Pintados Festival - June 29
Tacloban City, Leyte Province
The Pintados festival of Tacloban City is a Filipino festivals with its own unique flavor. This Pintados festival recalls Pre-Spanish history of the native Leytenos from wars, epics and folk religions.
The most anticipated aspect of the Pintados festival are the festive dancers, painted from head to toe with designs that resemble armor to resemble the tattooed warriors of old.
During the course of the Pintados festival, dancers whose bodies are painted in an astounding array of colors fill the streets of Tacloban city. At first sight, they may seem ridiculous as grown men pour into the streets adorned in such dazzling colors as luminous blue or neon green. But as one gets used to this and sees the dances depicted, one gets a glimpse of the history of the people that once lived on the islands of Leyte so long ago.
The folk dances presented by the dancers depict the many traditions that flourished before the Spaniards came. These include worship of idols, indigenous music and epic stories. The hypnotic rhythms of native instruments beat through the air accompanying the dances performed on the streets as the Pintados festival goes.
Aside from the folk dances, is the much anticipated parade, which crisscrosses the avenues of Tacloban city. The parade traditionally begins at the Balayuan Towers and proceeds throughout tacloban leyte city. The amazed spectators follow the procession of dancing colors from the beginning to end.
The Pintados festival concludes in much merrymaking with a signature traditional Filipino fiesta, where everyone is invited to join the fun and celebrate the Pintados Festival.
The name “pintados” is actually derived from what the native warriors, whose bodies were adorned with tattoos, were called. In those times, and even in some places today, tattoos were a mark of courage and beauty.
Since tattoo-making was not yet as precise as it is today, they were rather painful and one risked the chance of contracting an infection. Therefore, a man who faced the dangers of tattooing and lived was considered to be both strong and brave. But even before the tattoo process itself, one would have to earn them after fighting valiantly in wars.
Tattoos (pintados) served as a status symbol; much like a general’s badge would today. It was the mark of courage, rank and strength. The bravest warriors were heavily adorned in tattoos which covered every inch of their bodies, head to foot.
Indeed, these men were in fact such an unusual sight that western missionaries considered them gruesome and uncivilized upon their first glimpses of these warriors. But as time passed, they learned to see the tattoos as a part of the life of native peoples and even as a sign of beauty for them.
With the passing of time, as the story is with all things, the old made way for the new. The traditions of tattooing (pintados) and worshiping earth spirits were replaced as modernization came. But these traditions are still remembered with the celebration of the Pintados festival.
This Pintados festival helps us to see the value and beauty of the traditions of the country’s ancestors. It gives us the opportunity to feel a rare first-hand experience, the experience of culture
Jerome Emil Villanueva from projects.aec.asef.org
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