pintados festival philippines

Pintados Festival: The Ultimate Guide

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  • Post last modified:July 3, 2022
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Pintados Kasadyaan is one of the most anticipated and unique festivals in the whole country. Many look forward to it because of the Pintados tattoo, colorful clothes, lively atmosphere, and nonstop partying. This event serves as a mix of two well-known festivals: the Kasadyaan Festival and the Pintados Festival. 

In the local language, “kasadyaan” means “happiness.” Meanwhile, “Pintados” refers to the brave warriors of the past who lived in the area.

The Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival is annually held in Tacloban on June 29. Also called the “Festival of Festivals,” it spreads like a wave throughout the Philippines. Moreover, its glory can be seen in the dances, acts, and activities. The locals tell stories and legends about brave warriors from the past during the festival. They do this through dance numbers and musical performances. Meanwhile, dancers paint their bodies to make them look like they are wearing armor.

Want to know more? Stay tuned. 

This post explores everything you need to know about the Pintados Festival. 

What Is Pintados Festival?

pintados festival costume
Souce: MNL.OP

The Pintados Festival, also called the Pintados Kasadyaan Festival, is a cultural and religious event in Tacloban based on the traditions of the old “pintados” warriors, who used to paint their bodies. 

In 1986, the people of Tacloban formed the Pintados Foundation, Inc. They did this to celebrate in honor of Sr. Santo Nino. The Leyte Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival also called the “Celebration of Festivals,” takes place every year on June 29, during the Feast of the Senor Santo Nino de Leyte.

The bravest warriors have tattoos from head to toe. Without a doubt, these men were an extraordinary sight. In fact, when western teachers first saw them, they thought they were shocking and low-class.

But as time went on, they learned to see that the tattoos were a part of the lives of the local people. The tattoos even became a sign of beauty for them. As time went on, the old things made way for the new ones, as it does with everything.

The Pintados celebration helps us see how necessary and reasonable the customs of the country’s ancestors were. It also gives us the chance to experience culture directly in a way that doesn’t happen very often.

Read Philippine Festival Guides by HICAPS

Pintados Festival History

pintados festival
Source: PNA

When the Spaniards came to the Visayas in 1688, they found heavily tattooed men and women. They called these people “Pintados.” 

The said people also had their own culture. They celebrated victories with festivals and gave thanks to their gods after a good harvest. 

Then, in 1986, businessmen and entrepreneurs from Tacloban City who cared about the community started the Pintados Foundation, Inc. They started the said foundation in honor of Señor Santo Niño. In particular, they began to plan religious and cultural events for the city’s fiesta. 

This was the beginning of the Pintados Kasadyaan Festival, held for the first time on June 29, 1987. Now, locals call it the Leyte Pintados Kasadyaan Festival or the “Festival of Festivals.”

The different activities and shows that the locals put together show how important the event is. In particular, the Pintados festival wants to show and share the rich cultural heritage of all of Leyte and Samar through songs and dances. It also reminds people of the time before the Spaniards came. The event also reminds them of their wars, way of life, and religion. 

People at the festival would paint their faces and bodies to look like old armors to blend in as ancient warriors. Then, they would go out into the streets of Tacloban City. Next, they will talk to other participants and people to see what was happening. In fact, they can show their rich culture just by painting different shapes, figures, and colors on their bodies.

Pintados Meaning

Spanish colonists called the people who lived on Cebu, Bohol, Samar, and Leyte islands in the Bicayas (Visayas) region of the Philippines “pintados.” It’s because their bodies were covered in tattoos. 

The word was first used when the Spanish ruled the Philippines. It means “painted.” People know men for their tattoos, which usually cover most of their bodies. They put the tattoos on by poking the skin with sharp iron pieces. Then, they put black powder on the wounds. This gets permanently absorbed into the skin. 

When Rodriguez wrote about the natives in 1565, he said: “…these Indians wear gold earrings, and the chiefs wear two clasps around their feet. The body, legs, and arms are all painted. However, the bravest person gets the most paint.”

Pintados Tattoo Design

pintados tattoo
Source: Vigattin Tourism

The Spanish colonists who found tattooed native people in the Philippines called them “pintados.” When the fierce and brave warriors from the Visayas beat the Spanish colonists, they had a very different view of the tattooed native warriors. 

On every part of their bodies, warriors had intricate tribal tattoos. That day, these “Pintados,” or painted warriors, made their mark on the rich and exciting history of the Philippines.

The tattoos on the Pintados showed the courage of a man in battle. It also marked the beginning of a man’s journey from a head hunter to a fearsome warrior. When these warriors kill someone, they could be called “head hunters.” 

If the warrior did this, they would get a tattoo called “gulot,” which looks like bands of stripes. When the warrior kills his second enemy, he gets a second tattoo on his hands. The more kills a warrior made in his lifetime, the more complicated tattoos he would get.

This process continued until he got a tattoo that showed he was the best warrior. This gave him the title “mai’ngor.” 

Moreover, the tattoos that covered the bodies of these warriors exist not just for looks. Many of the old gods in Filipino mythology represent these tattoos. 

The sun represents the sky in Philippine mythology, called “Kaluwalhatian” or “Sky World.” On the other hand, snake patterns link the underworld called “Kasakitan.”

The other parts of the tattoos also have purposes. “Labid” serves as a vertical pattern that looks like the skin of a snake or crocodile. Tattoos like “Ablay” exist for the shoulder, “Dubdub” for the chest, and “Daya-Daya” for the arms. Hence, the tattoos on their chests, thighs, and backs look like the sun. Meanwhile, patterns that look like snakes ran down their arms and legs. 

Significance of the Pintados Tattoo

At that time, getting tattoos served as a sign of beauty and bravery. Tattoos used to be made with less care than they are now. Without the high-tech tools we have now, the process became complicated and took long. 

So, a man who got tattoos on his body without getting hurt became brave and strong. Locals’ tattoos, called “pintados,” showed the importance of these men. Hence, the most fearless warrior has Pintados tattoo from head to toe.

People in the area also wear costumes and body paint that show brave warriors from the past. As the world became more modern, the new ones replaced the old. 

Like worshiping spirits and getting tattoos, the old traditions also died out. Even though the ancient traditions aren’t followed as much as they used to be, they haven’t been forgotten. So, every year at the Pintados festival, people still remember the old stories and legends.

Pintados Festival Costume

The body paint or tattoos on their bodies show how the Visayan ancestors came to believe in Christianity and love Señor Santo Niño a lot. The festival’s image or statue Señor Santo Niño serves as another prop.

Some people also show off their tattoos or body paint. They dance their cultural dances while walking around the city, too. 

People say that street dancing, in which groups wear colorful costumes and paint their bodies, serves as one of the best parts of the festival. Their costumes have designs that look like armor to represent warriors from the past.

Pintados Festival Food

pintados kasadyaan festival
Source: Wow Paradise Philippines

Outsiders still think of 2013 super typhoon Yolanda when they hear the name Tacloban. Many of us probably remember pictures and stories about the terrible disaster that hit the capital city of Leyte. One and a half years after the disaster, Tacloban has worked hard to get back on its feet. Now, it serves as the center of business and trade in the Eastern Visayas.

This led to a gastronomic renaissance, with many small restaurants and cafes opening up again. If you look up “What to eat in Tacloban” on the Internet, you’ll get a long list of foods that will make you hungry right away.

Here are the delicacies you must try during the Pintados Festival: 

1. Binagol

Tourists and people who live there know that your trip isn’t complete until you try binagol. You also need to bring some home. Lastly, you must share it with your family and friends.

Binagol is a sweet treat with a unique taste. Makers of this treat pack it on a coconut shell cut in half. They then cover it with banana leaves. 

People use the crushed root crop “taro” or “gabi” to make binagol. They then add a mixture of flour, sugar, and milk. Interestingly, the word “bagol,” which means “coconut shell,” led to the name “binagol.”

2. Moron

Moron is another famous dish from Leyte. It tastes a lot like binagol. A soft, sticky, smooth, and oily rice cake, the treat came from Tacloban City.

Making moron involves usingglutinous rice, called “malagkit na bigas” in the Philippines. People then cook it in cocoa and coconut milk. 

Moreover, moron the rice cake sounds like “morong.” It also has the same shape as suman. The stress exists on the last syllable. You can mix it with cocoa or chocolate. 

As an alternative, you can just eat it by itself. Either way, Moron tastes delicious

3. Suman-Latik

We have another rice cake for you: the suman-latik. In particular, cooks make suman using glutinous rice, coconut milk, and brown sugar. Then, they use lye solution to flavor it. The lye gives the suman a kind of greenish color.

Then, the cooks wrap the suman in a banana leaf. However, some cover it using hagikhik leaves. They also come triangles instead of rectangles.

The latik, which looks like caramel sauce, comes from coconut milk, kalamay (made from pure sugar cane), and peanuts. People then pour it on top of the suman. The best toppings include grated coconut meat as well.

4. Budbud

In places where people speak Tagalog, they call rice cake “suman.” However, in Leyte, they call it “budbud.”

Another tasty dish made of glutinous rice steamed with salt, people wrap budbud using the buri palm leaves. They also wrap it using banana leaves. Then, they cook it in coconut milk.

The rice they use can be sweetened or not. Filipinos love it as a snack all over the Philippines, not just in Leyte.

5. Roscas

Roscas are butter cookies that come from Barugo, Leyte. They are more challenging to bite than other butter cookies. People usually make them for the holidays. However, roscas became so popular that you can find it almost anywhere in Leyte. 

People use flour, sugar, eggs, butter, anise, and lard to roscas. It also looks like a chicken leg because of its U shape cut in half. Cooks then add anise to flavor the delicacy. This gives roscas a unique taste.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Pintados celebrated?

Pintados is celebrated every year to honor Señor Santo Niño or Holy Child. The Pintados Festival is held on June 29 in Tacloban City, Leyte.

What is Pintados Festival celebrated?

The Pintados Festival is a cultural and religious event in Tacloban based on how the ancient “pintados” warriors painted their bodies. 

Where is the origin of Pintados Festival?

Pintados originated from the Spanish for “painted.” The festival got its name from this term. 

What month is Pintados Festival?

The Pintados Festival or the “Festival of Festivals” takes place in the month of June.


The Pintados Festival highlights the rich culture and interesting history of the Philippines. It also represents the well-known hospitality of Filipinos. Add to that the mouth-watering food in Tacloban and you get the perfect festival.

Are you excited to join the Pintados Festival? Let us know in the comment section below.

Do you want to know the other popular festivals in this beautiful country of ours? Well, then read our article “Famous Philippine Festivals: Highlights and Pasalubong“.


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