philippine tattoo

The Great Apo Whang-Od Oggay of Buscalan

At the age of 100, Apo Whang-Od continues to help her community by attracting tourists to their town who wishes to be tattooed by her. I didn’t get a tattoo, but being able to witness her strength and passion for the craft was an amazing experience already.

(Buscalan Village, Tinglayan, Kalinga, Mountain Province, PH)

How To Kill Yourself

Have you ever wanted to just end it? Have you ever said to yourself “I’ve had enough” or “I don’t want to live anymore”? It happens.  To others, more times than we would want to admit. It used to be just a fleeting thought but somehow, lately, you’ve been thinking about it more and more. Waking up, walking the dog, taking a shower, watching TV and before going to bed.  Same thoughts. It won’t go away.  So let’s end this, shall we?

This is a guide on how to kill yourself.

Let’s start with HOW.

Oh, there are so many ways.  Let’s talk about it one by one and examine them up close.  

Slitting ones wrists.

Vertical or Horizontal?  No one’s really sure.

Left or Right? Both? Damn.

How many times? Once? Twice? Three times? Jeez.

Razor or Knife?

All that blood though. Gross. Who’s going to clean it all up?  Just think about the person whose job is to clean up all your blood. Maawa ka naman.  

Slitting ones wrists.

 Next.

Jumping off a building.

Head first or feet?  Do I do a triple loop somethin’ somethin’?  I mean, I’m going to die anyway so might as well.  On the other hand, are you serious?  I mean, why do people do this in the first place?  When I hear about someone who jumped off a building, the first thing that comes to mind is SPLAT! Not a pretty sight.

Jumping off a building.

 Next.

Electrocution via bathtub.

Toaster? Blowdryer? But seriously, who has a bathtub? And do you really want to be shaking like that while your insides burn while waiting to die – NAKED?  It’s just too much going on on this one.   

Electrocution via bathtub.  

Next. 

Gunshot to the head.

What type of gun should you use? Do you have a gun? Where can one get a gun? How long does it take to get a gun?  You need a license for that right? Ugh, nevermind. Also, SPLAT.

Gunshot to the head.

Next.

Drug Overdose.

Gagastos ka pa ba?

Drug Overdose.

After all that’s said and done.  Let’s discuss WHEN would be the best time to kill yourself.

January – New Year

People will be too busy to care because they’re all going to be invested in themselves and their own self improvement.  Sorry, no time for you.

February – Valentine Month

Everyone’s in-love or just in the mood to be in-love. Pang BV ka lang if ngayon mo pa gawin

March – Graduation Month

Everyone’s busy practicing for graduation, finishing their resumes and looking for jobs. And March? Nothing really happens on the month of March. 

April – Summer

Too hot to be dead.  Who’s going to attend your wake when it’s too hot outside to even do anything? No one’s going to show up.

May – Fiesta

Fiesta nga eh. Makikain ka nalang sa neighbor mo. Sayang ang free food. Let’s just check next month.

June – School year begins

Everyone’s excited to be in school. If you die, walang mag aabsent.

July – Cinemalaya season

I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t miss this for the world. If you don’t know what this is, just check it out before killing yourself.  You won’t regret going, I swear.

August – Habagat season (Linggo ng Wika din)

 It’s too cold outside. They would rather sleep than go to your wake. Or others might go to Baguio. Not everyone will be able to attend. Remember, this only happens once. You only die once so make it count.

September – Habagat season (Check August)

October – Halloween

What? Miss the chance to see drunk people while wearing funny, dumb and crazy costumes? It’s gold. No one should miss such an epic event.

November – All Souls Day (Araw ng mga patay)

Redundant. Wag nalang.

December – Christmas

Really? Just think about the presents.

Alright, now that you’ve decided when to kill yourself, let’s discuss WHY you want to kill yourself.

Are you sad?  Do you feel like no one really cares and loves you anymore? I get you. We all feel that sometimes. We all feel alone sometimes. It’s just how it is. One day, when everything is right again, you’ll realize that the people you thought didn’t love you actually love you. It’s just a feeling, it will go away. It changes. You have to realize that everything can and will change. Feelings don’t stay the same forever.  

Do you hate your parents and your life in general? Hate is such a strong word. My take on the word hate is that sometimes it’s a good thing to hate. At least you know that you still feel something. You can still change how you feel as long as you still feel it. (Feel feel feel. Puro feel.)

Do you hate the way you look and feel right now?  Just focus on the words “right now”. It’s just for right now and you can always, always change what is right now.  

Do you feel like there are a lot of things missing from your life (like a lot a lot)?  It always helps to count the things you have and you’re grateful for. It helps to remember those things and to hold on to them as tight as you can as to never lose grip of what’s real. You can always get the things that are missing right now. But you have to remember to hold on to what you have now because we don’t want to them to join the “missing file”. You have to hold on to them, cherish them and love them forever.  

So WHY do you want to kill yourself?  I want you to think about it real hard.  You can’t do it and regret it after because you’d already be dead.  You can’t undo it because you’d already be dead. You’d already be dead! Now what? It sucks when life keeps giving you a hard time.  But you have to keep one thing in mind before you actually think about doing it once and for all. Hope. Hope that things might get better. Hope that if you decide not to kill yourself today that tomorrow and the days after that, you won’t have to think about killing yourself anymore.

So I said this is about how to kill yourself. Because I know that that’s all we think about sometimes. How do I do it? How will I do it when I finally decide to kill myself? This just made us realize what will happen when we decide to end it all. When we decide to give up, what happens next? But instead of thinking about how you can kill yourself, think about what you can do to stop thinking about ending your life. It’s your life anyway. If you don’t like what’s happening now, just change it. Do something different that will keep yourself alive. Don’t give up. Suicide is for quitters. Don’t be a quitter. Stay alive.  

So if you’re reading this today, don’t kill yourself today. If you think about it again tomorrow, read it again tomorrow. Just don’t, okay?

Here are the photos I promised! :)

I was going to write something but after the experience I just really have no words. Like I mentioned on my last post on the video clip, it’s just something you have to experience for yourself. 

But I am very thankful to getting to experience this sacred and spiritual tradition handed down to us from our ancestors. There are really no words to describe this experience and I give my humble thanks to Lane, our ancestors, and the diwata.

Here is a video clip someone took of my tattoo session during Lane Wilcken’s Pilipinx tattoo workshop this past Saturday. The session lasted about 1 1/5 to almost 2 hours and yes getting handtapped hurts much less than the machine. There were a few times where I had to close my eyes and breathe but most of the time it was rather painless to the point I was falling asleep.

The sound of the handtapping in the video does not do it justice. The echoes in the room were very weird and eerie as it was quiet and it was night so there was no city noise outside. Everyone could hear it, like there was the echo and then there was another echo in the room that was just, weird that I can’t even describe. Someone, I forget who said that it was alien like lol. But ya the echoes and just the sound of the handtapping was enough to put you into a trance like state.

The experience was very enlightening and spiritual and I could feel the spirits and ancestors around us and Lane and Kristen’s (the girl who volunteered to stretch and experienced how to do it for the first time) spirit as they worked on me. There are really no words to describe this experience and it is definitely something one should experience for themselves to understand. It is not just a work of art, it’s not something we choose, it’s something spiritual, cultural, and sacred and the entire process from the ritual and offerings to the ancestors to the tattoo session to burning, burying, or throwing the offerings from the ritual and your blood that was spilled out to sea is a part of that and I am grateful to have experienced it.

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A mulher de 100 anos que virou lenda por dedicar toda a vida à tatuagem tradicional de sua tribo

Para as mulheres da tribo filipina Kalinga, tatuagens são símbolos de força e beleza, além de marcarem a passagem do tempo – alguns desenhos só podem ser feitos após atingir certa idade. Aos 100 anos de idade, Whang Od é a última mambabatok da tribo, ou seja, responsável por tatuar as companheiras.