While Panay is best known for the Philippines‘ most colourful and vibrant street festival, Ati-Atihan, the island’s interior is also well worth exploring. While traditional dress has been replaced by Western clothes, the people have retained other, very colourful aspects of their culture such as singing debates, ritual machete fights and historical chants memorised only by “princesses” who grow up locked in one room. A few communities I trekked through that were only accessible by walking said they had never seen white people before. Lush green mountains with rice terraces create an appealing mix of scenic beauty and exotic cultural traditions.
You can get to Panay’s main town, Iloilo, from Manila, Palawan, Romblon or various other islands. Once there, if planning to do a trek to villages in the interior, it’s is probably best to contact Daisy, the owner of a small agency that arranges inexpensive tours and treks to the indigenous Ati (negritos) and Bukidnon. The main reason is that on Panay, as with other remote areas of the Philippines, tribal warfare is still a problem in the interior, and she will know which areas to visit and which to avoid. She and her colleagues are also incredibly knowledgeable and have very good relationships with the people in the interior villages, thus being able to explain a lot about their culture and making for a more enjoyable stay. As mentioned above, some communities really are very isolated and no one speaks any English so it is best not to turn up uninvited. Daisy’s email addresses are firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
Click here for my blog on the Ati Negritos of Panay. It’s 3387 words.
Click here for my blog on the Bukidnon people of Panay. It’s 3629 words and 26 photos.
by EddyV with 2 comments.