Explore Iloilo’s Culture With Pintados De Pasi Festival


Regarded as one of the best known and established festivals of the Visayan region that have evolved through the years, Pintados de Pasi Festival had always been on the lists of do-not-miss festivals on several articles. And we cannot blame them, for this festival really gives colors and unforgettable memories to anyone who could witness it.

Characterized by heavy and aggressive body movements and body tattoos that depicts the history of the province’s ancestral life, Pintados de Pasi is happening annually in Passi, Iloilo every third week of March . Through this festival, Passinhons are able to endorse and promote the Ilonggo culture by revitalization of traditional music, arts and dances.

During the Spanish era, Spanish chroniclers arrived in the island and were welcomed by a group of heavily tattooed men. Tribesmen also wore the most elaborate, intricate and extensive etchings in their body that led the chroniclers call their island “La Isla De Los Pintados” (Islands of the Painted Ones).

Traditionally, the art of tattooing was part of a ritual and portrayed elements of achievement and status of an individual. The more tattoo, the higher status. It was 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 are very sacred and done only through the passage of rites and ceremonies. Women are also marked, but with them tattoos are used to symbolize beauty; thus making every imprint special and personal.

One of the highlights of this festival 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 movements of warriors such as leaping, turning, jumping and kicking.


Wearing the intricate tattoos as they present is one of the Passinhons’ way of showing respect for their traditional culture.
Photo Credit: Rey Tabafunda


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