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 Pintados festival of Tacloban City is a Filipino festival with its own unique flavor. This Pintados festival recalls Pre-Spanish history of the native Leytenos from wars, epics and folk religions. The most expected aspect of the Pintados festival are the festive dancers, painted from head to toe with designs that look like armor to resemble the tattooed warriors of old. During the course of the Pintados festival, dancers whose bodies are painted in an amazing array of colors fill the streets of Tacloban city. At first sight, they may seem outrageous as grown men pour into the streets decorated in such dazzling colors as luminous blue or neon green. But as one gets used to this and sees the dances depicted, one gets a glimpse of the history of the people that once lived on the islands of Leyte so long ago.
The folk dances presented by the dancers portray the many traditions that flourished before the Spaniards came. These include worship of idols, indigenous music and epic stories. The hypnotic rhythms of native instruments beat through the air accompanying the dances performed on the streets as the Pintados festival goes. Aside from the folk dances, is the much likely parade, which crisscrosses the avenues of Tacloban city. The parade traditionally begins at the Balayuan Towers and proceeds throughout tacloban leyte city. The surprised spectators follow the procession of dancing colors from the beginning to end. The Pintados festival concludes in much merrymaking with a signature traditional Filipino fiesta, where everyone is invited to join the fun and celebrate the Pintados Festival.
The Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival is a merry-making event lasting a whole month, highlights of which include the Leyte Kasadyaan Festival of Festivals, the 17th Pintados Festival Ritual Dance Presentation and the "Pagrayhak'' Grand Parade. These festivals are said to have began from the feast day of Señor Santo Niño, held every June 29th. The Leyteños celebrate a religious festival in a unique and colorful way. Since the Visayans are experienced in the art of body tattooing, men and women are fond of tattooing themselves.
The Pintados Festival displays the rich cultural heritage, incorporating native music and dances, of the people of Leyte and Samar . The Leyte Kasadya-an Festival of Festivals, meanwhile, showcases the unique culture and colorful history of the Province of Leyte . Started by former Leyte Governor Remedios Loreto-Petilla, the celebration was first held on May 12, 1996 . The festivities weren't always held every June 29th; the first three years saw different dates. It was only in 1999 that it was fixed to June 29, the Feast of the Señor Santo Niño de Leyte.
"Kasadyaan'' in the Visayan tongue means merriment and jollity. Various municipal festivals of Leyte gather together in the original capital of Tacloban City for the celebration. There, lively dance-drama parade of many colors takes place. There is an important role that the festival plays, and it is strengthening the Leyteños' sense of pride. Every municipality mounts a storyline all their own to portray with pride their local folklore and legends.