Prison Ink

Tattoo or “Patik” as Cebuanos would call it, has long been a bad stigma in the society. 

But behind the this perception is a story worth telling .


Inmates say that pain is the best way to get their thinking back to normal. And that this art is more

than just an expression to them, its a get away from bad thought, a sign of gratitude and expression of emotion. 

An inmate shows his home made tattoo machine, made from a toy vehicle’s engine, guitar stings and ink from pens.

“BABAY SA DUGHAN”

12 years in prison because of double murder Joy has the lady on his chest or “Babay sa Dughan” as his most special tattoo on his body. When he was sent to jail, his wife found another man and left him, this broke his heart and made him decide to have a tattoo, he claims that this woman tattooed on his chest would never leave him even how bad he and the situation is and even until the day he dies it will remain with him. When asked if the lady on his chest is someone real, he states that when he is out of the prison he is going to find the woman on his chest.

“JAY SANTO TANAS”

In jail for 7 years for car napping, Audrey had herself tattooed a flower together with an image of a Demon on his hand, it was her first time she broke her heart,she got cheated and left by his boyfriend named Jay.
The demon represents how evil Jay was to him and the flower shows the beauty of their relationship and her despair to what happened

“JESUS CHRIST”

Imprisoned for 10 years because of Rape and Child Abuse, Arthur had himself tattooed an image of Jesus Christ.
It was only his faith in God that helped him go through those tough times and the only person he can run to and tell his problems.

“KAMATAYAN”

Serving 13 years in jail for involvement in drugs, Jovic had the grim reaper or “kamatayan” inked in his arms shortly after he arrived in jail. The pain he suffered as this tattoo was done made him forget the personal problems he have during that time. He states that all of us has our time in this world and we will never know when this guy in my arm would take us.

“BATANG CEBU 45”

Ameliano an inmate who is in jail for the longest time around 22 years, in prison for massacre of a family has their gang symbol as his special tattoo. With him assigned as a head of the peace keeping, the tattoo showed his commitment to the gangs vision of peace inside the jail. It gave hime the sense of purpose,and the strength and security to endure 22 years in prison.

“DRAGON”

In jail for 10 years because of murder, Jose has been fascinated by dragons ever since he was a kid. Its beauty and form got his attention and its power imprinted in his mind until now.

“AMIGO”

Staying for 12 years inside the jail because of murder, Winnie was able to spend some time with people he consider as his “amigo” or close friends and sponsors. To show his gratitude to them he got a tattoo of their names.

“THE ROSE OF EVELITS”

9 years in jail, because of drugs. Juana had the name of Evelits as her special tattoo, Evelits is her cellmate and is one of the highest member of a group in the jail. Inked in her body it would represent her agreement with the rules and vision of the group and her gratitude for what Evelits has done to her inside the jail.

“MARCO TORAL”

13 years in jail for drug involvement, Michael made a tattoo of the jail consultant Mr Marco Toral. The ink in his head is special because it turned things around not just for him but also the other inmates inside the jail. Michael states that this permanent tattoo shows that he is forever grateful to the privileges and programs by Marco and it helped the inmates and their family. Its a permanent sign of gratitude and acceptance of the rules that was made by Marco Toral.

“BUWAK SA BASO”

Samson imprisoned because of multiple murder and has been staying for 15 years in jail had the flower in his chest as the most special tattoo. Since he was young he’s been into flowers, arranging and taking care of them.

“MAMA MARY”

In jail for 11 years because of murder. The image of Mama Mary in his chest helped him a lot during those years and until now, he prays the holy rosary everyday and ask for forgiveness, strength and guidance to her.

“DANCE”

Staying for 8 years in jail because of drugs, Jofel chose a tattoo of an artistic portrait of his friend who was also an inmate before. He calls the portrait as dance. The friend who hes not willing to name helped him in his needs and supplies inside the jail. It was more than a sponsor to him it was his life saver inside the jail.

“HEART OF THE DRAGON”

Roland who has been staying in jail for 11 years because of murder chose the Dragon in his arm as his special tattoo. Stating that when he leaves prison this tattoo would show to the people that he went to prison and would represent his toughness and strength to face the difficulties inside the jail.

“ROSARY”

3 years in prison for drugs, Mj chose the rosary in her arm as the most special tattoo. Beside the love for Jesus, rosary has been her way to talk her problems and concern to God.

“PDIC GO”

Nestor charged with murder has been staying inside the jail for 12 years has the Pdic Go tattoo in his arm as his special tattoo. A sign of gratitude and idolatry to Pdic Go who was an inmate before and his best friend got him through tough times during his early life inside the jail.

“NINONG”

Mark James in prison for 10 years because of Drugs got the names of his “Ninong” or godfathers inside the jail that helped him. He was thankful for the supplies and protection inside that was given to him by his ninongs.