3rd week of March
City of Passi
4th District, Iloilo
Regarded as one of the region’s most prestigious festivals and is consistently mentioned as a do-not-miss festival in Iloilo, the annual celebration of Pintados de Pasi every 3rd week of March is an amazing celebration that fosters a rich sense of cultural heritage and awareness of the town.
The islands of the Visayas where tribesmen wore the most elaborate, intricate and extensive etchings that led Spanish chroniclers to call the island “La Isla De Los Pintados” or “Islands of the Painted Ones.” It was said that when Spanish authorities arrived in the island, they were welcomed by a group of heavily tattooed men.
Traditionally, the art of tattooing was part of a ritual and portrayed elements of achievement and status of the person wearing the tattoo. Tribal tattoos had profound personal attachments to them.
Commonly done in black ink, the marks are of thick lines with geometric shapes and beautiful pattern. Tattoos were used on men to show tribal seniority, accomplishments, age, and power, as well as acting as talismans in certain cases. It describes their fundamental identity as tribes-people, head hunters, warriors, and community members. Tattoos were earned through the passage of rites ceremonies and for accomplishing specific tasks. Both the men and the women were tattooed, and for a variety of reasons. The Visayan men were warriors, commonly head hunters with strong, detailed lines on their chests and heads. The designs or patterns in their body parts would get more elaborate the more enemies they would kill. The women have simpler patterns on their arms and wrists and were regarded as marks of beauty.
The festival highlight is the tribal dance competition where participants paint their body with elaborate patterns and shapes. The dance is characterized by the flow, a seamless stream of movements that emphasizes the agility of the upper body with simultaneous alternating waving of arms which are the basic movement of the Pintados dance. The dance involves leaping, turning, jumping and kicking movements of a warrior.
The celebration honours their tattooed ancestors such that wearing their tattoo design during their dance presentations is their great way to show respect for their traditional culture.