Celebrate the Pintados de Pasi Festival in the Philippines

Celebrate the Pintados de Pasi Festival in the Philippines

Avril-Ann Braganza

From food fairs and snake dances to tribal and beauty contests. Here's what you should check out at this festival, in the province of Ilolio

If you're holidaying in the Philippines, you might want to check out the Pintados de Pasi Festival in the province of Ilolio on Panay Island. Celebrated from 12th to 22nd March, the Pintados de Pasi Festival is held annually and is timed to coincide with 14th March, when Passi became a city in 1998. One of the best-known festivals of the Visayan region, it has played a big part in the lives of most Passinhons and celebrates the return of the Pintado culture.

The festival is a display of the well-established culture and tradition of Passi, Iloilo, which includes a garden show and food fairs, the Karosa Parada (a carriage parade that is drawn by a painted carabao or water buffalo) and a beauty contest called the Bb. Pintados de Pasi, a drum and lyre competition, snake dances, carabao (water buffalo) artwork, Sinadya sa Suba (fun in the river), the Pinta Lawas (body painting) and tribal contests. Theatrical-like street dancing performances, characterised by heavy and aggressive body movements, are an important part of the festivities.

Performers adorned in (temporary) traditional body tattoo with elaborate geometrical designs on their arms, legs and torso dramatize ancestral stories. Tattooing, as an art, was practised throughout the island of Panay. The men would tattoo their entire bodies with beautiful figures, using small pieces of iron dipped in ink, which would exhibit their record in battle. This ink gets incorporated into the blood, leaving an indelible mark. The more tattoos a man had on his body, the higher was his status as a warrior. Today, the pintado practice has raised tattooing to an art which involves order, symmetry and coordination. Women, however would only wear tattoos on one side of their arms, in the old Panay society.

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