Travel Tattoo: What I Got And What It Means To Me
Do you have a travel tattoo?
To say that I love the Philippines is an understatement. Several years ago I got a travel tattoo down the left side of my torso (seen below). It looks large but since I am only 5’1, it really isn’t that huge in the grand scheme of things. I am quite the proud Pinay, or woman of Filipino descent since that is where I was born. I’ve wanted a tattoo that reflects my heritage for some time but it takes about a year or more to decide on a tattoo because I feel like since it’s permanent, it should be well thought out. That’s how I feel about it but I have friends who get joke tattoos all the time. Tattoos are a really personal thing and I’m the sort that prefers meaningful ones.
I actually didn’t like tattoos much before. I got a tattoo at 18 on a whim because my friend picked me up on my birthday and said, “Happy birthday I’m taking you to breakfast and then we’re getting tattoos!” Whelp! “What? My parents are going to kill me!” She says “Don’t worry, get something they can’t see!” I knew this would be permanent so I picked the symbol of Aquarius even though I’m not a huge astrology person. I figured I’d always have the same birthday so I couldn’t go too wrong with this decision. Thank goodness I didn’t get one on my lower back tattoo aka tramp stamp, as that was the rage at the time and got it placed on my shoulder-blade. After that, I didn’t get any more tattoos until a few years ago.
Lino, my tattoo artist, prepping
Back to my travel tattoo story…. I had wanted the map of the Philippines for some time but hadn’t had any time to get it done because I was on my round the world trip. I prefer to get work by an artist that I am familiar with rather than just anyone. I have a friend in Vancouver named Lino who is fantastic and has done all my other tattoos except for the Aquarius squiggle.
In 2011, my mother was terminally ill with pancreatic cancer in 2011 and I came home in time just to say goodbye. After I arrived, she died two and a half weeks later. It was a harsh blow to me but I am grateful to have been able to say goodbye and kiss her one last time. The day after she died, probably still drunk from my whiskey binge from the night before, I went to Lino’s studio and got my travel tattoo done. I now say that this tattoo is dedicated to my Mothers. My mothers being the Philippines, my Motherland, and Alicia, my birth mother. I think the pain I felt from the loss of my mother Alicia was so immense that I felt no pain from the needles hitting my skin and ribcage that day.
Freshly marked forever
Tattoos are almost like therapy to me now. It’s sad to say but my body is becoming a large memorial of people I’ve lost. One of the things that prompted my travels is the loss of my best friend and husband Eric. These losses remind me how life is so fleeting and short.
Sorry, Mom! I know you’d be mad but it’s all love for you