In the Philippines, tattoos are often a matter taboo to elder Filipinos and one that’s evolved into an art form for the youth. There used to be a negative connotation behind the idea of getting tattoos for aesthetic and for vanity’s sake, it’s also correlated to criminals who are often keen to get tattoos in prison, highlighting bad behavior and bad decisions as tattoos tend to symbolize in general. However, as the Filipino youth continue to proliferate and grow with the modernity of times, tattoos have been embraced as a form of artistic expression.
Tribal Tattoos with Wang-od
Tattooing is an activity that has been around for centuries and is popularly customized in tradition amongst tribes from various parts of the Philippines and the world. In fact, the oldest and last “mambabatok” popularly known as Whang-od from the indigenous group called the “Butbut” people of the larger Kalinga ethnic group in the Philippines is a national treasure. Whang-od Oggay is known as Maria Oggay, the first female tattoo artist in the country and is still teaching girls the art of independent tattooing with tribal ink at 102-years-old.
With the likes of Wang-od making national and international news, tattoos have become a more subtle art form to appreciate than just a flawed and outdated connotation. There’s a number of budding tattoo artists in the Philippines and although they’re not tribal inkers like Wang-od, they are absolute talents in mastering terrific tattoos with every needle stroke. If you’re thinking to get tatted soon or planning to add to your collective body of tattoo art, then below are some female tattooists carving a name for themselves in the business.
Tattoo artist Gigie Santiago is a Filipina tattoo artist who’s made something of herself in the tattoo scene in Manila in just four short years. Santiago is popular for her floral designs and precision in lines, which is something truly tasteful yet delicate in every stroke she makes on the skin.
What makes Santiago’s tattoo studio unique is it comes off as an art gallery of her work, as well as other foreign artists that inspire her style in tattooing. Some of which feature international artists like Nikko Hurtado and Marco Luzz among others, as well as local Pinoy artists including Auggie Fontanilla and Miguel Alberto Antonio.
Santiago’s rates start at Php 2,000 for black work. Santiago’s studio is located at Project 4, Quezon City, Manila with the specific location given upon private email correspondence. It’s open from 1:00 to 8:00 pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.
When it comes to shapes, lines, figures, and 3D geometry in ink work, one name comes to mind and that is Camsy Valencia. The Filipina tattoo artist is known for her iconic work with black work using intricate mandala patterns and sacred geometries in her designs.
Her most celebrated work is for creating lace patterns on the skin, something she playfully executes with is fauna themes making her line work bolder and more graphic. Valencia’s been in the tattoo business for eight years now, with rates starting at Php 2,000 for a basic black 2”x 2” work. Appointments can be arranged through private correspondence with Valencia who is located at AFPOVAI, Taguig City, Manila and open daily from 5:00 pm onwards.
Watercolor Ink Work
If you follow ink work on Instagram, then maybe you’ve come across Kat Lorenzana’s work. Lorenzana is known for her watercolor ink work which highlights her precise blend work of watercolor and linkwork.
Her work experiments with themes on flora and fauna, and has traveled to various parts of the world for different ink shows, most recently, she showcased her work in the Singapore Ink Show 2017. She’s done tatt work on famous Filipino actors like Jericho Rosales and Piolo Pascual and has been featured in Cosmopolitan Philippines. Lorenzana works in 55Tinta and also has her own shop located at Alvarez, Project 4, Quezon City, 1109 Kalakhang, Manila, her rates for basic black ink range from Php 1,500 to 2,ooo and will depend on hour basis.
Tatts are here to Stay
Tattoos have exceeded its own art form and have flourished into a whole new medium of art many creative young Filipinos look to for innovation, imagination, and self-expression. Finding the right time and the right custom design for your taste, whether it representative of personal experience, or simply just for aesthetic purposes, these four phenomenal women thriving in the tattoo scene are some to check out when you’re finally ready to get one for yourself if ever you find yourself in Manila.