I am more than what you have to say about my tattoos

“You’re a doctor and you have tattoos?” 

“How many tattoos do you have?” 

“What does your tattoos mean?” 

“Is it true that you get addicted to the pain?” 

“Why are you posting pictures like that? It’s too vulgar!” 

 “They say when you get one, it will multiply because it’s like a drug and you get addicted to it… is that why you get tattoos?” 

“Kababaeng tao… pupunuin mo ba katawan mo?” 

These are few of the questions that I often get when they see my tattoos. I can’t say it doesn’t get to me, it does but I just ignore people’s criticisms most of the time. It just gets tiring to say the same story over and over again. So before you judge me, just read what I have to say…

I have 9 tattoos, as of present time. No, i don’t get addicted to the pain on my skin. I’m not a masochist! Yes, it hurts and I got high tolerance for pain but I don’t get tattoos because I’m an addict. 

I’m actually not the type to get addicted to anything. I don’t even have vices! Yes, I do drink but only for the heck of having a good laugh with friends but I can say no, which I do on most times. People would often ask me if they can borrow a lighter and they would always get surprised when I say I don’t smoke. I’ve tried and used to smoke when I drink but I don’t ever crave for it so I just stopped in an instant… but with tattoos I don’t plan to stop anytime soon (still not addicted though).

All my tattoos are planned and thought about for a long time. I don’t get tattoos by pure impulse. I’m planning to get 3 more and would probably stop after that. I don’t plan to get tattoos on my arms or fill my back, I just want to fill my hips. Why? I’ll get to that in a bit. 

First, I’m going to answer the most asked question:  What does your tattoos mean? 

1. My first tattoo is an EYE OF HORUS. I had it done at 55 Tinta at Teacher’s Village in QC. The Eye of Horus is believed to have 6 parts which is comprised of the 5 basic senses of sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch plus the 6th sense which is often forgotten, the sense of thought. The eye of horus is a reminder to use the brain. It also signifies protection; to oversee everything and I had it strategically placed behind my ear because it’s a blind spot… a reminder to have an eye behind my back, to not forget to keep my guards up.

2. My 2nd tattoo is a CROSS and was done at P&P, Eastwood branch. People often ask me what it means and I always say “it’s a cross, what else could it mean?” The truth is, I’m just tired of explaining… My tattoo actually means that “my faith is not dictated by what my religion is but by my relationship with my God and nobody can take that away from me.” I respect the differences in religion or other people’s beliefs and I always choose not to say a word about it in any circumstances. My faith is mine and no religion can ever tell me how to be a child of God. I am a servant of the Lord and I will serve him according to my purpose. 

3. The rest of my tattoos are done by Sir Alvin Masaganda of Inkspirational. My 3rd tattoo is an identical to my college best friend’s. She had hers done on the wrist. We chose to have a tattoo on INFINITY of LOVE and LIFE (the cliche of all cliches in tattoo designs) because we have that unique bond. We have been through a lot together, life-changing struggles and even almost-death experiences. And remember the line from the Perks of Being a Wallflower? “In that moment we were infinite” –that’s our friendship. We will always have our infinity. 

4. My 4th tattoo is a TRIBAL ELEPHANT that I designed. Two of my best friends have elephant tattoos as well with just different designs. “Elephants never forget.” They stand for loyalty and courage and that’s what our friendship is all about. I don’t have a large circle of friends but I can say all my best friends are genuine and I would seriously take a bullet for them.


5. My 5th tattoo is a PHOENIX. (All Potter-heads should know this!) The phoenix is a mythical bird that symbolizes reincarnation. First they burn then they rise from their ashes. If you’re going to ask me to describe my life, I would say it’s like a phoenix. I always believe that whatever I go through; that even though the burn hurts badly, it’s just a preparation for a new beginning. I may be put down but at the end, I know I will rise and be a better person. 

6. My 6th tattoo is a picture of SKULL AND ROSES. It’s a symbol of each and everyone I meet in this lifetime. I believe in the saying that “Beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clean to the bones.” I have learned to look at people by their values in life and not on how they look. People would tend to be superficial and I chose to look past it. I don’t judge people for how they look, their status in life or their faults and flaws because I’m not perfect either… I judge them for how they treat other people and to me that’s all that matter. 

7. My 7th tattoo is BALLERINA SILHOUETTE with WINGS.. you can say it’s the BLACK SWAN as well. I have been dancing since I was little and it had always been my first love but to be a doctor, I had to make a choice. My parents have always disapproved of me training even until college. I was told to avoid extracurricular activities and to just study. The sacrifices I’ve made to be a doctor then took its toll on me, hence the dark image. It symbolizes the dream kept in the dark. I don’t blame my parents though. I want to be a doctor too, but I don’t want to be just that. I’m also a dancer and a band vocalist and with my love for dance and music, I decided I’m going to pursue music production (soon). I want to make people dance. I want people to fall in love with dancing and music the way I did. 

8. My 8th tattoo is the quote “SHE WILL BE LOVED” in my own handwriting. Oh I’m not a Maroon 5 groupie and I don’t think I’m a beauty queen who always belonged to someone else. It’s a mark reminding me that love comes in all forms–that God loves me, my family and friends love me and that should be enough. It doesn’t have to be from a guy or a significant other. It also reminds me to stop settling for less and that someday, someone will take me for who I am, flaws and all… in God’s perfect timing.

9. My latest tattoo is an ARROW and the ellipses signature by Apo Whang Od, the last Kalinga tattoo artist . It’s basically signifies that “An arrow can only be shot by pulling it backward. So when life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means that it’s going to launch you into something great. So just focus, and keep aiming.” 

I’m so sorry parents and the entire Filipino society, I’m not the “dalagang Filipina” you expect me to be but if being a Filipina is what you want to emphasize on then let me tell you, tattoos have long existed in Filipino history. Just take Apo Whang Od as an example. Tattoos have been a symbol of beauty and courage to Filipino tribal culture and according to Whand Od, “If you haven’t got a tattoo you aren’t a true warrior.” I may not be a “dalagang Filipina” but then, perhaps I’m a “true Filipina warrior.” 

My mother once told me, “How will you get a boyfriend when you got so many tattoos…” and I almost laughed. I don’t think my tattoos told my ex-boyfriend to cheat on me, did it? HAHA! Seriously though, I don’t see the reason for guys to be bothered by tattoos at all. If you are “too clean” to be disgusted or “too much of a wuss” to be intimidated by tattoos then I don’t think you have to date me or any inked girl for that matter. I respect that. I don’t need a man for validation and to put me in any stereotype. And ladies, stop the “slut-shaming” because it doesn’t make you any better.

I’m not objectifying myself by my tattoos or how I look either because tattoos don’t scream “Disrespect me.” Your morals dictate how you treat the opposite sex or any human being and I don’t think there was ever a time “disrespect or judge other people because you don’t like how they look” was ever taught in GMRC. 

To answer all the other questions…

No, I don’t post “vulgar” pictures because I’m trying to look sexy. Oh believe me, I got flabs despite hours to days of crossfit or muay thai and I don’t think that’s how you people describe as “sexy.” I post such pictures not because I’m flaunting body (eww) but because I’M FLAUNTING ART. I have always loved art and see tattoo artists as the greatest artists of the century! You should know how hard it is for some people to draw on a flat sheet of paper or canvas so just imagine drawing on a moving model with skin that can wrinkle or stretch! To be a tattoo artist is one of my dreams and if I got enough time, I would actually pursue it and be an apprentice. I have always loved art and even sketched tattoo designs for my friends. 

<Photo of my wall with a few of my sketches. And if you see the photo of (he-who-must-not-be-named) lurking around that wall, I’m not obsessing or whatever (everyone’s moved on already, so should you).  I just haven’t started sketching again (totally true, not being defensive) so I don’t have a replacement yet and I’m not affected seeing it so there…>

<Imitation of Sara Gaugler’s art. It’s my dream to get a tattoo by her, I just have to think of where to put it…>

Like what I said earlier, I don’t plan to fill my entire body, just my hips. Why? I’m a dancer and my hips have always been my “asset” (WOW. HAHA) in dancing. I learned Hawaiian when I was a kid and even though I’ve trained on different genres growing up and nobody really dances Hawaiian anymore, it’s still my favorite dance. I don’t plan to dance naked to flaunt it though if you think that’s what I’m implying. I don’t even mean to cover my stretch marks (yes, I got lots of it) but my hips have always been my favorite part of my body (next to my eyelashes).

And lastly… Yes, I’m a doctor. I’m yet to get my license after post-graduate internship but yes, I finished a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology and just graduated with my 2nd degree as Doctor of Medicine–my tattoos has nothing to with it. I have studied day and night, sacrificed my passions and missed every family event, dealt with patients appropriately and my skin marks never hindered me from showing compassion. I wanted to be a doctor because it’s my dream to be part of Doctors Without Borders but I know it’s a long way to go from where I am now. For now, I’m taking baby steps and became a World Vision sponsor and advocate–the marks on my skin probably got nothing to do with me trying to help others, right?

I’m a doctor. I’m a volunteer. I’m a dancer. I’m a frustrated musician and an aspiring music producer. I’m an artist. I’m a daughter. I’m a sister. I’m a loving godmother. I’m a true friend. I’m not bragging about my accomplishments because I’m far from being an “accomplished person.” I am who I am because I chose to not settle with being average. I will pursue my dreams and your malicious opinions can’t stop me.

All I’m really saying is that I respect we all have different views in life but I suggest you keep it to yourself… or maybe… just maybe, you can use your words and “critical” mind on inspiring other people to do something sensible with their lives rather than judging people on how they look. 

Let me put it in John Lennon’s words: “Don’t hate what you don’t understand!” 

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