The Pintados Festival or Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival is annually celebrated on the 29th of June in Tacloban City, Leyte, to honor the Señor Santo Niño or Holy Child. The festival's highlights include the Leyte Kasadyaan Festival of Festivals, the 17th Pintados Festival Ritual Dance Presentation, and the Pagrayhak Grand Parade. In the Visayan dialect, "Kasadyaan" means "merriment and jollity."
When the Spaniards came to the Visayas in 1668, they found heavily tattooed men and women whom they called Pintados. The Pintados had their own culture and customs, such as commemorating victories by holding festivals and honoring their gods. In the 17th century, the friars banned the use of tattoos, branding the practice as savage and evil.
In 1888, missionaries from Spain brought the image of the Child Jesus that was known as El Capitan to the island. The Leyte natives were drawn to the story of the Child Jesus and became devotees and worshipers of El Capitan.
In 1986, the businessmen and entrepreneurs of Tacloban City founded the Pintados Foundation, Inc. They began organizing religious cultural activities for the city fiesta in honor of the Sto. Niño. Former Leyte governor Remedios Loreto-Petilla spearheaded the festival which was first celebrated on 12 May 1996. In 1999, the celebration was moved to 29 June in honor of the Señor Santo Niño de Leyte.
The Pintados Festival recalls the pre-Hispanic history of the native Leytenos and showcases the cultural heritage of the people of Leyte and Samar by incorporating native music and dances. The word "pintados" refers to the body tattoos of the native warriors which represented courage and beauty. At that time, getting tattoos was painful and open to the risk of infection, therefore, a man who faced the dangers of tattooing and lived was considered strong and brave. In addition, he had to earn his tattoos by fighting wars and battles. Being a pintado was also a status symbol. The highest ranked or bravest warriors were heavily tattooed from head to toe.
The highlight of the Pintados Festival is the parade of street dancers who are covered from head to toe in painted designs that represent the tattooed warriors of the past. The parade traditionally begins at the Balayuan Towers and proceeds throughout Tacloban, Leyte.
How to get to Tacloban
Tacloban City is one hour and 10 minutes by plane from Manila. Travel by sea takes 36 hours and the ship from Manila is only available thrice a week.