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Artist from Bukidnon promotes traditional tattooing to revive the ‘vanishing art’

By: Mary Rose Sagarino June 25,2022 - 02:16 PM

Bukidnon-native Piper Abas promotes traditional tattooing in order to save the already ‘vanishing art.” | Mary Rose Sagarino

MANDAUE CITY, Philippines–Piper Abas has been travelling to parts of the Visayas and Mindanao to promote traditional tattooing.

Abas, who is from the indigenous Higaonon Tribe of Mindanao, hopes to revive traditional tattooing by introducing this already dying tradition to members of the new generation.

“Naa pa may tattoo didto sa amoa [sa Mindanao] pero vanishing na pod siya, As much as we can, we want to retrieve, revive [this] sa new generation. Ako nagsugod gyud ko sa amoang roots…… Naa man gud ron, mura na siya og gisouvenir wala na ang essence,” he said.

Abas visited members of the Philippine Accessible Disability Services Inc. (PADS) in Mandaue City and gave some of its members a traditional tattoo.

He said that each of the tattoo designs come has a story or symbolism to tell.

It is important for individuals who wanted to get a traditional tattoo to understand the story behind each of the designs and for them to know where these came from so that they will be able to also appreciate these, Abas said.

And before he starts to ink, he also tries his best to match the person’s personally with the tattoo design that he/she is getting.

“Para makahibaw ta nga seryoso ba sila kay seryoso baya gyud ni para sa amoa. Giconsider man gud siya nga sacred,” Abas added.

Abas, who has been doing traditional tattooing for four years now, uses “sudlay pangpatik” that is made from a carabao’s bone that is shaped using a stone.  His “sudlay pangpatik” comes in different sizes.

His beater comes from a guava tree while the ink that he uses is from the seed of a candlenut.

John Paul Maunes, the founder of the Philippine Accessible Disability Services Inc. (PADS) in Mandaue City, was among those who decide to get inked by Abas.

“We want to contribute to the revival of the traditional tattooing at the same time ganahan sad ko nga naa tay own control identity. Ganahan sad namo nga kung mo travel man gali mi sa other countries, we wanted also to represent our culture through our tattoos,” said Maunes.

Maunes said his decision to have a python inked on his back was not the best experienced that he has had. According to the natives, pythons are messengers of the gods.

It took Abas three sessions to complete Maunes’ tattoo.  The duration of each session is dependent on the person’s tolerance to pain.

The PADS founder admitted that he felt pain at at times, but he was very satisfied with his tattoo.

Aside from him, other PADS members also decided to get inked by Abas.

Abas, who was a farmer for 13 years before he decided to study and do research on traditional tattooing, said he will continue to promote this tradition for as long as he can as his contribution to the revival of the already ‘vanishing art.’


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/ dcb

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