History

In 1668, the Spaniards came to the Visayas and found in the islands heavily tattooed men and women, whom they called Pintados. These people had a culture of their own, commemorating victories by holding festivals and honoring their gods after a bountiful harvest. It was in 1888 that missionaries from Spain brought the Child Jesus image known as "El Capitan" to the island. It had a rich and colorful background that draw out the devotion and worship of the Leyte natives to the Santo Niño.

Then in 1986, the Pintados Foundation, Inc. was founded by civic-minded businessmen and entrepreneurs based in Tacloban City. They began organizing religious cultural activities for the city fiesta in honor of Señor Santo Niño. This marked the advent of the Pintados Festival, which was first celebrated June 29th of the year 1987. Today, it is called the Leyte Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival and is called as the "Festival of Festivals."

The name “pintados” is 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 heroically in wars.

This Pintados festival helps us to see the worth 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.

© Tarantula 2007 Tacloban Fiesta
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