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AKLAN, Philippines – The Black Beauty Boys, a modern tribal group known for their Ati-Atihan street performances, are back on top, bagging the championship crown in 2024 after their second-place finish in 2023.
They were proclaimed the best group among all the Ati-Atihan performers on Sunday January 21, at the culmination of the Kalibo Sto. Nino Ati-Atihan Festival. The group, which hails from Barangay Linabuan Norte in Aklan, received a cash prize of P1 million.
Kalibo Mayor Juris Bautista-Sucro introduced the P1 million grand prize in 2023, with The Vikings from Makato, Aklan touted then as the champions, followed by the Black Beauty Boys in second place.
Aside from the P1 million cash prize, the Black Beauty Boys also received special awards worth P5,000 each – Most Disciplined, Best in Beats and Sound, Best in Headdress, and Best in Costume.
This year’s second place went to Tribu Linabuanon, followed by last year’s champs The Vikings, then the Pride of Libtong, then the Pangawasan Tribe, then The Maharlika Tribe, then Tribu Alibangbang, and finally Tribu Waswas.
Black Beauty Boys leader Lucas Francisco said they got emotional after hearing them declared as champs. He considered the win a blessing from the Sto. Nino, the Catholic figure to which the festival is dedicated.
“We strived hard to win although [we were] cash-strapped. All of our participants were volunteers. I keep on asking our members to be determined, have faith, and sacrifice. We will use the cash reward as cash incentives [for] all of our sacrifices,” he said to local reporters.
Kalibo Mayor Juris Bautista-Sucro said during the awarding ceremony that he will be raising the grand prize to P1.2 million in cash in 2025. The prize will be funded personally by Sucro.
According to the Kalibo Ati-atihan Festival Board (KAFEB), the local government had allocated some P2.93 million for the 35 participating performers in 2024.
Brawl between groups
Meanwhile, a brawl between two Ati-Atihan drum and lyre groups, The Lagalag Boys and The Bayangan Band, occurred on Wednesday, January 24. The incident was captured by netizens and posted on social media.
Through these posts, the Kalibo police were able to identify the two suspects behind the brawl. Kalibo Police Chief Lieutenant Colonel Ricky Bontogon said the suspects were charged with alarm and scandal at the Provincial Prosecutors Office.
Mayor Sucro also issued an executive order banning the The Lagalag Boys and The Bayangan Band from participating in the rest of the festivities. – Rappler.com