Many of Rilao’s inhabitants treasure their district identity, and often proudly bear local tattoos as a symbol of their loyalty and commitment to their community. However, the youth of Laoguna are increasingly co-opting this long-held tradition. Young people throughout the district are sporting the traditional ink of their neighbors, as a symbol of colonial domination. “You have to earn the ink,” said a young man, who preferred not to be named. “Ink” battles range from bare-knuckle fisticuffs, to bribery with prized contraband. Red Highlands’ Secretary of Cultural Affairs calls the ink battles a “cultural assault on our heritage.” So far, Laoguna officials have refused to take the kerfuffle seriously.
Gabriel Brugni, Karl Baumann, Matt Yurdana, Tawny Schlieski