… and that’s why the Spaniards called them the “Pintados”

It is argued that the Visayans and Pintados–who are the
ones found in the Camarines, Leyte, Samar, Panay, Zebu, and other
neighboring territories–came from the large island of Macasar,
which is very powerful and densely populated. It has its emperor,
who is called Sumbanco, and many petty rulers. The basis of this
argument lies, not only in the short distance from that island to
this archipelago, for it is only distant about sixty leguas from the
point of Samboanga; but also because in Macasar, as is reported, there
are Indians who adorn and tattoo the body as do the Visayans (who are
called Pintados on that account).

But it is not known with certainty
where one and the other originated. We only know of a relation written
by the chief pilot, Pedro Fernandez de Quiros, of his voyage to the
Salomon Islands and their discovery by Albaro de Mendana de Neyra in
the year 1595. That relation is addressed to Doctor Antonio de Morga,
lieutenant-general for his Majesty of the Philipinas. The said Quiros
says in it that, finding themselves in ten long degrees south latitude,
they sighted an island to which General Don Albaro gave the name
of La Magdalena; and that from its port there came to receive them,
he says, “with seventy ships, more than four hundred white Indians,
of a very fine symmetry, tall, lusty, and robust, and so well built
that they far surpassed us. They had fine teeth, eyes, mouth, the most
beautiful hands and feet, and long hair. Many of them were very fair;
and among them were the must handsome youths, all naked, and without
covering over any part; and all their bodies, legs, arms, hands, and
in some the faces, were adorned as among these Visayans.” From this
it is evident that they are Pintados Indians; and that they were not
conquered, like those whom we call here Pintados Visayans. They live
in south latitude, in the same parallel as that of the north, from
ten to twelve degrees. But it is not easy to determine what might
be the origin of the others; since, although it is known that this
custom of tattooing and making figures on the body is found in Brasil,
in Florida, among the Scythians of Asia, and the Britons of Europa,
and even among the Moros of Africa, those nations are very remote from
our Pintados; and so remote an origin cannot be conceded to the latter.
400. The large island of Mindanao took its name from a large lake
(which is called Danao in the general language of these islands)
which is found in that island, and into which many rivers flow. The
same thing has happened in that island as I have said of the others,
namely, that its first owners and settlers must have been the
ones who are now found on the uplands and in the fastnesses of the
mountains and the crags. Since they are inclined to the mountains,
they allowed the foreign traders to settle their seacoasts and rivers,
as they were found uninhabited and defenseless; and when the latter
had taken possession of the best of the territories and districts,
the true owners were unable to expel the foreigners, since the latter
were the more powerful and civilized.
401. From this fact comes the variety of tribes that have been found
in that island of Mindanao: such as the Caragas, the Butuans, the
Cagayans, the Dapitans, the Mindanaos, the Malanaos, besides the
Tagabalooyes, Manobos, and Lutaos, and a great number of blacks,
like those of whom we have already written. Of all of them, when
we consider their first origin, there is no other inference than
that it was in the neighboring islands of Borney, Macasar, or the
Malucas, considering not only the Mahometan rites and their manner
of dressing, but also the bonds of sympathy existing among them. For
to this day they maintain their friendship and trade, and unite for
the protection of one another, although they are not all Mahometans,
and most of them are infidels, atheists, and total barbrbarians.

Source: Full text of “The Philippine Islands, 1493-1898 – Volume 40 of 55 1690 …

Reviving the art of Filipino tribal tattoos