Call me racist or any term synonymous to the word, but I have always set the standard that tattoos looked good only on good-looking people.
Men (well, seldom on women) who have tattoos but do not suit them well used to scare me – they always gave me the notion that they were always up to no good. “Street freaks” was the term I used to refer to them.
My idea of tattooed-people (regardless of the looks) however changed, when I accompanied my cousins last March 10 to have their biceps *ahem* branded.
55 Tinta Tattoo Pilipinas
You have probably heard of 55 Tinta Tattoo Pilipinas, the tattoo shop in 55 Maginhawa St., UP Village. Just beside my newest favorite hangout place (Tomato Kick), 55 Tinta is your venue if you want to get reasonable prices for your ink stains. Oh, and sometimes, this is where some of the biggest rockstars in the country gather and shift to their “steady lang” mode. If you are that lucky enough, one of them could even be the one to put his art on you.
So when my cousin found out that I was going home to take a short break from work, he then asked me to come with him and his brother that night to 55 Tinta. More than the feeling of excitement that I shared with my boys, I was actually curious on how tattoos are etched on people’s skins. And yeah, flesh at times, too.
My brother and I followed my cousins to UP Village (the bus took me four hours to get to Quezon City) around 9 pm. Since 55 Tinta opens at 3 pm until 12 mn, we still had enough time to grab a quick bite at Tomato Kick. Jiggy, the younger of the two brothers, went in first to have his arm etched.
Jiggy was asked to sign a waiver before starting the session. It was quite a shocker for us upon learning why the management gives waiver to the younger customers. Stories of parents rummaging and scolding the 55 Tinta staff for putting tattoo in the arms or bellies of their children were retold by the company we had – Idol and Emboy. From then on, the shop implemented strict rules for the customers to follow. But this gave my cousin the slight fright – waivers are usually signed when undergoing medical procedures. I even joked him that good thing, there was no DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) written on the form.
55 Tinta Tattoo Pilipinas provided a homey ambiance, as we were all greeted by the staff’s friendly smiles and warm greetings. Just like any other curious customer, we kept asking questions to Sir Alain while he was drawing ink on Jiggy’s arm. Maybe he ist used to inquisitive people already, because he did not bother how absurd some of our questions were. If I were the tattoo artist and the audience would keep on throwing questions at me, I’d probably get annoyed.
A Name That Shall Live Forever
Miami Ink and LA Ink are two shows I usually watch in Discovery Travel and Living channel. I find it amusing how each tattoo tells a story. It’s not just some random decision why you have the name of your boyfriend/girlfriend written permanently on your chest. (And then you don’t end up together – saklap!) Every color, stroke and figure etched on the skin is significant.
Faye is a cousin of Jiggy and Kuya Gino. When she visited the country last August 2010, she had her mom’s maiden name, Regaldia, tattooed on her wrist. Since she won’t be able to pass the name on to her children and grandchildren, Faye wanted something that would always remind her of her roots. The tattoo itself is a literal “outward” sign of her family’s hardships and milestones.
55 Tinta Tattoo Pilipinas did a very smooth job on this girl’s branding.
With no one to continue the bloodline of the Regaldia clan, my cousins decided to have the same design as well.
There is no question on why Filipinos just love to get tattoos. When the Spanish first landed in the Philippines, the Filipinos who welcomed them reportedly had tribal patterns in their entire bodies. No wonder the country was once named “La Isla De Los Pintados” or “The Islands of the Painted Ones”. In the 16th century, only the chieftains of the Filipino tribes were allowed to sport a tattoo, with the branding as an indicator of what rank the male is in.
For women, on the other hand, tattoo was a form of art and beauty. They even dared then to have full arm and chest tattooing. It’s only now where the society created the stereotype that tattoos are symbols of unspoken profanity for prisoners and tambays. Guilty, that’s me.
Jiggy and Kuya Gino wanted to pay homage to the name responsible for their existence. While watching Sir Alain, I could not help but think of other people’s reasons for getting tattoos. Not underestimating the pain brought about by the needle (Yes, my cousins say that it did hurt a bit.), one must overcome the physical discomfort to bring the tattoo to life.
Going back to “pain”, Jiggy and Kuya Gino said that the process was quite painful. Theirs were small tattoos, what more of Andreau Lacanilao’s? Kuya Andrew also had his right part of the back tattooed by Franco Reyes last April 2010. It was a huge tattoo showing the art of pointillism. Pointillism is a technique in painting where small, distinct dots of one solid color gather in pattern to form an image.
Sir Alain also gave points to remember when getting a tattoo. For us who live in today’s different times , we should learn when is the right time to get a tattoo. Never have one if you are still too young. Don’t even dare if you are not ready. Hold that thought of having yourself branded when you have no idea (not one bit) of what you want. Postpone your plans of visiting a tattoo shop if you are intoxicated.
While watching the whole process, my sister and I felt the urge to get our own tattoos as well. I felt very much excited for the boys, who, despite the pain, still managed to wear a grin in between deep breaths. Having a low tolerance for pain, I think that I still need to collect the right confidence, and to practice wearing a game face before letting my skin be branded. My sister, though, feels that she is very much ready to have one. I would not be surprised at all if one day she shows up with a star or a cross in her body courtesy of 55 Tinta. 🙂
Quoting a line from Franco’s song (Song for the Suspect), we really need to “understand, as much as we can.” A tattoo is a representation of a person’s story – a story which sets him apart from everyone else. When we learn to listen to what a person has got to say, chances are we would understand where he is coming from.
A tattoo in the long run could fade, but definitely hard to erase. So as a chapter in one’s life, no matter how hard you try to forget it, it would always be there to remind you of the lessons you have picked up along the way.
The trip to 55 Tinta Tattoo Pilipinas also enlightened me with my stand on people with tattoos. Everything outside is just physical. What matters is the life a person lives, and not how the person presents himself to his environment.
My cousins still can’t get over with their brand new features. More than the tattoo itself, it is their reason of getting one which I’m sure is what makes them proud. The ink that formed a precious family moment is forever inked on their skins.
They paid a price, but money could never pay the bliss the boys felt.
What 55 Tinta Tattoo Pilipinas marked on them were not just plain tattoos.
What these boys had for take home after leaving the shop were soul tattoos.
After all has been said, would you care for an etch? 🙂
Worth-mentioning: We did not go home immediately after Jiggy and Kuya Gino had their tattoos done. Who could resist a few rounds of Kick, and a tall order of Green Tea No Classic Hazelnut Syrup Blended Whipped Cream? 🙂