Street pageant depicting the legendary and mythical story of
Merry-making after a good coconut harvest.
An exciting race of one-man native sailboats with outriggers
locally called "subiran" along scenic and historic Leyte Gulf. The
race is done without using a paddle but only skills and techniques to
maneuver the sail.
A dance festival of painted dancers celebrating important
events like exploits of war, nature worship in narrative dance movements
depicting their own folk practices and beliefs.
The custom of tattooing earned for the Leyteños the name of Pintados.
From ancient history, Roman conquests mentioned tattooed people in Britons,
Saitas, Oriental Tatar and other parts of the world.
The origin of the practice is difficult to determine but the strongest
contention is that an ancient priestess instigated it and through the
members of her cult, began the custom.
The tattooes, however, became distinctive marks of courage, and generally
made the origin and livelihood of the bearer identifiable.
Tattooes began from ankle to groin and those in the chest were made like
When the missionaries from Spain arrived in Leyte, they found the Pintados
gruesome but later learned to appreciate the happy contentment and beauty of
the people. With the coming of the Spanish, the people learned new
ways of life and blended this neo-pagan ways of the Pintados.
The Feast of Sto. Niño, the revered patron saint of Tacloban
is celebrated with a pageant reenacting the historical exchange of images
between Barrio Buscada of Basey, Samar and Sitio Kankabatok now Tacloban
City. The Basey Flotilla bearing the church and government leaders
goes on a fluvial procession along San Pedro Bay. "Budyong" (shell)
call announces the sight of the flotilla off Kankabatok Bay.
Sto. Niño de Leyte
In mid-1888, some 25 Tacloban residents formed the "Hermanidad
Han Sto. Niño", a brotherhood in honor of the Holy Infant to prepare the
celebration of the Feast of Santo Niño.
The present image of the Santo Niño was brought to Manila for routine
face-lifting and change of its vestments. On His was to Tacloban, the
steamer "Luzaon" which carried the image caught fire off the coast of
Romblon and Mindoro. In the confusion, the crate containing the Image
was thrown overboard.
No celebration was held, as the Hermano Mayor, Mayor Arcadio Zialcita was in
quandary and grief over the loss of the revered Patron of Tacloban.
Devotees almost gave up hope of ever seeing the Image again. Six
months later, in May 1889, a letter from the Military Governor of Leyte
informed that the barrio lieutenant of Bo. Semirara in Mindoro sighted a box
labeled "Santo Niño, Patron han Tacloban."
The January fiesta was given over to the children as "hermanito mayores" for
the fiesta. And the small image of Santo Niño, the "Sargento" was made
to stay in the home of whoever was the "Hermanito Mayor" for the next
From then on, the grand fiesta of Tacloban was to be celebrated on June 30
of every year. The original image, the "Captain" remained in the main
altar. The second image, the "Teniente" is the one turned over to the
Hermano Mayor for the succeeding year, and then brought back to the Santo
Niño church after the week-long novena. Then, the traditional
turn-over ceremonies of the "Teniente" is made by the immediate past Hermano
Mayor to the incoming Hermano Mayor. This is accompanied by the ritual
of giving the Medallion containing the names of all Hermanos Pasados and the
[ native sailboats ]
[ pintados dancers ]
[ balyuan procession ]