Does it hurt? It is just like any other tattoo, it does hurt. However, most say that the hand-tapping method is soothing and less painful than getting a tattoo from a machine. Everyone is different, as well as having different levels of pain tolerance.
I’ve heard that a batok session can last all day. Why is that? A ceremony can last a long period of time because we do not go straight into tattooing when you arrive. We need to get to know you, your intentions and have a conversation about why getting ancestral skin markings are important to you. We only start charging when Manong Lane starts drawing on you and when you are being tattooed. If you have time constraints, please let us know; we will try our best to keep within those boundaries.
What is the significance of feeding everyone who participates in the batok ceremony? In ancient times, the village and ceremony recipients would provide a feast for the Mambabatok. Getting skin markings was considered a very momentous time in their lives. We try to keep in touch with our ancestral ways by having ceremony receivers feed Manong Lane and the other participants of the ceremony.
For my food offering, does it have to be Filipino food? Can it be any other type of food? Your food offering is a personal choice. Ask yourself the following questions: What would my ancestors want to eat? Does my Lolo/Lola have a favorite food? For Visayans, the food offerings come unseasoned or unsalted, because the salt wards away spirits. We want to welcome your ancestors, not ward them away.
Am I required to bring anyone to my ceremony with me? Whom can I bring with me? You are not required to bring anyone with you, but we do encourage having someone to help provide support during your ceremony. It can be your partner, family, or friends. Please note that one of your companions may be put to work as a stretcher. It is common to have 2-3 stretchers per ceremony and there is usually at least one experienced stretcher present.
Am I allowed to videotape/ document during the process? Yes! We just ask that you DON’T document Manong Lane’s opening prayers, as these are prayers handed down to him from his family. They are sacred.
My family is far away but would like to be a part of the ceremony. Can I have them on over Facetime/ Zoom/ Google hangouts while being tattooed? Yes, absolutely! Can children participate as stretchers during the ceremony? It depends. We encourage having family present during the ceremony, including children. We feel that it is a good opportunity for them to witness a cultural practice in action. As for children participating as stretchers, it depends on their age.