Brotherhood and Body Art: Five Inkzomia Brothers

At Inkzomia, several brothers take turns working on your tattoo—one sketches the design, another does the lining, another puts in the color, etc. They work and live together in a paradisical island that has come to love their family and their art.

Words by Amanda Virrey

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Boracay Island holds an unmitigated promise of pleasure and prosperity for a chosen number of people willing to relinquish the familiar comforts of city life for the wondrous surprises of island life. Five of those chosen ones are brothers who have left Manila in order to secure their families with an exciting life and a flourishing tattoo business on the island known for its clear blue water, fine white sand, dramatic sunsets, and fun-loving people.

For Bayeta brothers Razel, Raymond, Richard, Daryl, and Rannel, artistry and an admirable character run naturally in the blood. Razel, the eldest, was already part of a group of mural artists in Metro Manila before he ventured into tattooing.

Younger brother Raymond recounts how his kuya (older brother) found tattooing as their source of income. “We were studying at the Far Eastern University in Manila at that time. I was taking up Nursing, while Razel was taking up Medical Technology. Razel used to go with his colleagues to public sites and paint the walls with his art. One of his colleagues then was a henna tattoo artist who gave him the idea of making a business out of it in order to support our sick mother.”

Razel taught Raymond the craft and recruited him into their newfound business. Together, they went on a personal quest in the complexities of body art and handy sums of cash in return. They started with a henna tattoo booth at the tiangge (open market) in the Riverbanks of Marikina City, Manila, and then pursued a campus tour during the annual fairs of Manila’s most notable schools. They also backpacked around Baguio, La Union, Pampanga, Iloilo, Cebu, and Kalibo, joining festivals and public gatherings with their henna tattoo kits.

Boracay was then just a summer destination for them, a place to be ventured upon during high season only. Yet for Raymond, Boracay lingered in his soul as the ultimate place to live in.

In 2004, the Bayeta brothers’ ultimate goal was achieved. They became full-fledged tattoo artists. “During our spare time, we would go online, getting tips and information on permanent tattooing. A veteran tattoo artist in Manila eventually gave us hands-on training in his shop where we were able to practice with basic designs and calligraphy on friends. We then explored the dynamics of tattoo art, starting from tribal designs to traditional Japanese tattoos. After mastering these, we moved on to the finer details of portraiture, as well as cosmetic tattoos, such as applying aesthetically enhancing color to lips, eyelids, and adding beauty marks,” says Raymond of their permanent tattoo groundbreaking.

In the same year, Daryl followed the artistic path of his older brothers. Daryl, a natural artist like his brothers, would draw anime characters on his notebooks during class in college. “He went on tour with us during his college breaks and learned the art easily from observation and practice,” narrates Raymond. It was only a matter of time until the younger Bayeta artist applied his genetic talent into profitable means.

While Razel maintained a shop in Baguio with Daryl, Raymond stayed at their stall in Manila with their youngest brother Rannel. Raymond inevitably passed on the skill and knowledge to Rannel, who was as keen as the rest of them.

A year later, Raymond and Richard left Manila for good to fulfill the dream of living in paradise. With Rannel, the three boys set up henna tattoo stalls in front of Mango Ray, Pat’s Creek Bar, and in D’Mall.

Competition is not lost among this band of brothers. Raymond narrates, “During the time that Razel and Daryl were in Baguio, the rest of us here were competing with them on who was achieving the most complex designs and the most number of works. It’s a healthy habit that we’ve maintained since childhood. It keeps us on our toes, plus it makes us realize the things we have yet to learn and improve on, like perfecting 3-D designs.”

At the onset of Korean mass tourism in Boracay, Raymond saw more prospective bodies to draw on. This prompted Razel and Daryl to pack up their things and leave Baguio to reunite with their brothers here.

For almost six years now, the full-forced Bayeta brothers have made Boracay Island their home. It’s here where the pivotal moments of their lives have transpired, from gaining success in tattooing to meeting the love of their lives and raising their children.

“We hold henna tattoo booths at La Fiesta in Station 1 and Pat’s Creek Bar in Station 2, plus Inkzomia, our tattoo shop. We’re happy with the outcome of our business here in Boracay. We love what we do and we love being together,” shares Raymond.

For five brothers fulfilling their life’s passions in Boracay, all corners are secured. The next best thing is still to come, and it’s expected to be fun, as always with family around.

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