A tattoo is a form of body modification where a design is made by inserting ink, dyes, and pigments into the skin to change the pigment. Some tribal cultures traditionally created tattoos by cutting designs into the skin. Then rub the resulting wound with ink, ashes or other agents.
Traditional Japanese tattoos are still “hand-poked,” that is, the ink is inserted beneath the skin using non-electrical, hand-made and hand held tools with needles of sharpened bamboo or steel. This method is known as Tebori.
In the Philippines, there is a tradition that has been practiced by women of Kalinga for many years. This is popularly known as “Batok” meaning the art of tattooing your body with tribal designs using bamboo stick and thorn.
As March enters, a hand-poke tattoo post had gained almost 12,000 shares on Facebook. People were amazed by the Baybayin designs and how fine the lines were in each tattoo.
Instagram: @maharlika.handpokeTraditional Handpoked/handpushed baybayin script tattoo. Mabuhay kayong lahat! ??Posted by Ezekiel Oclaray on Sunday, 3 March 2019
Many were intrigued and wanted to have a tattoo with this kind of technique. But the problem is there are only a few people who practice this kind of technique, and one of them is Ezekiel Oclaray.
Ezekiel, a 26 years old guy from the province of Alcala, Pangasinan is a low-key artist with great works. And if I may say, he’s a living proof that our passion is our strength.
His tattoo journey began in early 2017. He has the time, he has the skills but the problem is he doesn’t have enough cash to buy a tattoo machine. But it didn’t stop him from getting what he wants instead it leads him into a better opportunity.
He searched for techniques on how to ink with great quality but cheaper price. That’s the time when he saw the art of hand-poke tattoo. To his curiosity, he watched tutorial videos about the proper procedure for this kind of technique.
And with just Php1000 and a lot of guts, he bought equipment and started hand-poking himself. After feeling and knowing the right pressure, he then started to hand-poke his close friends.
In 2018, his tattoo career grew and his clients were very satisfied. But since art is just his part-time job, he still works every weekday just like the rest of us. And every weekend, he transforms into a tattoo artist. As of now, he is into Baybayin and Tribal design to flaunt our very own culture and also to give respect to all Filipino tribes.
If you think that his story is an overnight success, then you’re wrong. Challenges, self-doubt, and bashers are always there but that didn’t stop him from turning his dream into a reality.
Trivia, Ezekiel and I were in the same art organization way back in college. And it really makes my heart skips to see that we (somehow) reached our dreams.
And of course, I didn’t miss the chance to have my very own hand-poke tattoo by the one and only Ezekiel Oclaray lol. Here’s a photo of us (Chad, me, and Ezekiel), reunited after 5 years.
We’re actually not the academic-achiever-student type in our college years but our passion became the strength that led us on who we are today (hope we inspire you somehow).
Some of us might think that continuing our passion is impossible as we step into adulthood. But let me tell you this, the dreams that we have when we’re still in our teenage years are still possible to reach.
At some point, we need to think about ourselves, about our young selves who are full of dreams and eagerness. Is he/she happy about what you are now?
Don’t let society stop you from choosing your path. Work hard in silence and just let your success be your noise.
Follow Ezekiel and his hand-poke stories at maharlika.handpoke