Pintados de Pasi Festival

Pintados de Pasi Festival is a cultural and historical festival and founding anniversary held in the inland city of Passi in Iloilo, Philippines every March, coinciding the date that Passi was granted cityhood status which is March 14, 1998.

Thus, the festival is a blend of commemorating the proud tribal culture of body-painting of pintados and celebrating its historic elevation from a municipality to a city.

Activities may begin as early as second week of March and in some years stretch into the month of April. It is one of the popular cultural festivals in Western Visayas.

History of Pintados de Pasi Festival

Pintados de Pasi Festival comes from the word pintados, the name given by Spanish colonizers to inhabitants of Visayas who had permanent and intricate tattoo art on their face and body.

Tattoo was an ancient Filipino art-form. It was given to individuals as a sign of social status, a rite of passage, and a symbol of one’s bravery—a tradition that was lost significantly over centuries. They may be earned through triumphs in battle or inscribed on a warrior’s body as magical talisman to aid in protection during intense fighting. Symbols that were etched on the skin were documents of not only the personal history of the individual but also the richness of tribal culture of their ethnic group.

The first Pintados de Pasi was organized in March of 1999.

In 2020, Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. issued Executive Order No. 028-B that halted all public activities because of coronavirus pandemic. Thus, Pintados de Passi Festival was cancelled in that year. And in 2022, it pushed through with a few of the activities made available for online live-streaming.

History of Passi City

Passi was organized as a town as early as 1766. Its name originated from grains of unhusked rice called pasi. It is believed that its first settlers were Malay immigrants who were siblings and they did so before the Spanish conquest. It became briefly the capital of the province of Iloilo before the onset of the second world war.

Pintados de Pasi was held a year after Passi became a component city of Iloilo by virtue of Republic Act 8469, “An Act Converting the Municipality of Passi in the Province of Iloilo into a Component City to be known as the City of Passi” under then the administration of Fidel V. Ramos. Its cityhood was finalized on March 14, 1998.

Thus, the festival is a celebration of a momentous point of history of the newly-formed city. Tacloban city also celebrates Pintados Festival every June.

Pintados de Passi Festival Dance

Pintados de Passi Dance involves seven steps called Saot sa Rarug created by Jose Balcena. Contingents who are joining the tribal dance competition must perform the dance, which are said to reflect the pintados movements.

Pintados de Passi Festival Schedule of Activities

Pintados de Passi Festival holds various festivities that can surely give other festivals in the region a run for their money. There are food festivals, trade fairs, garden shows, concerts, live bands, and exhibits. Competitions are also held in categories of sports, photography, etc.

Here are some of the highlights.

Binibining Pintados de Pasi

Binibining Pintados de Pasi is a beauty pageant for females. It is a competition that seeks to handpick the best candidate who can espouses the vibrant city and espouses its cultural heritage.

Ginoong Pintados de Pasi / Pinta sa Lawas

Ginoong Pintados de Pasi is a pageant for males. It is a contest that selects that best male candidate who represents the virtue and pride of the city and of the festival. Part of the beauty contest is Pinta sa Lawas, an area of competition where candidates showcase their interpretation of the ancient tribal custom of body painting.

Karosa Parada

Karosa Parada comes from the words karosa, meaning carriage, and parada which means parade. This street parade is an event participated by different barangays, the smallest government unit in the Philippines, of the city where their representatives ride on embellished carriages drawn by water buffalo, locally known as carabao. Carabaos are also in competition called Carabao Gwapa Contest or in some years Karbaw Pagwapa-Pagwapo. The said competition picks the animal with the best ornamentation.

Pintados Street Dance Competition

Pintados Street Dance Competition is a gathering of contingents during the grand parade. Contingents flow through the major streets in the city and perform their street dance routines. Winners are declared based on their performance and according to a set of criteria and they received prizes before the end of the festival. The Grand Parade usually occurs on March 14th, the anniversary date of the Passi’s cityhood.

Pintados Tribe Competition

Pintados Tribe Competition is held on the last day of the festival. It is a tribal dance showdown of contingents, at the end of which the utlimate winners are declared.

Where to go

Major activities occur in Plaza Paloma, Passi City Hall, indoor activity centers, and various thoroughfares in the city.

How to reach Passi City, Iloilo

Passi City, Iloilo can be reached via air, land, and sea. One can purchase a flight at Iloilo International Airport, which is about 50 kilometers away or roughly over an hour of land-based travel. Bus trips from various points in Panay island are also available. Sea ports of Iloilo are also access points, and upon arrival one can travel in buses going to Passi city.


Pintados de Pasi Festival Summary

NamePintados de Pasi Festival
CelebrationCulture, History
DateMiddle of March
EstablishedMarch of 1999
LocationPassi, Iloilo
OrganizerCity Government of Passi
Other NamesPintados