Ati people

Last updated
Ati woman.jpg
An Ati woman in Kalibo on Panay, Philippines
Total population
est. 2,000+ (1980: 1,500 speakers of Ati) [1]
Regions with significant populations
Flag of the Philippines.svg  Philippines
Western Visayas
Ati, Aklanon/Malaynon, Hiligaynon,
Kinaray-a, Filipino, English,
Animism, Christianity (Roman Catholic)
Related ethnic groups
Other Negritos, Visayans, and Filipinos

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 [2] to other Negrito ethnic groups in the Philippines such as the Aeta of Luzon, the Batak of Palawan, and the Mamanwa of Mindanao.

Negrito ethnic group

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 and Batek peoples 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.

Visayas one of the three island groups of the Philippines

The Visayas, or the Visayan Islands, is one of the three principal geographical divisions of the Philippines, along with Luzon and Mindanao. Located in the central part of the archipelago, it consists of several islands, primarily surrounding the Visayan Sea, although the Visayas are also considered the northeast extremity of the entire Sulu Sea. Its inhabitants are predominantly the Visayan peoples.

Geography of the Philippines

The Philippines is an archipelago that comprises over 7,000 islands with a total land area of 300,000 square kilometers (115,831 sq mi). The eleven largest islands contain 95% of the total land area. The largest of these islands is Luzon at about 105,000 square kilometers (40,541 sq mi). The next largest island is Mindanao at about 95,000 square kilometers (36,680 sq mi). The archipelago is around 800 kilometers (500 mi) from the Asian mainland and is located between Taiwan and Borneo.



The Aetas or Aeta ancestors were the aboriginal (or first) inhabitants of the Philippines 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 archipelago to Borneo via a land bridge. [3] 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 the Philippines were under the rule of Indianized native kingdoms, the ancestors of the Bisaya escaped from Borneo and 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. [4]

Greater India historical extent of the culture of India beyond the Indian subcontinent

The Indian cultural sphere or Indosphere is an area that composes of the many countries and regions in South and Southeast Asia that were historically influenced by Indian culture and the Sanskrit language. The term Greater India is used to encompass the historical and geographic extent of all political entities of the Indian subcontinent, and the regions which are culturally linked to India or received significant Sanskritization and Indian cultural influence. These countries have varying degrees been transformed by the acceptance and induction of cultural and institutional elements of India. Since around 500 BCE, Asia's expanding land and maritime trade had resulted in prolonged socio-economic and cultural stimulation and diffusion of Hindu and Buddhist beliefs into the region's cosmology, in particular in Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka. In Central Asia, transmission of ideas were predominantly of a religious nature.

Borneo island

Borneo is the third-largest island in the world and the largest in Asia. At the geographic centre of Maritime Southeast Asia, in relation to major Indonesian islands, it is located north of Java, west of Sulawesi, and east of Sumatra.

During Spanish colonization, the tribe made contact with the conquistador Legazpi and were made useful in his colonization of Panay.

Spanish Empire world empire from the 16th to the 19th century

The Spanish Empire, historically known as the Hispanic Monarchy and as the Catholic Monarchy, was one of the largest empires in history. From the late 15th century to the early 19th, Spain controlled a huge overseas territory in the New World and the Asian archipelago of the Philippines, what they called "The Indies". It also included territories in Europe, Africa and Oceania. The Spanish Empire has been described as the first global empire in history, a description also given to the Portuguese Empire. It was the world's most powerful empire during the 16th and first half of the 17th centuries, reaching its maximum extension in the 18th century. The Spanish Empire was the first empire to be called "the empire on which the sun never sets".

<i>Conquistador</i> soldiers, explorers, and adventurers primarily at the service of the Spanish Empire, and also to the Portuguese Empire

Conquistador is a term widely used to refer to the knights, soldiers and explorers of the Spanish Empire and the Portuguese Empire. During the Age of Discovery, conquistadors sailed beyond Europe to the Americas, Oceania, Africa, and Asia, conquering territory and opening trade routes. They colonized much of the world for Spain and Portugal in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries.



An Ati family in Kalibo, Aklan Aeta family at Kalibo, Aklan, Philippines.jpg
An Ati family in Kalibo, Aklan

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. [1]

The Sambalic languages are a part of the Central Luzon language family spoken by the Sambals, an ethnolinguistic group on the western coastal areas of Central Luzon and the Zambales mountain ranges.

Central Luzon languages language family

The Central Luzon languages are a group of languages belonging to the Philippine languages. These are predominantly spoken in the western portions of Central Luzon in the Philippines. One of them, Kapampangan, is the major language of the Pampanga-Mount Pinatubo area. However, despite having three to four million speakers, it is threatened by the diaspora of its speakers after the June 1991 eruption of that volcano. Globalization also threatened the language, with the younger generation more on using and speaking Tagalog and English, but promotion and everyday usage boosted the vitality of Kapampangan.

Visayan languages language family

Visayan is a group of languages of the Philippines that are related to Tagalog and Bikol languages, all of which are part of the Central Philippine languages. Most Visayan languages are spoken in the whole Visayas section of the country, but they are also spoken in the southern part of the Bicol Region, islands south of Luzon, such as those that make up Romblon, most of the areas of Mindanao and the province of Sulu located southwest of Mindanao. Some residents of Metro Manila also speak Visayan.


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".

Animism is the religious belief that objects, places and creatures all possess a distinct spiritual essence. Potentially, animism perceives all things—animals, plants, rocks, rivers, weather systems, human handiwork and perhaps even words—as animated and alive. Animism is used in the anthropology of religion as a term for the belief system of many indigenous peoples, especially in contrast to the relatively more recent development of organised religions.

Negros Island island of the Philippines

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. As of 2015, Negros' total population is 4,414,131 inhabitants.

Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and savior of all people, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Old Testament and chronicled in the New Testament. It is the world's largest religion with over 2.4 billion followers.


Ati woman in Panay Ati woman 2.jpg
Ati woman in Panay


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.


Ati are known in Panay as practitioners of herbal medicine. Locals often seek their help in removing leeches from a person's body.


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.

Atis of Boracy

Atis are the original inhabitants of Boracay island. As the island gained famed, Atis were pushed away. They lost their lands and many were rendered homeless. Consequently, many migrated to Caticlan main land. However, Preside Duterte took the initiative of land reforms. In November 2018, land titles of 3.2 hectares were handed over to Atis. [5] Although, this is very small piece from the 1000 hectre area of the whole island. Lack of education, fear of being bullied and discriminated is visible among Atis of Boracay. [6]

The Philippine government through The Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) have made efforts to increase the Atis employability by providing them with scholarships to attend training programs in the areas of cooking and beauty care (e.g. Facial, hairdressing, manicure etc.). Upon completion of these programs, they will graduate with a nationally recognized certificate. [7] [8] . The government is also making an effort to create employment opportunities; in 2019, the Aklan provincial government hired two full-time employees from the Ati community to oversee the crop production in the Ati Greenhouse which was set up as a source of income for the Ati community [9]

Related Research Articles

Panay island in the Philippines

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.

Iloilo Province in Western Visayas, Philippines

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.

Aklan Province in Western Visayas, Philippines

Aklan (Akean) is a province in the Philippines located in the Western Visayas region. Its capital is Kalibo. The province is situated in the northwest portion of Panay Island, bordering Antique to the southwest, and Capiz to the east. Aklan faces the Sibuyan Sea and Romblon province to the north.

Capiz Province in Western Visayas, Philippines

Capiz is a province located in the region of Western Visayas in the central section of the Philippines. Its capital is the City of Roxas and is located at the northeastern portion of Panay Island, bordering Aklan to the north, Antique to the west, and Iloilo to the south. Capiz faces the Sibuyan Sea to the north.

The Binirayan festival is an event celebrated in the province of Antique in the Philippines. "Binirayan" literally means "where they sailed to".

Western Visayas Region in Visayas, Philippines

Western Visayas is an administrative region in the Philippines, numerically designated as Region VI. It consists of six provinces and two highly urbanized cities. The regional center is Iloilo City. The region is dominated by the native speakers of four Visayan languages: Kinaray-a, Hiligaynon, Aklanon and Capiznon. The land area of the region is 20,794.18 km2 (8,028.68 sq mi), and with a population of 7,536,383 inhabitants, it is the most populous region in the Visayas.

Boracay Island

Boracay is a small island in the Philippines located approximately 315 kilometres 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.

Visayans Austronesian ethnolinguistic groups originated from Visayas, in the Philippines

The Visayans is an umbrella term for the Philippine ethnolinguistic groups native to the whole Visayas, the southernmost islands of Luzon and most parts of Mindanao. Those particularly within the Visayas broadly share a sea-based culture with strong Roman Catholic traditions merged with cultural elements through centuries of interaction and inter-migrations mainly across the seas of Visayan, Sibuyan, Camotes and Bohol, and in some secluded areas merged with ancient animistic-polytheistic influences. Most Visayans are speakers of one or more Visayan languages, the most widely spoken being Cebuano, followed by Hiligaynon (Ilonggo) and Waray-Waray. Many have, at some point in their lives, migrated to Metro Manila and its surrounding provinces out of necessity brought about by the negative effects of economic centralization in their nation. They comprise the largest grouping in the geographical division of the country, numbering at around 33 million as of 2010.

Kalibo Municipality of the Philippines and capital of the province of Aklan

Kalibo, officially the Municipality of Kalibo,, is a 1st class municipality and capital of the province of Aklan, Philippines. According to the 2015 census, it has a population of 80,605 people.

Tigbauan Municipality of the Philippines in the province of Iloilo

Tigbauan, officially the Municipality of Tigbauan,, is a 2nd class municipality in the province of Iloilo, Philippines. According to the 2015 census, it has a population of 62,706 people.

Ati-Atihan festival

The Ati-Atihan Festival is a feast held annually in January in honor of the Santo Niño, 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.

Irong-Irong appears in the Maragtas legend of the coming of ten Bornean datus to the island of Panay. The datus bartered with a local Ati chieftain for the plains and valleys of the island, offering gold in return.

Iloilo City Highly Urbanized City in Western Visayas, Philippines

Iloilo City, officially the City of Iloilo, is a highly urbanized city on the southeastern tip of Panay island in the Philippines. It is the capital city of the province of Iloilo where it is geographically situated but, in terms of government and administration, it is politically independent. In addition, it is the center of the Iloilo-Guimaras Metropolitan Area, as well as the regional center and primate city of the Western Visayas region. In the 2015 census, Iloilo City had a population of 447,992 inhabitants, with a 1.02% population annual growth rate. For the metropolitan area, the total population is 946,146 inhabitants.

The Hiligaynon people, often referred to as Ilonggo people, 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.

Aklanon people ethnic group

The Aklanon people are part of the wider Visayan ethnolinguistic group, who constitute the largest Filipino ethnolinguistic group.


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.

Madja-as pre-Hispanic (c.1200–1569) Philippine state located on the islands of Panay and Negros

The Kedatuan of Madja-as or the Confederation of Madja-as, also known as Sri-Bisaya (Malayo-Sanskrit), was a pre-Hispanic Mandala in Panay, within the Visayas islands in what is now the Philippines, and was the second oldest Srivijayan territory in the archipelago, next to the Sulu Archipelago.

Ati (Inati) is an Austronesian language of the island of Panay in the Philippines. The variety spoken in northern Panay is also called Sogodnin. The Ati people also speak Kinaray-a and Hiligaynon.


  1. 1 2 "Ati – A language of Philippines". Ethnologue . Retrieved 2007-03-26.
  2. "image from". Archived from the original on 27 February 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-27.
  3. Scott, William Henry (1984), Prehispanic Source Materials for the study of Philippine History, New Day Publishers, pp. xix, 3, ISBN   971-10-0226-4 , retrieved 2008-08-05.
  4. "Kalantiao – the hoax". Paul Morrow. Archived from the original on 15 April 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-26.
  5. "Boracay Atis get land ownership titles". cnn.
  6. Productive Employment for Indigenous People
  7. Share; Twitter. "TESDA to provide livelihood skills for indigenous people in Antique". Retrieved 2019-07-03.
  8. Lomotan, Roi Anthoni; May 21, Georgette Malagar Published on; 2019. "Feature: Better future awaits IPs after TESDA training". Retrieved 2019-07-03.
  9. "Aklan Province". Retrieved 2019-07-03.