Celebrated each year during the 3rd week of March, the festival is one of the best known and established festivals of the Visayan region, having evolved through the years and now a popular tourist attraction. The bodies of street dancers and performers are adorned with elaborate design tattoos as they dance the story of the town and the way of life of their ancestors. The Spanish called this “Isla de Pintados” after seeing the tattooed men and women throughout the island. The friars who brought Christianity believed tattooing to be a pagan practice and forced the natives to abandon the art, destroying the pintado culture.
Historians however, documented the designs. 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 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.” The theatrical, synchronized movements of so many young dancers, the men dressed only in brief loincloths, sparring with staffs and spears, reenacting the hunt, or raging at the heavens, is a compelling sight fo behold each year in the streets of Passi.
Passi City, in the province of Iloilo, on the island of Panay, the Philippines. From Manila, direct flights of Philippine Airlines, and Cebu Pacific land at Iloilo, a flying time of about 45 minutes. Ferry trips from Manila's North Harbor aboard the ships of 2GO to Iloilo City usually take 24 hours.
A 150-acre (62-hectare) complex located in Pasay, Manila with performances, festivals, exhibitions, cultural research, outreach, and preservation of Philippine art and culture. Includes Tanghalang Pambansa (National Theatre) productions, architecture, film and broadcast arts, dance, literature, music, new media, theatre and visual arts.
Local and indigenous artists showcased have included Ballet Philippines, the Bayanihan Philippine National Folk Dance Company, the Philippine Ballet Theatre, the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, the Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group and the UST Symphony Orchestra.
The center has also hosted prominent and international artists such as Van Cliburn, Plácido Domingo, Marcel Marceau, the Bolshoi Ballet, the Kirov Ballet, the Royal Ballet, the Royal Danish Ballet, the New York Philharmonic, and the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra. The Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival takes place here each July/August.
Their online resource is an archive of the country's culture in videos, photos and other information gathered by the Cultural Center. See their website for upcoming events:
Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park is a 97,030-hectare underwater nature reserve mecca in the Sulu Sea, popular with scuba divers and a model for coral reef conservation. It's located in Palawan, the westernmost province of the Philippines, 150km southeast of Puerto Princesa City, at the heart of the Coral Triangle.
One of the most remarkable coral reefs on the planet the reserve is ranked among the eight best dive sites in the world by CNN. Features incude dramatic underwater terrain, and amazing biodiversity that includes large marine animals such as sharks, turtles and manta rays.
From Manila there are regular flights to Puerto Princesa, taking about 80 minutes direct. Dive operators usually transport guests from the airport to boats at the pier. It takes around 10 hours to get to the Park from Puerto Princesa. Most boats leave after dinner and arrive in Tubbataha early the next morning, but slower vessels leave the wharf earlier to arrive by first light. Dive season runs three months, from mid-March until mid-June. See their website for information on visitor fees and diver permits.