First impressions last, they say. But when it is based solely on people’s looks, those with tattoos or piercings don’t always make a good one as they are, more often than not, negatively stereotyped as rebels or drug addicts. For some, it also hurts their chances of getting hired, since people with visible marks on their skin are frequently perceived as less credible than those without it. And while we all thought that tattoos are no longer taboo in this modern time and age, and that the world has become a much more accepting place, the sad truth is, tattoos (especially large ones) are still being associated to being up to no good, which is a clear indication of how prevalent discrimination can be, up to this day.
Speaking out against this negative stereotype is 28-year-old presidential son, Sebastian “Baste” Duterte. “Hindi ibig sabihin kapag may hikaw ka sa bibig at may tattoo ka sa katawan, addict ka na, rebellious na. No. It’s not always ganoon,” he said during the Fight Con event at the Amoranto Theatre on Saturday. He further points out that there are people who may not have any form of body art but are using illegal drugs. “Meron mga addict na walang tattoo, meron mga addict na walang hikaw”. Baste, for those who don’t know, has lots of tattoos on his body (one of which is that of a koi fish on his left leg, the matching tattoo he and siblings got after their father, President Rodrigo Duterte, won the elections), and sports a lip ring, but he, just like his father, also strongly advocates against illegal drug users and pushers, showing that whichever style people choose to present their self in, should never be the basis for the judgment of one’s character.
And just like Baste, despite all these misconceptions on tattoos and piercings, there are these wholesome and equally opinionated celebrities, who have also, time and time again, proved the negatrons wrong:
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It’s Showtime host Billy Crawford, is one. Though he has a liking for tattoos, Billy has never, in his entire career, been dragged in any issue of drug abuse. “I do not do drugs and I never will,” he said in a previous interview with ABS-CBN News.
Callalily lead singer and actor Kean Cipriano also got his body inked several times but keeps a firm stand against illegal drugs. In an interview with veteran journalist Ricky Lo for Philippine Star in 2011, Kean shares “There’s a misconception na kapag member ng banda, drug addict. Not true! I take drugs (prescription) only when I’m sick. People think that I’m an addict especially when I’m performing. They say, ‘Kapag nag-perform ‘yan, mukha s’yang baliw!’ What they don’t know is that sabog ako kapag sumampa na ako sa stage, sabog hindi sa drugs kundi sa music.” He adds, “Tattooing gives me a euphoric feeling.”
Jason Fernandez, former lead vocalist of Rivermaya and one of the lead stars of the local adaptation of Green Day’s American Idiot musical, is another personality who also proves that the unwarranted stereotypes on tattooed men as users of illegal substance are uncalled for. In fact, he is also totally against it. “Ang drugs hindi niyo iyan ikaka-cool, hindi niyo iyan ikaka-astig.”
While all these men have made their opinions on illegal drugs very clear, the perception of the world on people with tattoos still remain, and it has got to change. Because for a nation that often cries for democracy and equality, passing judgment on others based on their physical attributes, is totally unbecoming.
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Photographs from Baste Duterte's Facebook Page, Instagram.com/keanedward, Instagram.com/aimeegrey, Instagram.com/jasonfernandez, and Instagram.com/IndaySaraDuterte