Taylor's FSLM Journals
The Fading Batek: Problematizing The Decline Of Traditional Tattoos In The Philippine Cordillera Region

@ SEARCH Journal of Media and Communication Research

Online ISSN: 2672-7080

F.P.A. Demeterio III


This paper builds on the findings established by an earlier paper, entitled “The Traditional Tattoos of the Philippine Cordillera Region: a Study on their Differences in Appearances, Causes and Discursive Strengths,” written by the author together with his research team and was published in Volume 8, Number 2 of SEARCH Journal. The previous paper was a synchronic study of traditional tattooing among the eight ethnolinguistic groups of the said region to establish a baseline knowledge of such practice prior to the massive influx of modern and western influences mediated by the American occupation. However, this paper aims to: 1) show some diachronic accounts of the said traditional tattooing, 2) problematize the historical vanishing of the this cultural practice, and 3) lay down some proposals on how to preserve and resignify the same cultural practice. The eight ethnolinguistic groups of the Philippine Cordillera region covered by this paper are: the Ibaloys, Kankana-eys, Ifugaos, Bontoks, Southern Kalingas, Northern Kalingas, Itnegs and Isnegs. This paper is primarily a historical work that used archival and library materials, as well as key informant interviews for its data, and they are analyzed from the theoretical lens of Michel Foucault’s archeology and genealogy of knowledge and Roland Barthes’ semiology. The goal of this paper is to grasp the current status of traditional tattooing in the Philippine Cordillera region in order to have some foresight to, if not influence on, its future. This paper is the concluding part of a bigger project that was funded by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts of the Republic of the Philippines.

Keywords: Batek, Philippine Traditional Tattoo, Cordillera Region, Epochal Change, Signification and Resignification