In the Philippines, tattooing has been around for years and is a part of the country’s vibrant and colorful culture. When Spanish colonizers arrived in the Visayas five hundred years ago, they battled native warriors whose bodies were adorned with paintings. These indigenous tribes were then referred to as “Pintados” by the Spaniards, and it is said that the warriors with more body tattoos are said to be the bravest.
Body tattooing is a form of permanent body modification done by puncturing the skin with needles and injecting ink, pigments, and dyes into the skin’s deep layer to form symbols or images.
In the past, tattooing was often associated with prison gangs, and having a tattoo connotes being a corrupt member of society. But in recent years, body tattooing has become accepted as a form of self-expression, and some consider it an art form.
As this art form does not come without risks, here is a cautionary tale if you’re planning to get inked.
Armando Lumapas Jr, 37 years old and a resident of Mandaue City Cebu, recently shared on Facebook a photo of his tattoo that got severely infected.
Armando’s tattoo of Jesus Christ with the Holy Spirit | CONTRIBUTED BY: Armando Lumapas Jr.
Not new to tattooing, with his first tattoo done in 2003, Lumapas had his mind set upon adding his seventh tattoo on his chest late in July. For P3,500 he had the job done by a tattoo artist who was his friend. He was satisfied with how his new tattoo looked; however, the day following his session, he experienced body aches and fever. Three days after, he observed that his tattoo was getting infected.
“Naa koy nabantayan nga na burotburot nga naay yellow liquid sa sulod og ni puwa og maayo akong panit.”
(“I noticed some bumps on my tattoo with yellow liquid inside, and my skin got very red.”)
As the infection started to affect his body and his work performance, he decided to visit his doctor to ask for prescription drugs and advice on what he should do. Thankfully, the itch and pain subsided, and he started to recover from the infection. Armando shared that he spent more on medicines than the cost of having his tattoo done.
“Sa wa pa maayo akong tattoo nga nag antos pako nga dili katulog og tarong og mismo pagsinina og pahubo nako sa sinina dili nako mabuhat tungod sa kasakit, na decider ko nga dili nako mag patattoo pero mag tan aw kos akong tattoo nga nainfected nga bati na kaayo, nadeform mura sad kog gidasig nga ako ning ipatarong inig abot sa panahon nga maayo nani.”
(“When I was still enduring my situation — can’t properly sleep and having a hard time even putting on and taking off my clothes because of the pain, I decided not to get tattoos anymore. But when I see my tattoo which got infected and is deformed, I have this motivation to get this fixed when it heals.”)
Speaking from a botched tattoo experience, Armando has a word of advice to those who want to try on getting inked.
“Sa mga nagplano nga magpatattoo, dapat ila gyung hunahunaon og maayo og dapat sila magpatattoo sa ilado og naa nay mga pangan nga tattoo artist bahalag mugasto silag dako nga kantidad kay sa maparehas akong naagian nga duble pa ang gasto og nag antos nsa kasakit og di katulog og tarong.”
(“To those who are planning to get a tattoo, you should ponder on it — if you want your tattoos done by well-known tattoo artists even if it takes you to shell out a big amount. You might end up spending twice the amount and bearing the pain and having difficulty sleeping.”)
Armando’s experience may not have been the best, but he said that he is willing to give it another try when asked if he will consider adding a tattoo again.
After one month, Armando shares that the wound is still painful but is now slowly recovering.