You know you can’t live forever so learn from the Romans

Thursday, 6 AM while we were having breakfast, I told my parents that I finally got a tattoo. Over the years, I’ve told them a lot of important things–including the fact the I’m gay–while having a meal and they never fail to give a winning reaction. So, going back to Thursday, here is our brief conversation:

Me: Nagpa-tattoo na ako! | (I finally got a tattoo!)

Mom: Kagabi lang yan? | (Just last night?)

Me: Oo. | (Yes) [Then I lifted my shirt and showed them the script.]

Mom: Anong ibig sabihin? | (What does it mean?)

Me: Roman phrase, remember you’ll die.

Mom: Ay! Anak ang bad mo! | (You are bad!)

Dad: Nako, eh di hindi ka pwede maligo ng ilang araw? | (Does that mean you can’t take a bath for days?)

Bro: Hindi ka na pwedeng mag-donate ng dugo! | (You can’t donate blood anymore!)

Look behind you! Remember that you are a man. Remember that you will die! Respice post te! Hominem te esse memento! Memento mori! The story goes that a Roman general, upon returning home victorious from battle asked his servant to stand behind him and give the gruesome reminder. Memento mori is also a Christian art movement: think skulls, angels, and other symbols or mortality—the return to dust. When I told my friend earlier about the plan to get inked, she thought I wanted a skull on my back. Haha!


But I like the Roman reference much better because it’s such a fantastic display of cognizance, from the world’s most disciplined force. They are death dealers (heck they even killed god by thrusting a spear on his side—this is the very reason why I decided to put the tattoo near the rib), but they knew they won’t live forever.  Awareness of death calls for a perfect balance between drive and caution. It will force you to achieve things. It will also keep you grounded.

Wednesday night, I met with Isa and went to 55 Tinta at Maginhawa, where she got her first tattoo. We are in agreement that it feels like your first trip to the OB/GYN. Haha! After several minutes and a lot of fidgeting, I felt the needle. It’s always good to be accompanied by a friend. Apart from moral support, you also get free documentation. She took this photo:


She also got her second tattoo! 7 2/6 is July 26, her mother’s birthday. It’s a very small artwork right at the back of the ear. Mama’s girl seems happy with it.


Isa’s artist is Katz Lorenzana. Small girl, big talent. And I think she’s actually a painter. Her career began several years ago in Boracay with the help of a friend and a wasted Korean who liked koi. But I won’t tell the details here. Best to hear the whole tale from her. Haha!


55 Tinta artists are really good. Inside the shop there are framed photographs of designs they’ve done in the past, among which, an indigenous man’s portrait in just black ink. Gave me the chills. You’ll see a lot more here:

Tattoo night was capped off with gossip and tapa at Rodic’s. Because we are smart and mature like that. Hahaha!


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