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Filipino Tattoo

One day after work, I decided to get on Pinterest and look at some tribal tattoos. Since living in Hawai'i, I have an interest in tribal tattoos. I've wanted to get one for the longest time but I don't think it's appropriate for me since I am not of Polynesian descent. I like the lines and the geometric shapes. I know those lines mean something and I never wanted a tattoo that wasn't 1. meaningful to me or 2. just for looks because everyone is getting it. (It's how I avoided the butterfly tribal tramp stamp.)

Well, there seems to be a resurgence of Filipinos getting interested in tribal tattoos. It seems you can't talk about Filipino tattoos without discussing Whangp-od. I think a lot of tattoo aficionados are obsessed with this elder Filipina tattoo artist. She's over 100 years old and lives in the Kalinga province. She uses the traditional technique of tattooing called batok which involves tapping the ink into the skin. A lot of people flock to her to get a traditional tattoo and it has lead many to believe that she is being exploited.

I never knew the Filipino tribes had tattoos. I should have known because I took a Filipino anthropology class in college and on the cover of the text was a drawing of two tribal Filipino men. They were covered in tattoos.(The picture you see is what was on the textbook.) It never dawned on me that Filipinos did tribal tattoos. A Spanish explorer called the Visayans he encountered "pintados," which means painted. I never stopped to look at the tattoos on their body. I never really considered Filipinos before the Spanish colonized and influenced the culture.

PIntados from the Boxer Codex

I think my view of tattoos came from my family. My Filipino grandmother opposed tattoos; I think she thought they were tacky. (Fun fact: My mom and I went to Hawai'i in 2019 for my gramma's funeral. On the day we left, we laid flowers on my gramma's grave. It started to drizzle despite the sun being out with minimal clouds. My mom said "That's gramma crying because of your tattoos" and then she laughed.) I don't think my parents like my tattoos that much. I think they hate it when people ask me about mine.

There is now a resurgence of Filipino tribal tattoos and I am excited. I can now get a tribal tattoo that means something to me and represents my culture. I won't be some lame poser just trying to get a tribal tattoo. I don't know if a lot of people of Filipino descent are getting these but I really don't care. I know that I want an artist to design one that means something to me. I mean, I can actually say that I am a descendant of the Pintados- my Filipino family comes from Cebu and Leyte. It's awesome to see Filipino tattoo artists who specialize in these tribal tattoos along with the traditional script. It's an exciting time to be alive and yes, one day I will get one from a Filipino-American artist.

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