Monday, December 7, 2009


The Pintados de Pasi Festival is one of the most awaited celebration both local and foreign visitors wanted to experienced. This weeklong fun-filled different activities is the Official Festival of the city is held every 14th of March. It commemorates the ratification and conversion of the Municipality of Passi into a city through a plebiscite held in 1998


Panay Island has a very rich cultural heritage. Dubbed as the cradle of civilization, its glorious past is diverse. Its fertile folklore has become the envy of other cultures that many have wanted to disprove them but to no avail.
The Island pride itself of the epic of Hinilawod and the story of ten Bornean datus. Its imposing landscape is a good mind of narratives that were passed on from generation to generation and have been preserved in the hearts of its people.
The first inhabitants of the Island called it Aninipay, after the name of the plant that was then abundant in the area. When the Malayans came, they named it Madia-as, which was the name of the highest peak in the Island.
The name Panay was given only after the Spaniards came to the Island. When Miguel Lopez de Legaspi settled in Cebu, he was faced with a problem of food storage. Hidden sent his men to scour the surrounding Island for food and one of the boats reached Madia-as. Having found plenty of food in the place, the crew returned to Cebu and reported the news to Legaspi who exclaimed in thanksgiving “Pan hay in este isla “food there is on the island!)”. The first two words eventually identified the island.
But unknown to many, the first batch of Spaniards that reached the island gave a different name to it. They called it “Isla de Pintados” after seeing tattooed men whom they called pintados or “painted people.”
The art tattooing was practiced all throughout the island. The chronicler Miguel de Loarca, in his account in Historia Pre-Hispanica de Filipinas Sobre la Isla de Panay, described the pintado practice, thus:
“The mean tattoo intire bodies with beautiful figures using small pieces of iron dipped in ink. This ink incorporate itself into the blood and the marks are indelible.”
Culturally, the inhabitants of Panay used tattoos to exhibit their record in battle. The more tattoo marks a man had on his body, the higher his status as a warrior. The elegance of the pintado practice has raised tattooing into the level of art. They do then with such order, symmetry, and coordination that they elicit admiration from those who see them.
While the men put tattoo all over their body, it was a rule in the old Panay society that women only wear tattoos on one side of their arms.
According to one account, while a group of Spaniards who had settled in Calinog went downstream of the Jalaur River and anchored in a place called Ansig, they saw a tattooed woman who Was winnowing pounded palay. One of them asked her what the name of the place is. The woman, who did not understand Spanish, thought that the man was asking what she was doing and replied “naga-pangpasi” which means peaking out unhusked rice from pounded palay. From then on, the Spaniards called the place “Pasi” which later involved into “Passi”.
As the Spaniards begun to Christianize the inhabitants of Panay, the friars believed the tattooing was a pagan practice and forced the natives to abandon the art, thus resulting to the disappearance of the pintado culture.
However, the practice did not escape the eyes of historians who recorded it with respect and veneration that this form of art deserve. For many, it was a practice that ought not only to be preserved but also to be revived in some other ways to highlight the fact that during the pre-Spanish era, an advanced civilization of artistic people had already flourished in this part of the archipelago.
It is in this context that Passi City, one of the earliest Malayan settlement in the island, embarks on this project to showcase and revive one of Panay’s rich cultural legacies from its ancestors.