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Tattoo for real

Tumbas Manipis
by John A. Bello

There is nothing earth-shaking about undergoing a tattoo art on any part of the human body but one Saturday of my life I just decided I must go for it, a knee-jerk decision that I have grown used to with over my 5th decades of stumbling over this uncertainty called life. So early in the morning, sometime around almost nine after doing my own version of brisk walking around Bel-Air subdivision from our house enroute to the so-called Eco Park of our barangay and coming back to the house I passed by our neighbor just outside their doorway engaged in early Videoke singing as is their habit. They were husband and wife tandem actually with some of their relatives, nephews and nieces taking their turn in leisurely singing, just for fun, just killing time. There was also a bottle of lambanog and a small shot glass on a small table before them as they sang so on a whim I ventured to come in. They welcomed me and offered me a seat at the table and I gamely opened the bottle and have a tentative taste of the favorite coconut vodka in Cocolandia. After about three shots of the fiery wine, while the singing went on with such songs as Sana’y Wala Nang Wakas, Bukas na lang Kita Mamahalin by Sharon Cuneta, Jessa Zaragoza and other oldies but goodies standard songs that go well with anything to engage on a little trip down memory lane especially since it’s lazy Saturday, the talk turned to having tattoo with the hubby and wifey tandem showing me their body arts on their arms, nape and even binti. I told them I am thinking of having a body tattoo too specifically about my pen name Tumbas Manipis. They immediately summoned their pamangkin, by the name of Charwin, a self-taught tattoo artist. I had thought of having it by tomorrow or Sunday but I was convinced to do it on that moment as they said it would not take long, only about a half hour and the lambanog would lessen whatever little pain there is in the process. Well, the continuous cascading mesmerising love songs from the videoke machine and the pouring of pure wine in shot glass and drinking it up nonchalantly decided for me to do it, sige na nga, while the going of the moment is great. So I made myself comfortable in my seat while Charwin went on to get ready his tools for doing the tattoo art work on my upper arm, near my right shoulder.

Earlier, I went to our house just a few feet away to get the two local newspapers I am writing for, Sentinel Times and Quezon Chronos, just to show them my kolum Tumbas Manipis so Charwin can have something to base his lettering design for my pen name. He disappeared for some few minutes and after a while he returned with several designs to choose on and I picked the first one but suggested to make the letters of the word Tumbas the same with Manipis. He made the correction and with his tattoo art tools properly placed on the chair beside him and behind me, he proceeded to work on my upper biceps, dipping the newly opened needle on the black and blue ink and making the lettering with it on my flesh. I felt a little numbness with my continuous drinking of the coco vodka but still I felt the staccato of incessant pain with my wounded flesh. When at last it was done, whew, what a relief. At last, I made it, a real Tumbas Manipis tattoo engraved in my flesh, a forever part of me, hopefully, this name which started over a decade and a half ago when I was beginning my writing trade as a journo. There it was and so it goes.