Ati-atihan in Wellington!





It happened! Nearly a fortnight ago we posted an open message to our readers appealing for help with raising a small amount of funds to cover the extra cost of shipping costumes from the Philippines to New Zealand in time for the shows. Some of them came through and that act of giving is now paying off handsomely.


A nationwide festival being staged alongside the Rugby World Cup 2011 tour nament includes more than 1,000 events all over the country, showcasing New Zealand’s arts, food and wine, heritage, ethnic cultures, enter tainment, indus tries and business, experiences and lifestyle throughout September and Octo ber this year.


The Festivale of Carnivale, which is essentially the Wellington Festival inside the wider national festival promises plenty to see on the streets of the capital city. Adding much stimulus to the already rugby mad fans and visitors from other countries is the Philippines’ own lively and colourful dance performance telling the story of the “Ati-atihan” at the Philippines Ati-atihan Festival in Wellington on these schedule dates:





The Venues

17 September

Street Parade


Westpac Stadium

17 September

Stage Performance


Fan Zone

24 September

Stage Performance


Town Hall

25 September

Stage Performance


Fan Zone


The first performance on the 17th has come and gone and some armchair com mentators on the sidelines with nothing perhaps much better to do believed it would be a less than spectacular showing given an all volunteer dance troupe who’ve never really performed publicly in front of a huge crowd and erstwhile marching and dancing to the beat of drums from Wellington’s Fan Zone all the way to the Westpac Stadium.


Performing the mesmeric Ati-atihan in step with each other (that is, all 63 of them together) and donning heavy cos tumes under the sun and gusty winds for a whole hour non-stop on hard pave ment is unforgiving and would certainly zap out anyone’s energy level and enthu siasm. Yet, from reports we’ve received from those who actually saw the actual performance of the dance troupe that day, we’ve heard nothing else but praise.


“It was an amazing performance… the choreography was fantastic… the coordi nation was perfect… the costumes were awesome,” were just some of the exub erant feedback received from the aud ience after their performance.


So on behalf of the Filipino-Kiwi commu nity in Hamilton and those living in other parts of New Zealand who didn’t have an opportunity to see it for them selves, we’d like to say a resoundingly loud and enthusiastic “Well Done!” to each and all those volunteer performers enumerated below who gave their utmost and very best effort. You’ve made your kababayans across New Zealand extremely proud to be one with you on this occasion.


Jet Alabastro Naomi Palec Kara Rae Gareza
Ira Geale Castro Kim Laroza Beth Jose
Nina Bello Bernie Del Prado Wilma Angel
Anrean Anino Bojo Laroza Ashelle Managuelod
Tina Guieb Ace Vicente Rowel Madrisa
Mariejoe Sinio Margaret Calvelo Rachel Everson
Raymond Pacpaco Mahal Ilingworth Dina O’Meara
Joshua Nerona Jenialyn Ayaton Didith Figuracion
Clara Rubio Essen Vicente Briana Liu
Selina Sales Kim Vicente Ystefano Ubaldo
Maggie Moreno John Arcellana Renzo Ubaldo
Edgardo Tabios Marc Arcellana Alessandra Lopez
Dorina Mae Tabios Tina Guieb Michael Santos
Rj Robrigado Lev Kavinta Vincent Reyes
Novie Sanoria Jacob Kavinta Markie Estalilla
Auie Robrigado Shellah Kavinta Vincent Reyes
Rosh Ringor Clark Figuracion Ronald Evangelista
Jonah Belinda Bonzon-Liu Maris Evangelista
Lia Quintans Mark Smart Jenalyn Ayaton
Jhem Sinio Judith Mendoza Ricky Curato
Janila Gastilo Roy Estalilla Sylvia Shirin Zonoobi


Considered the Mother of all Philippine festivals, the Ati-atihan holds special meaning not only because it is one of the oldest expressions of group dance but because it tells a deeper story about gratitude, tolerance and friendship between two peoples centuries ago who eventually became one. That’s the significant message that the Filipinos in Wellington wanted to impart to a country they’ve come to hold dear in their hearts.


While this particular dance expression has been the basic template used by other communities who’ve made their home in an archipelago in Southeast Asia known as the Pearl of the Orient, their adaptations of the Ati-atihan only captures the revelry and frenetic movements of the original but the story that inspired and gave rise to this unique cultural expression is somewhat diminished. That’s why the organisers and the group who made possible its performance in Wellington for all to see and enjoy chose it. Obviously, they didn’t disappoint their audience.


And lest we forget to say a big ‘Thank You’ to the Filipino-Kiwi organisations – Filipino Artists in New Zealand Inc., Bulwagan Foundation Trust and the ARIZE Dance Crew, who all came together to organise this Filipino-inspired cultural dance festival and showcase it to the world during the Rugby World Cup 2011 Festival of Carnivale in Wellington and to selfless people ‘behind-the-scenes’ who quietly provided all forms of support and encouragement to see it through with out asking for anything else in return, who include the following:



Nature of Their Valuable Assistance

Inag Alamani

Facilitating the use of their church’s gym – Chris tian Revival Centre – for our practices and rehear sals.

Jet Alabastro, Maggie Moreno

Choreography for the youth part of the perform ance.

Auie Robrigado, Essen Vicente, Josh Nerona

Co-choreographers for the youth part of the performances and coordinated the youth partici pation for this activity, mostly by Auie Robriga do.

Rob Kennedy, Owner of Brumby’s Karori

Provided free bread supplies every Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Au Alba, Filipino staff of Brumby’s

Facilitated the sponsorship of Brumby’s.

Bill Tagupa, Mae Young and Jun Semblaceno

Assisted during the practices, particularly in the choreography of the full performance of the dance troupe consisting of all of 63 members.

Steve and Nida Robertson (WIFS), Annie and Ric Robrigado (FILINARTIZTS), Liza Estalilla (Philippine Embassy)

Food committee during the performances.

Dr. Antong Victorio, Agnes Espineda (Tactics Ltd.), Bulwagan Foundation Trust, Philippine Embassy Staff and Officials headed by Amb. Gee Benavidez, Paul and Wilma Angel, Rowel and Oddie Madrisa, Clark and Didith Figuracion (REAL EXPERIENZ LTD.)

For valuable and timely financial contributiond for the shortfall incurred on the air-freight costs and charges of the costumes from Kalibo, Aklan Philippines all the way to Wellington, New Zea land.

Liza Estalilla and Claire Vicente

Facilitating the purchase of costumes from Kali bo, Aklan in the Philippines.

Beth Jose

For cooking and preparing additional food treats for the volunteers (dancers) and for costume re pairs when required.

Clark Figuracion

Assisting the youth group during their practices, all around help when needed.

Lev, Sheila Kavinta and Jacob Kavinta, Clark Figuracion, Belle Liu and Jonathan Bayot

The Ati-atihan dance festival Drummers Brigade.

Dinna O’Meara

Co-Producer/choreographer of the first part of the performance helping out Producer Didith Ta yawa-Figuracion.

Noel Bautista, Oddie Madrisa, Mico Santos, Josh Nerona, Rhose Lopez, Alan Raga and Noel Bautista

Media, video and photo shoot coordinators.

Karl Quirino (Auckland)

Chief Writer, Editor, Brand Developer, Reputa tion Management Expert, Webmaster, Social Me dia Guru and Community Development Mentor who, on top of providing professional work and advise for free, acted to inspire the organisers to carry on in some creative ways.

The Philippine Embassy

Provided the beautiful ‘Bornean’ costumes.


34 volunteers from youth group, FILINARTIZTS members, other volunteers

Judith Mendoza/Liza Estalilla

Costumes Coordinator

Fr. Ambet dela Cruz

Announcement at the church when Didith Taya wa-Figuracion was recruiting volunteers


Filipinos in Hamilton raises its hand to salute its valiant brothers and sisters in Wellington for showing the way to other Filipino-Kiwis elsewhere in the country that when we put our minds and hearts together above all else to face daunting challenges we can strive to achieve anything as a united community in New Zea land working as one solid team driven by purpose and an esprit de corps imbued with collaboration, partnership and volunteerism.


Simply unbeatable, just like our Rugby World Cup 2011 Champions All Blacks team!


Mabuhay sa inyong lahat!



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Filed under Arts and Culture, Community News, Filipinos in Hamilton, Filipinos in New Zealand, Special Events

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