Mga Inukit na Ul-ul-lit: Tattooed Stories

Fabros, I. J. F. L.(2015) Mga Inukit na Ul-ul-lit, Unpublished Undergraduate Thesis, University of the Philippines, College of Mass Communication.

Recently, there has been an influx of tourists in a village high up in the mountains of Kalinga to get a mark of what people call the dying practice of batek, the traditional hand-tap tattoo method rooted in Cordillera. Mga Inukit na Ul-ul-lit is a documentary about the spotlight on Buscalan Village brought about by the romanticization of the ethnic practice and the creation of the concept of “the Last Mambabatok” (Last Traditional Tattooist). The film is shot from the perspective of Filipino city-dwellers, the perspective where most of the romanticizing comes from, who have trekked the village to try to ask for a tattoo. The visual narrative is a journey leading up to the tattooing process itself, with each step of the way revealing and debunking oppressive expectations that a Filipino visitor might have before getting there. The film explores the personal and collective motivations for the romanticization of this specific cultural material as well as the effect of this perspective on the perceiver and the perceived. Edward Said’s Orientalism helps in guiding this analysis of the interaction between the very west-oriented city dwellers and the “traditional”, “oriental” hilltribe.

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