PINTADOS DE PASI
Passi, one of the earliest Malayan settlements in Panay, has been a city since 1999 now. It is now going forward in the twentieth century by its continued development yet, at the same time, keeping its old style of tradition.
Tradition is witnessed in one of the biggest cultural celebrations observed in Panay which is Pintados de Pasi'. This is a very unrivaled and remarkable event that is rooted in the very hearts of the citizens of Passi.
Pintados de Pasi' is in its second year, a celebration of Passi from being a municipality into a city. People from all walks of life gather in this ritual to give magnitude to its foundation as a city.
The carabao, the Philippine's beast of burden is beautifully painted during Pintados de Pasi. A carriage is then attached to it, which is laden with fruits, vegetables and flowers together with a muse.
Pintados retraces the legend and history of Passi - the bonding of kindred spirits, the intermingling of the Aetas, Chinese, Malays, Muslim, Hindus, Spaniards, Japanese and the Americans.
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 of tattooing was practiced all throughout the island. The chronicler Miguel de Loarca, in his accounts in Historia Pre-Hispania de filipinas sobre la isla de panay, described the pintado practice.
The men tattoo their entire bodies with beautiful figures using small pieces of iron dipped in ink. This ink incorporates itself into the blood and the marks are indelible. Culturally, the inhabitants of Panay used tattoos to exhibit their record in battles. 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 them 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 the 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 to the Jaluar river and anchored in a place called Ansig, they saw tattooed women who were 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 picking out unhusked rice from pounded palay. From then on, the Spaniards called the place "Pasi" which later evolved into "Passi."
As the Spaniards began to christianize the inhabitants of Panay, the friars believed that 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. It was a practice 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.
The ancestors contributed much to the final shaping of the unique character of Passinhon which is always ready to face the new challenges and the festival.
THE FESTIVAL, AT PRESENT
It is in this context that the City of Passi embarks on this project to showcase and revive one of Panay's rich cultural legacies.
The celebration, not only of the foundation of Passi City but also of the return of the pintado culture is made colorful every year. Headed by Passi's First Lady Jinky Diaz-Palmares, the festival includes the search for Bb. Pintados de Pasi, Karosa Parada, Carabao Painting Contest, Pintados, Drum and Lyre Competition, snake dancing activity called Binayle sa Kalye and Hirinugyaw sa Pintados, which encapsulates the culture essence in one glorious moment of interpretative dance, sign languages and body movements as proud testimony of heritage and tradition. (With reports from Isabel Losaria and photos by Arnold Almacen).
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