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Feature: No pedicab race nor protest rally can stop Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival

Taclooban City (June 28) -- Thousands of Sto. Nino tribes and devotees proved on June 27 that the Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival will continue to be staged despite deliberate moves to prevent its restaging this year.

This year's staging of the annual Pintados Kasadyaan Festival was a test to the participants, the devotees and the organizers' faith and determination to make the devotion to Senor Santo Nino remain to be the center of the annual festivities.

Despite attempts to prevent the festival from being staged, eleven Pintados tribes, eight Kasadyaan contingents, five mardigras groups and more merrymakers participated in yesterday's grand Pintados Kasadyaan Festival which started at 9:00 o'clock in the morning and ended at 5:00 o'clock in the afternoon.

The year 2009 marks the 14th year of the joint celebration of the Kasadyaan Festival and the 22nd year of the Pintados Festival which is the oldest festival in Region 8. Now known as the Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival of Festival, it used to be celebrated every 29th of June, the Vesper's Day of the Feast of the Senor Santo Nino de Leyte, until last year when with the coming in of a new mayor, the Festival was relegated to June 27 in favor of a new festival, Sangyaw, organized by the Mayor and his wife.

The trials and tribulations started with the non-issuance of permit to parade without any reason. Instead, a permit was given to a group of rallyists.

Despite intercessions and forum by well-meaning priests and laymen, aimed at enlightening the public on the truth about the Santo Nino devotion, cold hearts remained as such, while with the enlightenment, devotees' hearts were emblazoned with more fervor.

The relief came as Regional Trial Court Executive Judge Crisologo Bitas issued on Thursday a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) commanding the City Government through Mayor Alfred Romualdez to cease and desist from stopping and preventing the Pintados-Kasadyaan Festival parade and street dancing and the ritual presentations.

On the D-Day, a motorcycle race was "organized with the route carefully chosen directly to be on a head on collision" with the Festival. The Festival organizers remained unperturbed and had to change the route to preserve the intent of the event, to pay homage to Santo Nino.

The spectators rallied behind the Festival and at one time voluntarily made a human barricade to prevent the "organized and paid" ones from disrupting the festival street-dancing parade.

By the grace of God, realization came to the "organized and paid" ones who little by little inched away like the "devil being overpowered by Michael, the Archangel."

As one media practitioner rightly texted, "I have just witnessed the triumph of goodness over evil."

The first Pintados Festival on June 29, 1987 was in memory of the first inhabitants of the Visayas called "Pintados" whose art of body painting amazed the Spaniards. The Visayan men had their bodies tattooed from ankles up to their upper torso and the neck. The braver ones even extended their tattoo marks up to their cheeks, around their eyes and forehead.

The Festival is a brainchild of a group of pro-active businessmen in the city who saw the need to organize a big relevant event that would set a joyful mood as a fitting homage to the Patron of Tacloban, Senor Santo Nino.

As Mayor Roque Tiu, the founding president and Mr. Eugene Tan, the current president were quick to quip, the Pintados Festival will not have reached its 22nd year if the Taclobanons and the entire people of Region 8 did not merrily welcomed the celebration of the Pintados Festival on June 29, 1987.

Then Parish Priest of Tacloban now bishop of Naval, Msgr. Filomeno Bactol as chairman, Atty. Roque A. Tiu as the President, OIC Mayor Butch Veloso as the honorary chairman, Manager Shane Lim of Tacloban Coca Cola Plant, Manager Rommel Gonzales of the Philippine Airlines, Manager Mon Torralba of San Miguel Corporation, Mr. William Chan, Mrs. Evelina Acevedo of the Katolinan Dance Company, among others, formed the Pintados Foundation, Inc.

This group made a thorough research with the help of the experts in the culture and the arts, and finally came up with the Festival that kindles appreciation for the Eastern Visayan culture.

The Pintados Festival showcases the ancient practice of body painting and shows how the Visayan ancestors came to accept Christianity and develop great love for Santo Nino.

After 22 years, the Pintados Festival grew to be one of the landmark events in the province of Leyte drawing Visayans from all over the world to come home just to be part of the annual festivities.

It is now celebrated jointly with the Kasadyaan Festival of Festivals, making the celebration of the feast of the Santo Nino, an event the people of Leyte and the entire Region 8, can truly be proud of.

On the other hand, the Kasadyaan Festival was first staged in 1996 as project of the Eastern Visayas Regional Tourism Council through the inspiring leadership of then Governor, former Congresswoman of the First District of Leyte, now Vice President of PAGCOR Hon. Remedios L. Petilla.

This year's champion is the Pasaka Festival of Tanauan, followed by the Karatong Festival of Dulag and the Batobalani Festival of Bato, Leyte.

As one Pasaka Festival official said, I know that headlines will read 'Tanauan's Pasaka Festival triumps in Tacloban,' but it is not the winning that matters but the privilege to be part of the huge group of people who united and bound themselves together despite all odds, to continue paying a special homage and tribute to the Senor Santo Nino, the Patron of the Province of Leyte. (PIA 8) [top]

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