Ati are scattered in Western Visayas in the provinces of Aklan, Capiz, Antique, lloilo Guimara, Negros Occidental, and Negros Oriental. The biggest population settled in Nagpana, barangay Lipata, Barutac Viejo (lloilo). Other bigger groups are found in Hanti (Antique), Malay (Aklan), and Lambunao (lloilo). The total population is 63,654 (OSCC, 1987.
Ati is the local term for their "dark brown" to "sooty black" skin color. Their distinctive physical features consists of wavy to kinky hair, pug nose, and thick lips. They are usually short, generally below five feet tall. Their physical appearance is genetically carried up to the third or fourth generation even with mixed marriages. When the Spanish colonizers came they called the indigenous peoples of the island Negritoes because of their skin color. The colonizers also named the Island Negros.
Among the Ati group, the Ati in Panay Island are probably the best known of the Filipino Negritos (Spanish term of Ati) being the indigenous tribe credited with welcoming history's first Malay datus from Borneo in the fourteenth century.
Economic activities include hunting, fishing, and food gathering. However,they have become less sedentary and constantly move in panuns (band) nowadays. They become the "mountain people" in escaping the civilizing process of the colonists. They are perennially dependent on the yields of the forest, since they practice no permanent agriculture.
Because the Atis are nomadic, they put up their dwellings in the form of a lean-to or shack. During the olden times, most of the Atis went about naked. The menfolk wore ubad to cover their private part, while the women wrapped their lower torso with sahat leaving their breasts exposed.
Atis practices animism. They believe in the existence of Kalosonin (spirit of the forest) and the aswang(witch). They hold a unique wedding rite on top of a hill. The bride is made to run fast one hundred meters away from the groom. Drums are sounded when the groom starts to pursue the woman.
They have retained their dialect with traces of the ancient terms of "Kinaray-a" and dialects of the present time "Hiligaynon".
- "Ati" http://www.ncip.gov.ph/resources/ethno_detail.php?ethnoid=85 (July 13, 2007)