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Inking stories of my ink.

A picture holds a thousand words, equally, ink can hold a thousand stories and meanings.
Tattoos are stories, icebreakers, and best of all, indelible galleries of art to carry with you through life. I enjoy building pieces to layer onto another, taking inspiration from artists, symbols, events, and philosophies. I’m grateful for the artists who brought my creative concepts to life, adding their own stylistic touches. My body is their canvas.


Jess Chen, whom I played Ultimate with in my early days at the University of Toronto, offered free tattoos during her tattoo apprenticeship at Tattoo People. I loved her intricate floral style and was inspired to get lilies for my last name, which is Spanish for lily.

I placed it on my lower ribs as a personal, private piece. I also love how Jess flowed these flowers along the curves of the ribs and hips.

I chose four flowers to represent the siblings I grew up with and me.

I asked for one flower to be budding to showcase life in a state of flux: flowering, blooming, and not quite there yet; always a work in progress.


Dinah, an old colleague from my time as a Starbucks barista, had become a tattoo artist called Kikimo and I fell in love with her style of fading shadows and coffee cherries.

I settled on a cyclical band depicting Mt Pulag, the tallest peak in Luzon, Philippines. My Dad and I went on a three-day adventure to climb it. We drove 10 hours to get to the town, hiked all day while the porters bustled to and fro with everyone else’s gear, and finally, we set up camp before our final sunrise hike at 4am. The last stretch to the summit was during twilight, with the most stunning blanket of constellations. We marvelled as the sun gently blew away the stars, behind a vista of mountain peak islands in a sea of clouds.

I placed the band high on my left arm so that sleeves would shield it from sun rays. I adore how the edges peek out under a short sleeve, just like the peaks peek through the clouds.


My little brother got his first tattoo the same day I got the mountain band. 6 months later, he had three tattoos and I said, no way, you can’t have more tattoos than me.

I settled on a blue jay, inspired by Kikimo’s stunning collection of ink birds. I love the blue jay’s emblematic head and its symbolism of my hometown. The bird in flight carrying coffee cherries is a nod to an olive branch offering and coffee cafe culture as a community space. The placement looks like the bird is taking off from my shoulder alongside three silhouettes in flight, visible behind the right kind of threads.

My blue jay is named after Amelia Earhart, a badass aviation pioneer, whose namesake reminds me to be bold and take risks. Be strong in the face of challenge.


This is the sunrise I watched with my Dad, overlaying the sea of clouds. Below are some sketches of the original concept; oh, how my jaw dropped when I first saw the artist’s draft. The use of negative space with the sun rays and stars is stunning, and I love how the ink sun has subtle similarities to the Philippine flag sun. The sun fades to stars and a waxing crescent moon, reminding me of loved ones watching over us and new growth. This tattoo also makes me think of impermanence; tomorrow is always a new day, and “this too shall pass”.


With the multilayered designs developing on my left side, I pondered an addition to my right side and first tattoo. Jess Chen started producing ceramics which brewed the idea of inking a kintsugi vase, plus two Stars of David flowers for my two new sisters.

A friend created this design from my rough sketches, which Kikimo riffed off of for a final draft.

I love how kintsugi is a beautiful art of healing through life’s challenges, perfection through imperfection. 

A picture holds a thousand words, equally, ink can hold a thousand stories and meanings.

My ink is many things: stories, memories, reminders, mottos, and art.

The sixth has been simmering for a while now, it’s now posted.

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