Pintados Festival

The #NationalMuseumPH brings you another colorful celebration in the country—the Pintados Festival celebrated in the Visayas. In the City of Passi in Iloilo, Pintados Festival is held every 3rd week of March but for todays’ #MuseumFromHome series, we focus on the Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival in Leyte celebrated every 29th of June, also the Feast Day of Señor Santo Niño de Leyte.

Historical records suggest that the first image of the Child Jesus was brought by Spanish missionaries to the island of Leyte in 1888. The Pintados Festival can be traced back to the formation of Pintados Foundation, Inc. in 1986 by the people of Tacloban, who began organizing religious cultural activities in honor of the Señor Santo Niño. A year later, the first Pintados Festival was held on June 29 and was later merged with the Kasadyaan Festival. As the term kasadya-an in the Visayan language means merriment or happiness, the festival portrays the unique and colorful historical background of Leyte. 

More than just celebrating the feast of the Santo Niño, this festival also commemorates the pre-Spanish tradition of tattooing among warriors locally known as pintados. Spanish Friar, Fr. Ignacio Francisco Alcina S.J., on the other hand, mentioned in “Historia de las Islas e Indios de Bisayas 1668” that almost all Visayans had tattoos except the children and the asug (homosexuals), suggesting that the tradition is not only limited to warriors. 

There are multiple events throughout the celebration of Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival – the Festival of festivals of Leyte, the Ritual Dance Presentation of Pintados and the Pagrayhay (or pagrayhak meaning to celebrate) for the Grand Parade. Various municipalities of the province participate and gather in Tacloban City to join the celebration. For this reason, the festival is said to promote a sense of pride and solidarity as every municipality presents their own local folklore and legends. 

The folk dances presented during the festival depict the pre-Spanish practices of our ancestors, which include worship of idols, and performance of indigenous music and epics. Dancers fill the streets of the city wearing colorful garbs along with intricate body paintings consisting of different shapes, figures and colors, as if one is wearing an armor. The festival concludes with a merry-making or a traditional Filipino fiesta. 

To know more about the tradition of tattooing in the Visayas, check out the featured articles of the National Museum Western Visayas on #Pintados in #KwentongKultura here:

Text and poster by the NMP Ethnology Division

Photo courtesy of Mr. Ricky D. Alejo

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