The Philippine Embassy organized a webinar on Philippine Tattooing Traditions on 07 June 2020, as part of its month-long El Mes Filipino program to celebrate 122 Years of Philippine Independence. The event’s speakers were known experts on Philippine tattooing traditions – namely, Mr. Lane Wilcken, a scholar, cultural tattoo practitioner and advocate for the critically endangered practice of “batok” or cultural tattoos of the Philippines; Mr. Kristian Kabuay, a leading authority for the propagation and instruction of the pre-Philippine scripts; Mr. Piper Abas, a scholar and practitioner of ancestral skin markings for the past 2 years; and Mr. Ezekiel Oclaray, one of Manila’s most well-known tattoo artists specializing in baybayin.
The experts are well-known in the field for playing an important role in the conservation of the tattooing tradition, having done extensive research through years of immersion in indigenous tattooing communities while honing their tattooing craft.
The participants shared theirs views and experiences on Philippine tattoo practices and traditions, highlighting the importance of this indigenous craft to Filipino identity, its attraction to the Filipino diaspora community, treatment of cultural appropriation issues and respect for communities that continue to practice the tradition, among others.
The webinar also touched on the upcoming commemoration of the 500th anniversary of Spanish arrival in the Philippines, and sought to highlight precolonial traditions as part of enduring markers of Filipino culture and identity. As a cultural tradition, the Philippines’ ancient tattooing practice is remarkable for having existed long before Spanish arrival, while enduring the Philippines’ colonization experiences and surviving in the present day.
The event was co-hosted by Raisa Mabayo, from the Philippine Embassy in Madrid’s Cultural Unit, who welcomed viewers on behalf of Ambassador Philippe Lhuillier, and Prof. Ros Costelo, from the History Department of UP Diliman.
El Mes Filipino 2020 events such as this online conference have been receiving a significant number of views from the Embassy’s Facebook followers. In this time of social distancing, the Embassy found a way to reach its audience in its continuing effort to promote Philippine culture under the leadership of Ambassador Philippe Lhuillier.