Pintaflores Festival – When Nature and Arts Collide
San Carlos is a city located in Negros Occidental. It has a great location at the crossroads of Bacolod in Negros Occidental and Dumaguete in Negros Oriental. These are the two major cities of the Negros Island. It is also on the side of Cebu City, making it a departure hub with a port onboarding tourists going to one of the most famous tourist spots in the country.
But the city of San Carlos is not just a connecting point for local and international tourists. It is also worth visiting with its special event, the PintaFlores Festival, which I witnessed.
What is PintaFlores Festival?
PintaFlores is a festival that combines two celebrations. Its name comes from the Spanish words “pinta”, which means paint (but in this context loosely translates to tattoo), and “Flores”, which means flowers. Celebrated every 5th day of November, this event merges nature and arts, making it a fun and unique experience for tourists like locals and me.
In addition to the unusual fusion of flowers and tattoos, the PintaFlores festival has an exciting past rooted in the Spanish era.
History of PintaFlores Festival
According to the locals, the story started with a princess named Nabingka. She hailed from Cebu during the Spanish colonial period. She has then taken on a challenge to seek unexplored islands. In her quest from Cebu, she discovered its neighboring island and decided to stay there. The townspeople loved the princess for her wit, charms, and timeless beauty. She became so popular that the people changed their town’s name after her. People named the town Nabingkalan.
Then in the 17th century, Princess Nabingka became the ruler of Nabingkalan. However, she contracted a disease, so she looked for a local folk healer, a babaylan, as they called it before. The babaylan advised her to have flowers as they believed that it has healing capabilities. The locals did their best to plant flowerbeds for her. But due to the severe weather conditions, the flowers did not blossom. So the babaylan then requested the villagers to paint flowers for her instead. Miraculously, Princess Nabingka felt better. The people celebrated, dancing and cheering, as their beloved princess recovered from her sickness.
The people of Nabingka still celebrate this joyful occasion yearly as a barrio tradition. Young women are in ornate and dainty ball gowns with floral designs representing Princess Nabingka. Some also had flowers painted on their bodies, paving the way for the floral-themed tattoo tradition and costumes they now have. Even now that the city changed its name to San Carlos, Princess Nabingka’s story of strength and victory lives on as a well-known tourist attraction and cultural heritage.
Why should you experience the festival?
Now with that captivating story of the festival’s roots, the PintaFlores festival has evolved into a joyous week-long celebration that peaks on November 5 yearly. Here are some reasons you should experience the fun of the PintaFlores festival that I also experienced.
1. The colorful and joyous dance rituals and a street dance competition with intricate costumes are beautiful. After two years of hiatus, the PintaFlores festival is finally back. Everyone can now spectate and enjoy the graceful dancers flaunting their incredible choreography in colorful costumes. The spectators are in the streets, gathered and pumped up with the festivities. You can join the fun and dance with everyone. It’s also nice to meet friendly and welcoming locals and fellow tourists.
2. You get to visit the San Carlos Borromeo Cathedral which is known for its unique architecture. The church is a mix of Byzantine, Gothic, and Romanesque architecture and has become a diocese in 1998.
3. San Carlos City has a lot of local coffee shops serving the best coffee and sikwate. One notable shop is Titing’s Cafe, which is known as one of the oldest coffee shop and painitan in town.
How to get to San Carlos City
The best possible route going to San Carlos City is via Toledo City in Cebu.
From Cebu City, take a bus or a van (whichever suits you best) going to Toledo City. The trip usually takes 1-2 hours depending on the traffic and fare costs around P200. From Toledo City, get onboard available fast crafts (FastCat) going to San Carlos City. Travel time is roughly 2hours and fare is around P250-350 depending on the type of accommodation. Belowis the schedule for FastCat:
Toledo – Sancarlos
Sancarlos – Toledo
Visiting San Carlos during the PintaFlores festival will not only make you enjoy the fun and colorful festivities. You also witness how miraculously, nature meets history and art. This stunning tradition is a great spectacle rooted in a story of love, strength, and overcoming adversities. It will be truly unique and unforgettable for you once you experience it yourself.