In 1250 - such is the history, but has absorbed a good part of folklore - fled ten Datu (chieftain) of Borneo before the once so mighty empire of Srivijayan collapsed. They sailed with some followers to the north, and landed on the island of Panay. With gold, pearls and other jewelry they bought land on the offshore of the Ati-chiefs (Negrito).
Most of the Datus established, under the leadership of Sumakwel, their capital in today's Antique province on the west coast. They gave the island its current division in Iloilo (formerly Irong-Irong), Aklan and Antique (formerly Hamtik).
Each year the legendary trade between the Malay Datus and Native is intended as a very colorful festival. On the third weekend in January in the small coastal town of Kalibo in the Province of Aklan, thousands of Filipinos and foreigners participate as guests, to the three-day festivities, which are known as Ati-Atihan.
Kalibos Ati-Atihan has become so popular that similar festivals now be celebrated everywhere on the Western Visayas. In Antique one celebrate the "Binirayan" and "Handugan" festival, in Hilongos on the Island of Leyte is found the ALIKARAW. Itís recently in Iloilo City with the wasteful expenditure "Dinagyang". Bacolod City is planning to do it similar. Even Manila is not been spared of the Ati-Atihan fever: in the Ermita tourist district, and in a holiday hotel bad copies on the outskirts of the festival will be presented.
Residents of Ibajays, a small town northwest of Kalibo, claim the original and traditional feast which took place in their community, for the small black Ati once had come down from their hills to celebrate with the descendants of the Srivijayan. Therefore, their version of the festival, falls modestly but rather from the originates. Other cities on the northeast coast Panays bring up similar claims, but it seems to be that Kalibo was and is the main center of Ati-Atihan.
To be given to song, dance, drink and merrymaking in the streets, the Ati-Atihan participants, with sweating, sooty face, will be indifferent arguing about the origin of any festival. Everybody feels him swept along, captured by the rhythm of events, put in long bygone times.