Archeological excavations show that tattooing is a tradition from The Philippines that is thousands of years old. Before the Spaniards re-named the archipelago The "Philippines," it was originally called "Las Islas De Los Pintados," meaning "The Islands of the Painted Ones." The hand-tapping method is unique to Pacific Islander Cultures. Batok is applies as a ritual practice with prayers and offerings involved. In indigenous tattooing, our ancestors created the designs choosing the meanings behind it. They decided the locations on the body, which are symbolic, and often correlated with Chinese medicine. This is a practice that has been developed and refined over thousands of years.
Mambabatok Lane Wilcken once said, "the greatest mistake that we make has been induced by colonization. This mustake is to think that our ancestors were stupid, that they were primitives and had no understanding of the world." A mambabatok is a ritual tattoo practitioner, not a tattoo artist. Today, there are less than 10 of them in the world.
Due to nearly 500 years of colonization, this practice has been largely exterminated in the Philippines.