Issue of September 8, 2019
Mt. Province
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Bernie – the tattoo artist

Stella Maria L. de Guia
Born in Abra but raised in Olongapo and now residing in Baguio, this body art expert named Bernie Aquino is a sought-after tattoo artist. He was exposed to the art of tattooing since he was 11 years old by his brother-in-law, Noel Jangayo. He began practicing his art at the age of 17 in Olongapo. In 1995, he started his art of tattooing in Baguio

His shop called Tigerber Tattoo Baguio, located at the ground floor of La Azotea Building at Session Road is adjacent to Lakay’s Barber Shop. Going down the stairs to his shop, one will find countless photographs of his local and foreign clients, up to his workroom, a testimony to the numerous personalities who have availed of his body art or tattooing. His shop is open from Monday to Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Samples of Bernie’s tattooing works at the back and arms.

Bernie says, “Masaya and trabahong ito. Marami kang nakikilala at nagiging kaibigan. Madaming galing sa ibang bansa ang hindi nakakalimot. Kung minsan sa kanilang pagbalik mayroon pa silang dalang mga pasalubong.”

The tattoo artist is also a painter and plays basketball. He joined exhibits and his medium is acrylic. Bernie is proud that son Jay is following in his footsteps as a tattoo artist and daughter Eunice is a graduate of Accountancy at the University of the Cordilleras. He has one apo.

Bernie uses a tattoo machine as differentiated from the legendary Whang-od “often described as the oldest traditional Kalinga mambabatokfrom Buscalan, Tinglayan, Kalinga and is part of the Butbut people of the larger Kalinga ethnic group.”

Research indicates that people “marked their bodies with tattoos for thousands of years for several reasons, medical or therapeutic, status symbol, amulet, declaration of love, sign of religious belief,sign of nobility, adornment or forms of punishment, functional or as form of cosmetology.” Nowadays, eyebrow and lip tattooing is becoming a trend.

Bernie Aquino in his abode at La Azotea.

The famous “iceman”, a 5,200-year-old frozen mummy to today’s Maori are proofs that tattoo existed for thousands of years according to Cate Lineberry. Another case is the discovery “in 1948, of a 2,400-year-old body of a Scythian male who was preserved in ice covered with ornate tattoos of mythical animals.”

Tattooing is a “form of body modification. Where the design is made by inserting a needle with dye, ink or pigment either permanently or temporarily into the dermis layer of the skin.” There are different ways of doing it. With the use of a cutting design or scarification, hand tapping with sharpened sticks or thorns or a tattoo machine. Because tattooing involves breaking the skin, there are also do’s and don’ts to follow before and after the process. like cleaning, moisturizing, no scratching and no drinking. Best to ask the tattoo artists or your dermatologist if you have allergy problems.

There are about 50 or more tattoo designs. One can name a few which had become popular: traditional (bold bright colors with iconic designs), realism (black and gray), watercolor (new millennial trend), tribal (indigenous – oldest in the world with elaborate patterns), new school, Japanese (from the Edo period), blackwork, illustrative (versatile) and chicano, script and text, Asean, Henna, etc.

Nuong tinanong ko si Bernie kung anu ano ang mas madalas ipagawa sa kanyang mga customer niya at saang parte ng katawan, ang sagot nya, “kadalasan sa braso, sa likod, at sa binti. Pag pumupunta sila dito madalas ay meron na silang dalang personal na design na gusto nila. Dinadagdagan ko na lang pag sa tingin ko ay kulang.”

Samples of his works, his “one-time use needles” and his tattooing equipment and inks.

Bernie says it takes about one to five hours to finish a tattoo art, it all depends on how small, simple or big or complicated the design is. He uses special ink and one time use needles. He also mentions that there are other tattoo artists in Baguio, who also excel in their own rights.

99ers at Garden Peak Bistro

Nonnette C. Bennett
Session Road is not just what you see, it is a space to explore if one is a foodie. Who would ever know that 50 steps above Session Road, a quaint little eating place on the rooftop of one of the buildings is a good place to spend P99 for a meal. The meal made from a special recipe of a Bicolano chef, Erick Estrada.

Catering to students or people on a budget, Erick offers a choice of baked liempo, chicken adobo sa gata, chicken curry, pork sisig, and callos as the main meal with rice, soup and a glass of iced tea. The servings are fairly sized for the price.

Garden Peak Bistro at the top of the building at 37 Session Road.

The Bicol influence in his meals is the use of coconut milk in many of his recipes. The chicken adobo sa gata has a delightful creamy appeal from the thickened coconut milk almost like gravy. The salty creamy flavor is an added perk to the ordinary adobo dominated by the soy sauce and vinegar. Accompanied by sayote chunks as a neutralizing bite, it is a balanced meal with vegetables, protein and carbohydrates.

Erick Estrada explains the kare-kare.

The kare-kare is faithful to the traditional style of cooking. Erick says that the poor people invented this Pinoy meal from the discarded parts of the cow, the tail. He said that it has to be cooked with the tail and not any other part of the cow to make it genuine. The peanut is roasted and blended with a little flour to make the delicious sauce that is mixed into the broth of the tenderized tail. He says it must be done from scratch to give kare-kare the real peanut taste in the sauce. The vegetables are not cooked in the sauce but instead boiled and wrapped in a crepe for the added appeal to the dish. He says the shrimp paste is also prepared in his kitchen by washing out some of the food coloring and salt added to it. This shrimp paste has no equivalent in any other restaurant. Indeed, those who enjoy this Pinoy fare must try this kare-kare.

Leche flantastic.

The leche flantastic is the real thing, if one knows the texture of the best leche flan. Smooth and rich, this flan is prepared by Erick with egg whites, fresh milk and condensed milk and steamed overnight on low fire. He says this can’t be rushed or cooked in high heat otherwise the texture is totally different.

99er chicken adobo sa gata.

A medical technologist by profession, Erick’s passion is for cooking. He is the chef of his Peak Garden Bistro that doesn’t use extenders in the preparation of the meals. He says his mission is to give his customers a taste of authentic Pinoy dishes using the traditional way of cooking it.

Catering for an exhibit.

The 99ers are a taste of five traditional dishes but there are more to taste and savor in Peak Garden Bistro. It just takes 50 steps to whet up your appetite from the sidewalk of Session Road that opens up to a garden of flower murals and plants. It is located above Recess Restaurant.

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