay is also called Sogodnin (Pennoyer 1987). The Ati people also speak Kinaray-a and Hiligaynon.Australo-Melanesian
In physical anthropology, forensic anthropology and archaeogenetics, Australo-Melanesians (also Australasian, Australomelanesoid or Australoid) form a large group of populations indigenous to Maritime Southeast Asia and Oceania.
The group includes Papuans, Aboriginal Australians, Melanesians (mainly from Fiji, New Caledonia and Vanuatu) and the populations grouped as "Negrito" (the Andamanese, the Semang and Batek people, the Maniq people, the Aeta people, the Ati people, and various other ethnic groups in the Philippines).
The Vedda people in Sri Lanka and a number of dark-skinned tribal populations in the interior of the Indian subcontinent (mainly Dravidian-speaking groups and some Austroasiatic-speaking peoples, like Munda) are also suggested to belong to the Australoid group, but there are controversies about this inclusion. A research involving cranial morphology, made by Indian anthropologists, however, suggests that the South Asian Indian populations have different cranial characteristics from Australoid groups. This difference got possibly strengthened in recent times due to intermarriage with peoples of different origins. A genetic study in 1985 suggested connections between tribal peoples of Southern India, Sri Lanka and Negrito populations of the Philippines and Malaysia. Nevertheless, a more recent study sustains that the Southern Indian populations are not closely related to the classic Australo-Melanesian groups.The term "Australioid race" was introduced by Thomas Huxley in 1870 to refer to certain peoples indigenous to South and Southeast Asia and Oceania.
Terms associated with outdated notions of racial types, such as those ending in "-oid" have come to be seen as potentially offensive
and related to scientific racism.
According to a large craniometric study (Raghavan and Bulbeck et al. 2013) the native populations of South Asia (India and Sri Lanka) have distinct craniometric and anthropologic ancestry. Both southern and northern groups are most similar to each other and have generally closer affinities to various "Caucasoid" groups. The study further showed that the native South Asians (including the Vedda) form a distinct group and are not related to the "Australoid" group.If there were an Australoid “substratum” component to Indians’ ancestry, we would expect some degree of craniometric similarity between Howells’ Southwest Pacific series and Indians. But in fact, the Southwest Pacific and Indian are craniometrically very distinct, falsifying any claim for an Australoid substratum in India.Boracay
Boracay is a small island in the Philippines located approximately 315 kilometres (196 mi) south of Manila and 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) off the northwest tip of Panay Island in Western Visayas region of the Philippines. Boracay Island and its beaches have received awards from numerous travel publications and agencies.
The island comprises the barangays of Manoc-Manoc, Balabag, and Yapak in the municipality of Malay, in Aklan Province. The island is administered by the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority and the provincial government of Aklan. Apart from its white sand beaches, Boracay is also famous for being one of the world's top destinations for relaxation. As of 2013 it was emerging among the top destinations for tranquility and nightlife.Boracay was awarded as the 2012 best island in the world from the international travel magazine Travel + Leisure. In 2014, the resort island was at the top of the Best Islands in the World list published by the international magazine Condé Nast Traveler. In 2016, Boracay headed the magazine's list of Top 10 destinations to watch.In April 2018 the Philippine Government decreed a 6-month closure of the island for tourists to undertake major renovation works, especially of the sewerage system, which had become obsolete and insufficient.. It re-opened in October 2018 with a set of new rules meant to address a variety of issues .Dinagyang
The Dinagyang Festival is a religious and cultural festival in Iloilo City, Philippines held on the 4th Sunday of January, or right after the Sinulog in Cebu and the Ati-Atihan Festival in Kalibo, Aklan. Dubbed as the Queen of all Philippine Festivals,Dinagyang was also voted as the Best Tourism event three times in a row among any other festivals in the Philippines, it is also the most awarded festival in the country, because of its legacy, popularity and innovation . it receives an honor and regarded as World Class Festival.Ethnic groups of Southeast Asia
The ethnic groups of Southeast Asia comprise many different linguistic stocks. Apart from Negrito, which is a physical description, they are here arranged according to the family their languages belong to. The Southeast Asian population stands at 641 million (2017).Hiligaynon people
The Hiligaynon people, often referred to as Ilonggo people (Hiligaynon: Mga Hiligaynon/Mga Ilonggo), are a subgroup of the Visayan people whose primary language is the Hiligaynon language, an Austronesian language native to Panay, Guimaras, and Negros. Over the years, inter-migrations and intra-migrations have contributed to the diaspora of the Hiligaynons to different parts of the Philippines. Now, the Hiligaynon form the majority in the provinces of Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Guimaras, Capiz, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and North Cotabato.Iloilo
Iloilo (Hiligaynon: Kapuoran sang Iloilo; Kinaray-a: Kapuoran kang Iloilo; Tagalog: Lalawigan ng Iloilo) is a province located in the region of Western Visayas in the Philippines. Iloilo occupies a major southeast portion of the Visayan island of Panay and is bordered by the province of Antique to the west, Capiz to the north, the Jintotolo Channel to the northeast, the Guimaras Strait to the east, and the Iloilo Strait and Panay Gulf to the southwest.
Just off Iloilo's southeast coast is the island province of Guimaras, once part of Iloilo but now an independent province. Across the Panay Gulf and Guimaras Strait is Negros Occidental, occupying the northwestern half of the larger island of Negros. Iloilo's capital is Iloilo City, though the city itself is independent and not governed by the provincial government itself. According to the 2015 census, the population of the province (excluding Iloilo City) is 1,936,423. If Iloilo City is included, the population is 2,361,042 in total.Negrito
The Negrito () are several different ethnic groups who inhabit isolated parts of a region known today as Austronesia. Their current populations include the Andamanese peoples of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the Semang ethnic groups of Peninsular Malaysia, the Maniq people of Southern Thailand, and the Aeta people, Ati people, and 30 other official recognized ethnic groups in the Philippines.Negros Island
Negros is the fourth largest island of the Philippines, with a land area of 13,309.60 km2 (5,138.87 sq mi). Negros is one of the many islands that comprise the Visayas, which forms the central division of the nation. The predominant inhabitants of the island region are mainly called Negrenses (locally Negrosanons). As of 2015, Negros' total population is 4,414,131 inhabitants.From May 29, 2015 to August 9, 2017, the whole island was governed as an administrative region which was officially named the Negros Island Region which comprised the highly urbanized city of Bacolod and the provinces of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental, along with its corresponding outlying islands and islets within a total regional area of 13,350.74 km2 (5,154.75 sq mi). It was created on May 29, 2015 by virtue of Executive Order No. 183 issued by Benigno Aquino III, who was the president at that time. In August 9, 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte signed the Executive Order No. 38 dissolving the Negros Island Region.Panay
Panay is the sixth-largest and fourth most-populous island in the Philippines, with a total land area of 12,011 km2 (4,637 sq mi) and with a total population of 4,477,247. Panay comprises 4.4 percent of the entire population of the country. The City of Iloilo is its largest settlement with a total population of 447,992 inhabitants. It is a triangular island, located in the western part of the Visayas. It is about 160 km (99 mi) across. It is divided into four provinces: Aklan, Antique, Capiz and Iloilo, all in the Western Visayas Region. Just closely off the mid-southeastern coast lies the island-province of Guimaras. It is located southeast of the island of Mindoro and northwest of Negros across the Guimaras Strait. To the north and northeast is the Sibuyan Sea, Jintotolo Channel and the island-provinces of Romblon and Masbate; to the west and southwest is the Sulu Sea and the Palawan archipelago and to the south is Panay Gulf. Panay is the only main island in the Visayas whose provinces don't bear the name of their island.
Panay is bisected by the Central Panay Mountain Range, its longest mountain chain. The island has many rivers, the longest being the Panay River at a length of 152 kilometres (94 mi), followed by the Jalaur, Aklan, Sibalom, Iloilo and Bugang rivers. Standing at about 2,117 m (6,946 ft), the dormant Mount Madia-as (situated in Culasi, Antique) is the highest point of the island, with Mount Nangtud (located between Barbaza, Antique and Jamindan, Capiz) following next at 2,073 m (6,801 ft).
Italics indicate extinct groups