i continue to have feels about batok
February 2, 2015
again this post isn”t for white ppl. don”t reblog or share if ur white
i”m thinking (again or still) about tattooing amongst filipin@s in the diaspora…
and (of course) the issue of appropriation and our Indigenous ppls…
So. Like. In exploring some of what it might mean to both preserve and continue the current living tattoing traditions as well as reviving or reconstructing traditions that have faded away, I”m left with the age old problem of authenticity.
My question, here, is, is why (especially for those of us in the diaspora) so many of us feel like we need to have ~tribal tattoos~?
And this question is particularly relevant for ethnicities like mine, the Tagalogs, of whom we have very little evidence remaining of our tattoo traditions (if we had any). Part of this is colonization by spain and the US, but also our own fault for pushing Tagalog supremacy onto the rest of the PH. Since, if you try to search (as I literally just did) for ‘tradiotional tagalog textiles” or something like that, you quickly realize that trying to find information (esp. on the web or in popular resources) about tagalogs as a specific ~tribal~ ethnicity, it is pretty much impossible because of the way that tagalog and ‘filipino” have become synonymous. Again, this is partly our fault for trying to push Tagalog (as language) as the national ‘Filipino” dialect/language. We have so wanted this cultural and political hegemony that we”ve largely contributed to our own cultural/ethnic disappearance…
Anyway. Off topic somewhat.
The answer to the question, of course, is authenticity. Something which remains a perennial problem for those of us in the diaspora. Beyond the more altruistic and earnest motivations for getting traditional ~filipin@~ tattoos, i believe this desire for authenticity is what drives this need to get ‘real” and ‘traditional” filipin@ motifs and designs. Or basically, asserting that the ‘authentic” ‘traditional” filipin@ tattoos are always only the ‘tribal” ones.
Which tribe, though? Doesn”t matter. If ur a Tagalog and u get Kalinga tribal tattoos, this is authentic. For some mysterious reason. But not if, for example, you get a ‘modern” tattoo of a snake (say in the americana style). This is true even though snakes are a traditional motif and have important spiritual meaning in anito.
I urge all filipin@s in the diaspora to really examine their motivations and approach to re-engaging the traditional aspects of your respective ethnicity/tribe/group/whatever. Decolonization, in one important respect, is needing to understand that the PH is comprised of many different cultural and ethnic groups. That we aren”t a monolith. That a search for authenticity is already validating colonial logics (which state that we exist only as indigenous ppl in the past, never the present). That you remember that being here and alive and surviving is all the authenticity you need. Take a few moments and try to listen to what your ancestors are telling you.
(All of this goes extra for Tagalogs bc of our privilege over other groups)