For the Love of Art: A Female Tattoo Artist in Tacloban

“Mas masakit ang umasa kaysa magpa-tattoo.”
(Hoping in vain is much more painful than getting a tattoo.)

– Julia Akia Abejuela, 2019

April 1, 2019 | 8:37 PM | Near Charismatic Playground, Sagkahan, Tacloban City

The air was cold that night but it wasn’t the only reason Julia was shivering. An undercurrent of excitement had lit up her skin; she was finally getting her first tattoo. She had wanted one for six years. She’d asked around and finally heard from a friend about this female tattoo artist who works from home–Miss Mae Portula, also best known as Mae Misay (Cat).

We were greeted by a cat (of course) and were welcomed by her artworks hanging on a wall.
The place was spacious, clean (I couldn’t help but notice the array of anti-bacterial stuff on her desk) and organized. I think she just debunked my idea of artists being all over the place.

Julia had been communicating with her prior to this appointment and had sent an original design a few days back. The prep work took less than thirty minutes and at around 09:08, the outline had been laid down on Julia’s skin.

“Ma’am, we’ll start now.” Miss Mae told her.

A pause.

Then, a buzz.

A pause again.

I was expecting a squeal or even a small gasp, but Julia didn’t make a sound.

Amo na adto, ma’am.” (That’s how it’s going to feel, ma’am.)

Julia blinked and voiced her skepticism.

Diri man ngay-an masakit.” she told me. (It doesn’t even hurt that much.)

“The pain’s nothing too unbearable.” Miss Mae’s boyfriend, Allen Cebuano (who was assisting her as well), told us.

Well, color me disappointed. I thought to myself as I put aside the video app on my phone. (Sorry, not sorry, Juls!)

I’m getting surgery-vibes.

While Miss Mae worked, we learned she had just been doing tattooes for a year and three months. She’s had a couple of clients who would travel to let her tattoo them and while she’s mostly home-based, you can also find her in Palongsink Tattoo Tacloban located at 31 Real Street, Downtown Area.

A year’s worth of tattoos

She also have clients who would come over to have piercings which are administered by her boyfriend. It turns out, tattoo artists can be a little squeamish about piercing people up. She’s also a painter and have had her works featured on art exhibits here in Tacloban.

Around forty minutes later, Julia looked to me and said it was starting to sting a little. Finally, around 10:00 PM, the tattoo was complete and Julia deemed it worth the pain.

| Arrowhead: God | Script “Life”: Excerpt from John 10:10 |
Feather: Bravery/Freedom | Birds: represents her Family |

An aftercare product and some instructions were given after the short photoshoot Miss Mae did for her facebook profile.

From Miss Mae’s page.

“Welcome to the club, ma’am.” they told Julia.

“I’ll be back.” Julia assured them, already planning where her next tattoo would be.

Now, if you ever find yourself in Tacloban and decide that you want a permanent souveneir, you might want to look up Mae Misay. Connect with her through Facebook: or through this number: 0935 594 1148.

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