My birthday is this Saturday. I haven’t been thinking about it too much or making any real plans to celebrate with friends, but instead, started to reflect on what point in life I was at a year ago. Through my first year of adulthood, I saw a significant amount of develop within myself as a person. I was able to leave a toxic relationship, start to really study and develop my dedication to organizing, and find my passions within the academic setting I’m in. I saw myself grow and change in ways I could never have imagined and opened myself to how huge the world is.
One of the first few things I did when I turned 18 was get my first tattoo. I was currently in the internship program that was offered through PACE (Pilipino American Colleagues Endeavor) and learning about early resistances in the Philippines. I learned about what “Makibaka” meant to our community and the history of resistance it held. Impulsively, three days after my birthday, I took the Muni into Haight and had it tattooed on me. On my left forearm, I got a dagger with a banner weaved around the front of it, with “Makibaka Huwag Matakot” written. The high of getting my first tattoo pulsed through my body and excitement rushed. My forearm throbbed slightly as the pain of the tattoo started to kick in. When I removed the bandages upon arriving home, I couldn’t stop looking at it.
Since then, I’ve continued to get more Pilipino tattoos on my left arm. The majority of my left arm is covered with huge pieces, all of which I hold very dearly to me. As I continue to get more, I’ve noticed my self confidence rise with it. Each piece has brought me closer to myself, as I start to reclaim the person I am through body art. I love my tattoos and what they represent for me: a physical representation of beautiful struggle.