Tattooed on My Mind: Philippine Travel Stories

The Philippines is home to one of the oldest, if not the oldest, traditional tattoo artist in the world. Whang-od, the world-renowned centenarian from Buscalan, Tinglayan, Kalinga, is often referred to as the “last” mambabatok, or a traditional Kalinga tattooist. Tattoo has always been a part of Philippine culture. If we marry tattoos and the beauty of the Philippines, like what we see in the VisitPinas-tagged photos in Instagram, we get the following:

Dutdutan na!

Ok, this one doesn’t involve any Philippine landscape, but it shows intense work in the longest-running tattoo gathering in the Philippines — Dutdutan. According to Dong D. (check his Instagram account, @dongtheexplorer, for more photos): “The 18th Dutdutan Tattoo Expo kicked off today [September 21] at the World Trade Center in Pasay City…the longest running annual gathering of tattoo enthusiasts in the country.”

That’s a mug, yes. It’s a mug of coffee, photo courtesy of Charlyn Faith Gabito (check her Instagram account, @peytfull, for more photos). How is a mug of coffee connected with tattoo? The answer is staring right at you.

The person with her face printed on the mug is Whang-od and this cup of coffee was served in Buscalan Village, Tinglayan, Kalinga, with the amazing view of the rice terraces. If you still don’t get it, that means you didn’t read the intro of this article.

Elegant and Beautiful

Now, let’s go to tattoos and scenes from the lovely Philippines. On the background of the photo above is the cloud-peppered green peaks of Treasure Mountain, located in Tanay, Rizal. On the foreground is an elegant lady, Pamsy (check her Instagram account, @pamsy_g, for more photos), with the sun tattooed on her nape.

She’s figuratively drunk with the amazing sight, but she’s also literally drunk, she admits: “Drunken on the hill. Haha! Lesson: Never go on a hiking drunk. I’ve had the best view but was so dizzy to appreciate it. One wrong step and I’m dead. Nevertheless, I love you Pinas! Nothin beats!” We couldn’t agree more — both on how beautiful the Philippines is, and how one should not go hiking while drunk.

Love Nature

We’re trying to figure out this tattoo by heeeymich (check her Instagram account, @heeeymich, for more photos). It looks like a plant, which makes sense, because this lady apparently loves nature, without fear how the elements affects her, ahem, sensitive skin.

A quick check of her photo’s hashtags reveals that it’s a sunflower. Still a plant, yes, but it sounds more badass when you’re asked what’s your tattoo and you answer, “it’s a sunflower….complete with stem and leaves.” Right?

Tanned Tattoo

The Philippine beach, and we have lots of those here, is where you want to add more tan in your tattoo, like in the Paliton Beach in Siquijor, also called the Little Boracay, photo courtesy of MishLish (check her Instagram account, @mishlish, for more photos). That’s a butterfly tat, Mish said. A tiny butterfly on a beach. Nice.

Sweet Tattoo

There are different kinds of tattoo, that much is pretty much obvious by now. If there’s a tanned tattoo, there’s also sweet tattoo, like this:

This tattoo is a bit crowded. We mean, it’s posted by Henry Cotillon (check his Instagram account, @certifiedpalaboy, for more photos), with Jasper and Mags Dizon as subjects, at the Magpupungko Rock Pool, Siargao Island.

Jasper, describing the tat, said: “It’s from The Butbut tribe of Buscalan Village. Made by Grace and Emily, grand daughters of Apo Whang-od. The Center is a crab and it symbolizes safety for travellers. Around it is a Sun because life revolves around it.” Nice, man.

Explosive Tattoo

You can marvel at the sight of the majestic Mayon Volcano, in the same way that this lady who loves to fill her life with experience “through traveling in a body suit” (mind explaining what that means, Sheng?) is enjoying the view, but you need to look closer at her back, those star-filled back.

“It’s not about just seeing beautiful places. It’s about seeing the beauty in every place.” Very well said, Sheng Amurao (check her Instagram account, @shengamu, for more photos).

Victorious Tattoo

“Challenge accepted,” says Ian George (Lakaw ni Ian).

The challenge is climbing Mt. Taraw in El Nido, Palawan (check Ian’s Instagram account, @ian_george, for more photos).

[We will revise this post, so tag us with your tattoos with scenes from the Philippines.]

[Photos reproduced with permission (thanks). Tag your Philippine travel photos with #visitpinas so we can track it down. Photos will be featured in this blog’s photo of the day and in instagram/VisitPinas, facebook/VisitPinas, twitter/VisitPinas.]

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