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10 Pinays Share The ~Meaning~ Behind Their Tattoos

Behind every ink is a story.
PHOTO: Mixi Ignacio

With all the tattoo content we produce, it's safe to say that at Cosmo HQ, we LOVE tattoos. We love how they look, whether they're big or small, and how there's a fun story behind each piece of ink. Since we're the biggest chismosas everand okay, fine, we're really "curious"we decided to ask 10 Pinays the meaning behind each and every one of their tatts!

  1. Ayn Bernos

    Instagram: @aynbernos

    Courtesy of Ayn Bernos
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    Number of tattoos: Two. A watercolor sun tattoo on my collarbone (2016) and a pizza slice on my rib (2017).

    Cost of each one: The sun cost P4,500 and the pizza cost P2,500.

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    Where did you get your tattoos done? My sun tatt is by Wiji Lacsamana, while the pizza is from the P&P shop in Poblacion.

    What's the story behind your ink? I got the sun tattoo after my three-year relationship just ended. My ex had told me several times how tattoos aren't attractive. And since I've always held back on getting one because of him, I took our breakup as a sign to go for what I wanted—finally.

    My YouTube channel is called Sun-kissed Somewhere, an ode to being a brown girl traveling around the world. The sun is special to me because I've always been told to avoid it because I'd get darker skin, blah blah blah. So in many ways, getting my first tattoo was a rebellious act. A rebellion that made me put myself first after spending so much time conforming to others' standards. It was awesome. Wiji Lacsamana is very accommodating and friendly, and I'm glad she did my first tattoo. I told her about my recent breakup, too, while she was working on it. It didn't hurt as much as I thought it would. Frankly, I feel like derma sessions are much more painful.

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    The pizza tattoo was the complete opposite, though. I didn't think about that one at all. I was out with my girlfriends one night in Poblacion, and we all spontaneously wanted to get matching tattoos. We were supposed to get rose designs, but as I sat on the tattooing chair, I had a change of heart and decided I wanted pizza instead! The second time I was a liiiittle tipsya big no no when getting a tattoobut it wasn't a bad experience. The pizza one was actually faster and simpler, so it felt like a breeze.

    Do you plan on getting more tattoos? Yes, I want to have a wave-inspired tattoo to cover up my motorcycle scar from Siargao. It'll be a nice travel memento!

  2. Louise Ferrer

    Instagram: @loulouferrer

    Mixi Ignacio
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    Mixi Ignacio

    Number of tattoos: Three. I got my first tattoo in July 2015, my second in May 2016, and my third tatt in October 2018.

    Cost of each one: I spent $120 (around P6,000+) for my first tattoo. As for the second and third, they each cost P3,000. 

    Where did you get your tattoos done? I got my first tattoo while vacationing in the United States at this studio called "Patriots Tattoo." For my second and third tattoo, I got them done at 55tinta in Maginhawa, Quezon City.

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    What's the story behind your ink? The first time I ever heard "Sapere Aude" was actually during a History class back when I was in college. Our topic at the time was the Age of Enlightenment and my professor said that in Latin, Sapere Aude means "dare to know." In simpler terms, it basically means dare to be wise and don't be afraid. It's about having the courage to think for yourself, and using that knowledge for the better. (Whoa, deep right?!?! LOL) Right there and then, I felt like the words just ~resonated~ with me. I got the words tattooed because I think it kind of reflects who I am as a person. I’m always so curious about the world around me. Whether it's tasting a different cuisine, trying a new workout, or traveling to a place that's totally unfamiliar, I have this mindset where I'm pretty much "G for anything!" Life's too short for regrets, so might as well live it to the fullest.

    Prior to getting my first tattoo, I had mixed feelings. I was excited and nervous at the same time. Part of me felt glad that I was finally getting my much awaited ink, but a part of me also felt scared. I mean, it's a bunch of needles piercing your skin! It's a good thing I got a huge support system on the day of it. My two kuyas (who have gotten several tattoos already) went with me, and my sister-in-law was there, too. Like me, she was also going to get her first tattoo. It felt good knowing that I had a karamay

    In general, I can proudly say that getting a tattoo for the first time was a breeze! What I liked most about the experience was that the tattoo artist made sure to talk me through each step of the process. First, he showed me a printed copy of my tattoo design in different sizes. After I chose my preferred tattoo size, he placed a stencil of the design on my upper back and asked if the placement was okay. From there, he made sure that I was comfortable and began the session. I initially thought it was going to be super painful, but it wasn't bad at all. The pain was tolerable and to be honest, I think getting a Brazilian is worse, LOL!

    My second tattoo is "XXVIIX" which is October 16, 2009 in Roman numerals. This was a very personal and defining moment in my life. Only family members and close friends know about the meaning behind this tattoo. 

    The third is a sunset. Out of the tattoos I have, this one probably has the ~least~ meaning. I was set on getting an image for my third tattoo because the first and second ones were already text. I just really wanted something different, preferably a design that would symbolize my personality—warm, positive, and full of energy. I figured a sun would best represent that, so I looked at Pinterest for cute, minimalist sun tattoos. Plus, my go-to motto in life is all about finding the beauty in every day. So with a sunset tattoo, it just goes to show that even the simple act of ending a day can be beautiful.

    Unlike the first, getting my second tattoo was slightly more painful because the placement was on my wrist—an area that had more bone structure. The same goes for the third tattoo which was placed on my outer right ankle. But in my opinion, once you go through your first tattoo, the ones you'll get after that won't be that bad anymore. Based on experience, the rush that I got from getting my first tattoo had me wanting a second one immediately.

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    Do you plan on getting more tattoos? Yaaaas! I know for sure that I want a design that's related to my family. Right now I'm thinking of getting a flower tattoo to honor my parents. My mother's name is Lily so I was thinking of getting a lily (flower) with my Dad's name, Dante, written in cursive as the stem. 

  3. Andie Estella

    Instagram: @andie_estella

    Mixi Ignacio
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    Number of tattoos: Just one! I got my first tattoo, a dreamcatcher connected to a Greek word on my left rib, on May 5, 2015—I chose the date specifically because I liked the number pattern

    Cost of each one: It cost me $125 (including tip), so approximately P6,500.

    Where did you get your tattoos done? I attended college in the U.S., so I had mine done at Pens & Needles Custom Tattoo Company near my campus. 

    What's the story behind your ink? I studied Classics in college because I loved everything about ancient Greece and Rome. I chose to get the word φιλαπ?δημος, an adjective meaning "fond of traveling" or "travel-loving"—I had all three of my Classics professors check to be sure, and one of them even wrote it down for me!

    Growing up, I loved the idea of dreamcatchers protecting you from nightmares, so I wanted one that would "protect" me from bad luck. The two feathers and strings symbolize my parents, and the 13 outer beads represent my lucky number. The 5 inner beads represent a lucky star.

    Since this was my first tattoo, I didn't have any prior experience so I was a bit nervous. To make sure your skin is smooth and clean, aka the perfect canvas for their art, the tattoo artist will first shave the part of your body that'll be getting tattooed, then apply a cleansing solution. They then sketch out your design on a stencil then place it against your body, repositioning it and making it smaller or bigger upon request.

    Tip: If you decide to get a tattoo on your rib cage, think about its position in relation to your bra! I only realized it after getting my tattoo that the bra band covers like 70 percent of my design. I had to wear a sticky bra for two weeks while the tattoo healed because the bra would have rubbed against the wound!

    The loud buzzing sound was pretty scary at first, but Austin, my tattoo artist, was very chatty and it helped distract me from the needlework. Since I was getting tattooed on a pretty bony area with thin skin, I did bleed a little, but definitely not as much as I expected (definitely not horror movie-levels, if that's what you think!). 

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    Do you plan on getting more tattoos? I do want to get another one! Maybe something delicate behind my ear on or a quote my right rib? No definite plans yet.

  4. Karla Trillanes

    Instagram: @karlatrillanes

    Courtesy of Karla Trillanes

    Number of tattoos: I have two! The one on my left wrist is a matching tattoo with my best friend, Alessia. We have congruent symbols with half moons under the signs. The second one on my right rib is an outline of a wave. I got both during one session in January 2019.

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    Cost of each one: Since I got them during a promo, my tattoos just cost me around P600 for both! Really affordable.

    Where did you get your tattoos done? My friend, who has several tattoos, asked us if we wanted to split costs with him because his friend, who is a tattoo artist, had a promo for the New Year. Our artist's name is Joseph Esguerra and we got our tatts done at his private shop at Los Baños, Laguna.

    What's the story behind your ink? Like I said earlier, my wrist tattoo is a matching tattoo with my best friend. In math, the congruence symbol (≅) tells us that two things are the "same but different." I believe this shows our bond, that through our similarities and our differences, we'll be there for each other. The crescent moons are an added touch because we both love moons! For me, this also means that we're always looking at the same moon, even if we're far apart. Aside from the symbols, I think that these tattoos are also a way of me telling her that I will love her and I will be there for her for as long as these tattoos remain on our bodies—and even after.

    My other tattoo, the wave on my right rib, has two meanings. First, it symbolizes my love for the ocean. Second, it reminds me that "when a wave comes, go deep." It's a quote I once read on a Humans of New York post and it has been one of my mantras ever since. I believe this is a metaphor for when you have to face life's adversities. The wave symbolizes these problems, you could either stand still and let them crush you or you could go deep and fight or conquer them.

    I was really nervous to get a tattoo at first because I used to be so scared of needles. I even brought a lollipop so I could bite down on something during the session.

    The artist did the one on my wrist first and it hurt so much. He had to really press down so the ink would remain on my skin because wrist tattoos fade easily. He also had to go back several times because the design had different lines. Plus, the wrist is quite bony.

    For my rib tattoo, it didn't hurt as much as the one on my wrist which was a surprise. Most articles I read prior to getting one said that rib tattoos hurt so much because it's near the bone. Maybe it just hurt a little less because he did my wrist first and the design was just one line so he didn't have to lift the needle as often as he did with my wrist ink.

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    Do you plan on getting more tattoos? If my mom's reading this, I have to say sorry because I'm planning to get several more because, well, tattoos are addicting! I want the word "heroine" on my inner arm, my mom's name, Joy, probably on my other arm. Plus, I want to commission my artist friends to draw designs for me as my way of appreciating and promoting their work.

  5. Tasha Faustino

    Instagram: @natasha_f

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    Number of tattoos: Just one. I got it on my 27th birthday (this year.)

    Cost of each one: I got it on promo so I only paid P1,500.

    Where did you get your tattoos done? Arte Tattoo. Charles is the best!

    What's the story behind your ink? I was thinking of getting a tattoo for the longest time but I wasn't sure of what design to have on me forever. One day, I just saw this sunflower tattoo on Instagram and it was just love at first sight. I had to have it. I wanted a sunflower because for me, it symbolizes bringing your own sunshine wherever you go. It's a positive, happy image, and I love flowers. Sunflowers are also known to be resilient, which I think best describes me, plus they always brighten someone's day.

    During the session, I was initially afraid of the needles but after the first buzz, I found it addicting.

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    Do you plan on getting more tattoos? I'm def getting one more again! I want a daisy chain on my left ankle (but this time, in black ink only) and maybe a Capricorn symbol behind my left ear. 

  6. Tisha Caedo

    Instagram: @zebramyth

    Mixi Ignacio
    Courtesy of Tisha Caedo
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    Number of tattoos: Three. A pair of heart-shaped paw prints behind my left ear; a song quote on my right rib; and a personalized constellation on my left ankle.

    Cost of each one: It ranged between P1,500 to P3,000.

    Where did you get your tattoos done? I got the first one at Immortal Tattoo (2017), the second one at 55Tinta (2018), and the third one was done by Skinworkz Tattoo at an event (2019).

    What's the story behind your ink? I've always wanted to get a tattoo because I like how they remind one of certain memories or people. I finally got the courage to actually get one a few days after my 23rd birthday. In the past, I always had various ideas about what tattoos I imagined having. But a few weeks before getting my first ink, I realized that what I really wanted was a pair of paw prints because I love dogs and will always love them. I wanted something that I could dedicate to all my furry friends, past, present, and future. 

    I got a song lyric from the animated film Coco as my second tattoo because whenever I read it, it just gives me good vibes. Plus, I really love the movie. I was actually debating between this and a Scorpio constellation (my zodiac sign). The lyric—which says, "what color is the sky"—won because it meant more to me than a group of stars connected together. I had this put on my rib, which felt like a MOTHA getting done but I have no regrets. 

    As for my third one, I finally went for a constellation tattoo! Instead of just having a typical Scorpio constellation, though, I asked the artist to make the stars 11 to symbolize the team that I have been with for more than two years: Cosmo. The stars are also in purple ink, which is my favorite color.

    Do you plan on getting more tattoos? Right now, nope! I'm pretty happy with what I have. By next year I might feel differently about it, though. I never really plan my tattoos months or years in advance because I know I'll change my mind by the time I'm about to get it done. So who knows! The future is full of possibilities.  

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  7. Mixi Ignacio

    Instagram: @mixign

    Mixi Ignacio

    Number of tattoos: Two! The first one is a line art of a dog inspired by Keith Haring's art on my upper left arm. My second tattoo is a gradient line art of a lightning bolt that's placed on the outside of my wrist. I had them both done in 2018.

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    Cost of each one: Minimalist tattoos like mine are actually fairly priced! The first one, an all-black line art, was P1,500. The second one is a watercolor gradient that used three hues. I haggled and was able to get the price down to just P1,500, too. 

    Where did you get your tattoos done? Whiplash Tattoo. They're really cool and ~I think~ the best in the South!

    What's the story behind your ink? My first tattoo symbolizes my pupper who joined my family a year ago. She is the first dog that I really got to witness grow up and take care of since she was a bb, so I treat her like my own child. So, tattoo level na! LOL!

    When I got my first ink, I was actually really scared. As a kid, I was intimidated by traditional tattoos I always saw that I imagined the process of getting it would be really painful and involved a lot of blood. I didn't realize how modern the equipment is now, so the tattooing process just felt like someone was drawing deeply with a pen on my skin. No pain, blood, or anything! My tattoo artist said it didn't hurt much because it was in the area that's not boney.

    My second tattoo is purely for vanity. I just really wanted something cool to put on my wrist so I got a multicolored lightning bolt. The process of getting this was really painful. Since the area was boney, I had to ask my artist to pause a couple of times. Also, it bled a little bit so I was scared of possibly getting an infection or it not healing right. But it still ended up looking pretty good.

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    Do you plan on getting more tattoos? I plan to get one more this year. I want something abstract done in my lower arm area. No design in mind yet, though.

  8. Monina Eugenio

    Instagram: @thetropicalhiker

    Courtesy of Monina Eugenio

    Number of tattoos: One, a lotus flower on my lower back. The colors, which were originally blue and purple, have already kinda of faded.

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    Cost of each one: Tattoos were a lot cheaper 15 years ago. I think I got mine for P3,000!

    Where did you get your tattoos done? The design was drawn by a friend who was a Fine Arts student and the ink was done by Alex Cabaluna.

    What's the story behind your ink? Lotus flowers signify rebirth. So, it's about becoming new again each time. Even if my tattoo is already 15 years old, the significance still rings true to this day and I have zero regrets getting it.

    I got my tatt when I was a freshman in college. My mom didn't want me to get a tattoo despite the fact that I've been bugging her since I was in high school that I already decided I wanted one. I still had one done behind her back and told her I was just "watching a movie." I enlisted the help of some of my friends to drive me to Alex's tattoo shop in Manila. I was kind of nervous and excited because this is for life. All in all, it took three hours to do. Since I opted for a colored tattoo, filling the spaces with color was probably the most excruciating part for me. It took two weeks to heal and after that, I busted out all of my baby tees and low-rise jeans (which were popular then) so I could show off my ink, haha!

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    Do you plan on getting more tattoos? Yes. It’s been 15 years since my first ink. I'm due to get another one done on my right wrist, with my dog as inspo. I also want a band tattoo on my left arm, but I still haven't thought of a design peg yet.

  9. Chab Ocampo

    Instagram: @chabelibutton

    Courtesy of Chab Ocampo
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    Number of tattoos: Two. I got a detailed lotus flower in May 2015 on my sternum (the area between the breasts). I had my second tattoo, an American traditional-style profile of a girl surrounded by flowers, done in April 2016 (this was a birthday gift from my parents).

    Cost of each one: The first one cost P4,500 and the second one was P6,000 (plus tip). 

    Where did you get your tattoos done? I had my lotus tattoo done at Epic Tattoo, while the American style one was from Whiplash Tattoo.

    What's the story behind your ink? Honestly, my tattoos don't really have a meaning. I just like how they look! I decided on a lotus (not pictured) because it's something I would always doodle on my notebooks back in college. It was only after I got the tattoo that I decided to research the meaning of a lotus flower. Essentially, it's supposed to symbolize growth even when surrounded by strife because a lotus blooms in muddy waters. Sometimes it resonates with me and sometimes it doesn't—all the same, I just love how the tattoo looks.

    Meanwhile, I decided on the profile of the girl because I wanted an American traditional tattoo. I love the flowers around it, so I think I want my future tattoos to incorporate flower designs in them, too. I had to beg my parents to let me get a tattoo for the longest time, so when they finally relented, I had completely forgotten that getting a tattoo is a painful experience up until I got to the tattoo parlor.

    I got my first tattoo on my sternum—one of the more painful parts of your body to get inked. It was kind of awkward because I had to lift my boobs with one hand and hold my friend's hand for comfort with my other hand LOL. My second tattoo was done on my rib, so it wasn't that awkward but I still held my friend's hand during the process. The pain for both was the same. It felt like I was getting sliced! I was sweating and I just wanted it to be over. Both tattoos took up to an hour and 30 minutes.

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    Do you plan on getting more tattoos? I want to, but I have no idea what design to get yet. I think if I do end up getting another one, I would just browse through the designs the artist already has in his or her shop. But there will definitely be flowers, if ever!

  10. Junnel Nacional

    Instagram: @yeyitsjunnel

    Courtesy of Junnel Nacional
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    Number of tattoos: Just one, a sleeping angel. I got it done in 2012.

    Cost of tattoo: P2,500

    Where did you get your tattoos done? Katz Lorenzana did it at Katz Tat shop.

    What's the story behind your ink? I was in the process of moving on from a relationship and I wanted to get a tattoo that would always remind me of who I am—a child of God. It was a beautiful time in my life where I got to know Him better and find my self-worth. Getting my sleeping angel tatt didn't hurt at all! I actually felt very excited and happy during the session. 

    Do you plan on getting more tattoos? Sometimes I want to have another one, maybe a bunny or a small elephant. But the thought of having just one on your body, for me, is already perfect.

*Answers have been edited for clarity.

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