As the National Indigenous People’s Month celebration officially kicks off, let’s get to know more about the Atis living at the foot of Mayon Volcano, in Sto. Domingo Albay.
While there are other healers in Bicol, the popularity of the Atis lies in the variety of their medicines. They also introduced “hilot” and “santigwar” in the region.
Hilot is a traditional body massage for back pains, headaches, and stomach aches.
Santigwar is a form of faith healing that determines the reasons for one’s ailment using a plate and a lighted candle.
They perform hilot or santigwar in their patrons’ homes, who pay through donations.they sailed to Sorsogon, through Masbate, and took a bus to Albay. To this day, the Atis still speak their own language called “Inati”, but the children born in Bicol already speak the Albayano language.
There are 49 Atis in San Isidro, Santo Domingo in Albay, comprising 15 households. They have dark skin, short curly hair, and teeth colored from years of “pagmamâ” or chewing areca nut. This group lives inside the danger zone of Mayon Volcano. They rely on their understanding and connection with nature and the spirits to keep them safe from possible eruptions.