Yeah, the colors looked pretty bright. I spent yesterday working out, lifting weights, checking myself out in the mirror as I curled some iron to manifest the base work for a frame that sold itself, yet needed something more…
A fountain bowl of ink spilled into art, leached to my gut and manifested as a butterfly.
I found myself in a Tattoo parlor in Olangapo City, Republic of the Philippines, less than a mile walk from the security gates that locked a lot of dusty souls outside of Fortress Subic Bay, an American naval base.
It is a long mile down MagSaySay Avenue to get there- a road that has infringed on souls and altered the chain of command in at least a few families.
The black and white mirror was transparent as I walked through it, from admiring another hardened sailor’s body Tat, to assuming a direction that delivered the same whisper to my body. A need for color. A saturation of something that would lend depth to sculpture. A statement. No clouds on this body, but a rendition of in-your-face-fact, that perfection was about to be measured beyond my eyes and to your camera.
So it went. The needle drives the ink. The pulse sucks it in like a brush, and it becomes a passage of will and time as you dominate your pain response like a dog on a leash.
Ultimately. as this island revisits mountains, blood must spill to transform skin to art. And what was not, becomes a beacon for interpretation and clearly- a rewrite for your own history.
A tattoo changes the will of the original artist.
You are now disassembled from the perfection of God’s intention, and the form delivered is embellished not with the frailty of briefness, but an assumption of bravado, and nevertheless a remake of the original suggestion of you.
On the brittle edge of the broken mirror, is the reflection of a sailor splayed to a table, that has no soda fountains, in an off set room on a side road, a slum that breeds forgiveness from his own small town origins, and stands firm in a city that finds it’s nature in military borne thunderstorms, on pay days and port arrivals from sea.
So a butterfly was born. Paru-Paro in the language of the Philippine Islands, implying the many intentions of butterflies in flight.
I was now mated to an image that does the same, as often as possible. That sort of nuance does not escape notice, and at 20, certainly raised the question of which direction at the fork of the road, you intended to travel.
Well thunderstorms and mountain sides make slippery slopes, but I had my sandals on, so I managed to slog through the rainy season.
A half a year of rain can change anybody. It depends on how it hits you. Attitudes are altered depending on a constant bath of unprotected sea side pelts, versus jungle droplets filtered by an amazing canopy of leaves. Basically comes down to the question of- do you like it slow or fast? Either way it’s constant.
It is in my opinion, the genesis for the Pilipino concept of Bahala na, a down stride to a fast pace, the concept of “what shall be shall be”, is the brush stroke needed here to survive the eternal wetness and dryness that distinguishes the only two seasons. It is this bath of yes and no, that no doubt contributes to the positive and negative integers of Yin and Yang. From nature to philosophy, an integration of soul and earth, and since the Tat is done I am hoping it leans more towards Bahala na than it does to Paru-Paro.
The fickle part of all of this is avoiding the green snakes, the occasional box jelly fish that wandered from Australian waters, and a lot of man eating shark species that seem to favor the area. I never get bored with trying to avoid unexpected death, so naturally the thought of predation or death by poison, does emerge from the subconscious- but is easily quelled with a few San Miguel beers.
So you die buzzed. Might as well not stop water skiing in the South China Sea, and just make sure you have a Negrito guide for trips into the jungle.
They are fierce warriors and have supreme confidence, Negritos. Feared by all, they are pygmies that live and hunt in the Subic Bay region.
Our marines used them to defend the perimeter of the base since we didn’t have shoot to kill orders. They however just head hunted and spiked warnings to base intruders.
A very skilled and significant deterrent, that loved Americans for the fact that we liberated the Philippines from the Japanese in WW II.
2 thoughts on “Revisiting a TAT…”
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karen in OR Says:
September 26th, 2009 at 8:49 AM
Just checked in for my morning dose of the Flats and found myself in a dripping hillside jungle, about to understand a new perspective about tattoes and other topics.
I’m new to your stuff and really enjoyed (was entranced maybe) by your blog. Thank you.