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PINTADOS: Painted People Festival
A festival is a special occasion celebrated by a group of people having common interests, beliefs, history or culture. It is usually a periodic commemoration marked by feasting and ceremonies. Festivals are celebrated in every corner of this planet, from Asia, the Americas, Europe, Africa and etc.While there is a lot of entertainment involved, festivals usually serve a specific purpose. It is interesting to note that numerous festivals around the world have religious origins.
Brazil for example is known for their Carnival, usually around the Lenten season. There is of course the Mardi Gras of New Orleans! The Philippines a small nation in southeast Asia has its share of religious festivals. One such festival in called "Pintados" Coming from the word "paint", essentially this is the festival of the painted people, in the province of Leyte and Samar, a Visayan region of the Philippines.
When the Spaniards came to the Visayas (central group of islands in the Philippines, where Leyte and Samar lies), in the 1500's, they were met by heavily tattoed people, whom they called "pintados" - the painted ones. In 1888 the Spanish missionaries brought an image of the child Jesus. The rich and colorful background of the image drew out the devotion and worship of the Leyte natives to the Santo Nino (Holy Child). The Pintados Foundation Inc. founded in 1986 by a group of civic minded individuals, developed religious-cultural activities in honor of the Santo Nino. This gave birth to the Pintados festival, a month long festivity that culminates on June 29 each year.
The Pintados Festival, now called Pintados-Kasadya-an Festival, is one of the most colorful events in the country. The hallmark of the celebration is the showcase of native/folk dances, participated by festive dancers with painted bodies and costumes, designed to resemble the tattoed natives of the past. These dancers come from different towns and municipalities around Leyte and Samar islands. They converge in Tacloban City the region's city capital to compete in a carefully choreographed dance routine. The dances reflect or portray the traditions and way of life that flourished before the Spaniards came. Indigenous music with hypnotic rhythms are used to accompany the dances performed on the streets. Spectators follow the parade of colors from beginning to the end. Oftentimes, spectators participate in the festivity by painting their own faces and arms, then dancing along with the beat pulsating in the streets!