The Filipino community’s Ati-atihan led by Ed Guevarra of EMG Sports and Entertainment Network was one of the crowd favourites in the recently concluded 2015 Bendigo Festival of Culture. The loud sound emanating from the beating of drums attracted attention when the Ati-atihan dancers wearing their multi-colored headresses and garb started doing their synchronised movements to the beat of the drums. The frenzied atmosphere attracted people to take photos and videos while some gamely joined the parade as they moved around the venue.
The Ati-atihan group performed during the Family Fun Day on 22 March at the Sydney Myer Place. The Festival, held from 16 to 22 March 2015, highlighted the multiculturalism in Bendigo and regional Victoria.
Filipino-Australian, Dr Voltaire Nadurata is the current Chair of the Loddon Campapse Multicultural Services, the over-all in charge of the celebration. Now on its 14th year, the week-long celebration is held during the cultural diversity week. There were singing, dancing, food stalls, forums, markets and exhibitions the entire week.
Seventeen years of Ati-atihan
The Ati-atihan group was formed in 1998 during the 100 years of Philippine Independence Day celebration under the term of Former Philippine Honorary Consul to Victoria Maina Walkley. With the aim of promoting the Filipino culture, the group held its first presentation during the Moomba Festival and garnered Second Place in the parade. “I was not satisfied being a second placer so I went back to Kalibo Aklan and acquired another set of costumes (batt or paniki) and joined again in 1999 and was awarded best costume and declared parade winner. From then on we performed in so many events and festivals,” recalls Guevarra.
The Ati-atihan dancers are: Obeth Guevarra, Amie Polbrat, Miriam Catayas , Elvie Murdoch, Melan Fagaragan Goh, Evelyn Unwin, Irma Barbaric, Ging Nieva, Nelia Ciar, Neneth Legaspi, Sally Boyle, Estela Dudek,Cora Urzabia, Vangie Guevarra, Joel Pia and Terry Nichols.
The drummers are: Jaie Urzabia (Lead drummer), Jayson Aquino, Sherman Buca Salvador, Marvin Lugtu, Christian Urzabia, Ben Urzabia, Alfred Jauneza, Manny Valmeo, Allan Baladjay, Edward Delahenty, Rey Isleta. The young drummers are: Joshua Urzabia (9 years old), Ariza Baladjay (11 years old).
In 2000, the Ati-atihan group also performed as front act before the quarter final of a soccer game held in MCG Richmond during the Olympics, hosted by Sydney. It also performed in Waverley Park before they totally close the Hawthorn home ground,the Canberra Festival and Begornia Festival and in so many events. Guevarra sponsored Elmer Pascua from the Philippines who choreographed and composed the drum beat for the group. The group’s recent performance was during the First Philippine Festival of music, arts and culture held last February 2015.