[ Different types of Mamuli / ling ling-o ]
Left pictures of the Mamuli’s is the center of this subject. Other mamuli / ling ling-o’s, although they are fertility and verility symbols, they also have individual legends.
Like mother earth, when you plant aseed of life she will nourish the seed withfertile soil and gives that magic of sprouting life and growth, same goes forthe harvest of crops, crops provides food for the whole village society that is why the female is praised for such great traits of having the power to give birth. The rigged boat, sun and sailor motifs in this example are intended to represent the primordial journey of the founding ancestors who came from far away at a time when the space between earth and sky was narrow. The boat may also evoke the wealth and status generated for the aristocracy by inter-island trade in horses and slaves, which were exchanged for exotic goods.
Ling ling-o’s – fertility and verility symbols found in the Philippine Islands
CORDILLERA’S VANISHING ART OF TATTOOING
By Ikin Salvador (Inang-BLUE), tribe member
Dutch researcher and photographer Ron Schaasberg has been traveling in the Cordillera to document indigenous tattooing practices. His travels have brought him to tribal villages in Bontoc, Mt. Province and Ifugao. This story is an excerpt from one of his travels and interactions with tribal villagers of the Cordillera. Schaasberg lives in Tuguegarao City with his wife, who is a marine biologist with an international non-government organization.
After being stuck in between several landslides north of Bontoc and what seemed to be an endless trek through the Cordillera mountain range, Ron Schaasberg and his guide arrived in Buscalan, an isolated village at an altitude of approximately 2,000 meters. Schaasberg was informed about the mountain people and that some of them could be dangerous and aggressive toward strangers. “But this is contrary to what I experienced,” says Ron, a Dutch photographer interested in the art of tattooing. “They struck me as being friendly, peaceful, and helpful toward my research.” Being based in the Philippines for two years, Schaasberg found an opportunity to do research on the traditional way of tattooing and maybe even get a tattoo artist to perform this painful practice one more time.
Not an elder or warrior. In the early years, young men and women in the Cordillera were usually tattooed by an elder who occupied a high position in the community. The men who returned from war with their enemy’s head, however, were allowed to get their tattoos by a maingal (warrior). The women would mostly get their tattoos at a young age to make them more attractive, while the men saw tattoos as a mark of manhood.
In Bontoc, Mt. Province, Schaasberg found that tattooing was done by a professional artist. That person was not a village elder or warrior but a woman. Fang-od is a beautiful lady in her 70s. She is tattooed from her hands up all the way to her upper arms, around her neck and parts of her back and front. Until about 15 years ago, she was practicing tattooing, but because of her age and the younger generation that wants different styles of tattoos, she has hardly practiced this painful and traditional way of body decoration since. She explained that she learned the skill from a family member when she was 20.
This was how Schaasberg described Fang-od’s practice of tattooing: Fang-od prepares her equipment. She puts a pot on a fire, takes a sharp thorn from a shrub (tinik), a coconut shell with water, and then starts scratching the soot from the bottom of the pot and mixes it with crushed charcoal and a little water. The ink is ready. She has two sticks, one with the thorn and the other to be used to tap or hit the stick with the thorn. While tattooing, the thorn will puncture the skin and leave the ink under the skin. Fang-od uses pieces of long grass dipped in ink, and presses them firmly on the arm so she can follow the lines while tapping the thorn with ink. She starts putting on the horizontal patterns. Then she picks up her two sticks, one with the needle and the other to tap on the stick with the needle. The first punctures are made on the skin and the first line starts to appear. Fang-od slowly but very precisely keeps working away on the upper arm. She uses a few patterns and figures that can be found in almost all tattoos: grass (inal-alam), centipede (ginay-gayaman), stars (tinat-araw) and the ladder (tey-tey). Fang-od finishes the work in two hours. Some oil is put on the tattoo to protect it from dirt.
March 18, 2000 at the Philippine Daily Inquirer
Ladies of the tribe & their tribal tattoos
WAVE (Anak-BLUE) Patterns and Research provided by the Tribe. Designed by: AISEA with Filipino patterns. Tattooed by: AISEA, Primitive Black Tattoo – Oahu, Hawaii.
MARY ANNE TILA (MAE) – member of the Tribe, Washington Chapter. She is going to school for Nursing and is currently working as a Dietician. Research and Patterns provided by the Tribe. Designed and Tattooed by Yvette. (Zodiac symbol was originally there, we just complimented it with a shape of the tribal.)
MARIA – From Germany, she is the newest member of Tatak Ng Apat Na Alon Tribe, with the title of ANAK. She is in the military as a 92g ( food service specialist). Not finished, still in the process of getting sleeve. Designed by ELLE and tattooed by Tina at Triple T in Mannheim, Germany. Second Banner features the finished product of Maria’s sleeve. Tattooed by Dan DiMattia of Calypso Tattoo, Belgium. [Photo of Dan DiMattia of Calypso Tattoo tattooing Maria & Banner of Maria's Sleeve.]
O. Ayes – a candidate to join the tribe from St. Louis. She currently serves as Managing Editor of Natural Bridge (www.umsl.edu/~natural) at the University of Missouri – St. Louis where she will soon complete graduate studies in poetry and gender. Research and Patterns provided by the tribe. Designed and tattooed by the legendary Leo Zulueta.
JENNIFER GANATA – A candidate to join the tribe. She is currently a law student at CUNY School of Law at Queens College, New York. Her hope one day is to become a public interest lawyer. Ultimately she would love to be able to work for a Filipino community. In general she would like to be able to provide law services to under privileged communities, primarily in social justice issues, especially environmental justice. Designed by ELLE and tattooed by BIG ROCK.
JOANNE BELTRANO – a candidate to join the tribe. She is a law student from Michigan. She recently came down to California during the 4th of July weekend. Her tattoo is located on the left side of her hip. It is still a work in progress. Designed by: Elle and tattooed by Big Rock.
MAIA YOUNG – a candidate to join the tribe. She is an office administratorfor a staffing agency, who manages the payroll, accounting, workers’ comp, marketing, I.T. etc. for the office. She also going to school part time to become a CPA (Certified Public Accountant). Tattoo design provided by the tribe. Tattooed by Samoan Mike of Sacred Tattoo Center, Las Vegas. (click on second picture to view larger image of tattoo)
LIZ DELEON – from Kaneohe, Hawaii finally finished her arm piece and is fully representing. She works for a non profit organization that services at risk youth. I am an Employment Specialist for high school drop outs.Patterns provided by the tribe. Tattooed and designed by Aisea of Primitive Black.
EM BARAAN – She is still in the process of getting a sleeve. Designed by Elle and Tattooed by Big Rock.
CARISSA VERGARA – a candidate to join the tribe from Canada. She works as a Pediatric Occupational Therapist in Toronto, Canada. Research and Patterns provided by the tribe. Designed and tattooed by Yvette.
EILEEN TORRES (anak)- member of the tribe. She works in Real Estate and also is a lead singer of Children of the Sun. Come check them out: CHILDREN OF THE SUN. She recently got her first tattoo started. It is still in the process of finishing. Designed by Elle and tattooed by BIG ROCK.
MONICA CUYONG (anak)- member of the tribe. She dances traditional dance. She’s part of a Filipino dance troop in the Bay Area.
JESSICA DELA CRUZ (Anak)- a member of the tribe. She works for the government as an administrative assistant/ dispatcher. Finally added to her back tattoo, when Yvette last visited the Washington Chapter February 07. Extension of back tattoo to the left hip. Patterns provided by the Tribe. Designed and Tattoed by Yvette.
ALEJANDRA YEE – a candidate to join the tribe. She works for AT&T Mobility as a Receivables Management/ Credit & Activations Representative. Designed by ELLE & Tattoed by: YVETTE DETERA.
BREANNA – A candidate to join the tribe. She got tattooed to celebrate her ancestors and represent that she has a Filipino tattoo, her own roots. She also dances Tahitian hula and she wanted people to see and identify that she is Pinay. Designed by ELLE & Tattooed by: BIG ROCK
TINA ASTUDILLO-ASH (anak)- a member of the tribe. She works as an Executive Secretary for a well known engineering firm based in Orange County, CA. Research and Patterns provided by the tribe. Designed and Tattooed by Orly of Humble Beginnings, Glen Fontillas planned the rest of the arm, and Yvette finished it.
Painting a Piece of Culture and History
BODY tattooing, which has been popular among the Filipino youth in recent years, traces its roots to pre-Hispanic times. Historical accounts state that when the Spaniards reached the Visayan shores in the 17th century, they encountered heavily tattooed natives whom they called “Pintados” (“painted ones”). The Spanish explorers discovered that the Pintados had their own culture and that these “painted natives” were fond of holding all sorts of festivals — to celebrate victory in war, to honor their gods for an abundant harvest, as well as other occasions.
Just as the tattoos of today are mainly for aesthetic purposes, so too were the tattoos of the early Filipinos said to be mainly social in nature. In fact, tattoos during those times were seen not just as a mark of beauty but also, more important, of courage and strength. This was mainly because anyone who underwent the crude, painful and risky tattoo-making process would indeed be perceived as courageous and strong. Furthermore, one could not merely choose to have tattoos on his body; he had to earn them first after fearlessly fighting in wars. This is why the tattoos of the early Filipinos can be compared to the medals or badges of our generals today — both signify rank and courage. Thus, the braver the warrior, the more tattoos adorned his body.
The origin of the traditional practice is unclear. In fact, according to Father Cantius J. Kobak, a Franciscan missionary, “the origin of body tattooing among the Visayans is as difficult to determine as their descent.” However, some historians strongly contend that an ancient priestess initiated it and, with the help of her cult members, propagated the custom.
When the Spaniards came, the natives imbibed new ways of living and assimilated these with the neo-pagan customs of the Pintados. This resulted in the so-called “happy blend” of the old and new in the practices of the Leyteños. Thus, despite the surge of modernization, the Leyteños are able to preserve their cultural heritage. In fact, this is the very objective behind the celebration of the Pintados Festival. A relatively new celebration (it was conceived in 1987), the Pintados Festival commemorates significant events in the Visaya region their traditional dances, clothing, etc.
These dancers, whose bodies are indeed eye-catching in glittery colors such as neon green or luminous blue, cram the streets of Tacloban City and perform folk dance numbers that depict the various traditions that prevailed during pre-Hispanic times. Such traditions include deity worship, indigenous music and epics. Adding to the colorful frenzy are the rhythmic beatings of drums, bamboo sticks and other native instruments.
The spectators also await the traditional parade that begins at the Balayuan Towers and slinks through the busy streets of the city. Much like the golden goose in the fairy tale, the bedazzled crowd follows the colorful parade from start to finish. A traditional Filipino feast in which everyone can partake wraps up the street pageantry and contest.
Held every June 29, the Pintados Festival has attracted both local and international tourists and helped contribute to the city coffers. More than just a commercial endeavor, however, the Pintados Festival clearly gives spectators a taste of the past. It enables Filipinos to savor the beauty and cherish the value of their ancestors’ traditions. True, it gives tourists merely a piece of Filipino culture and history, but it is indeed a colorful, beautifully painted piece.