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Featured Image Credit: Media Drum World
A tattoo lover was forced to endure an exorcism because of her ‘daemonic style’ inkings that cover 60-70 percent of her body – including her eyeballs.
DeeDee Villegas, 30, got her first tattoo – a tribal design on her neck of no special significance – after succumbing to peer pressure.
But over time she found herself fully entrenched in the culture, after discovering the historical significance that tattoos have in the Philippines, where she is from, and worldwide.
Over the past 12 years, Villegas – who is non-binary but is comfortable with she/her pronouns – has spent more than 15,000 pesos (£20,000) on tattoos that cover almost her entire body apart from her stomach and legs. In total, she estimates they’ve taken in excess of 200 hours to complete.
Along with the tats, which Villegas considers as one continuing interconnected work of art, she also has 12 facial piercings.
She said that being a heavily modified, gay, non-binary person in the Philippines comes with undeniable challenges – having once been exorcised of the devil on public transport by a priest.
She also frequently has people quote Bible passages to her for their own ‘protection’.
Villegas, from Cebu, said: “When I felt extreme emotion or suffered from bouts of depression or anxiety tattoos became my coping mechanism.
“I got permanently invested in them when I did a course on art appreciation and learnt the rich historical significance of tattoos.
“However, being a heavily modified, gay, non-binary person in the Philippines comes with undeniable challenges.
“I have spent my adult life advocating against tattoo discrimination and things have slowly gotten better however, that is not always the case.
“On one memorable occasion, I had just boarded the public bus in the Philippines, when a priest on board saw me, raised his hands and started chanting.
“He was trying to exorcise the devil from me and as we were in a bus full of passengers it caused quite a scene.”
Villegas, who has an undergraduate degree from the University of San Carlos, thinks the Philippines has evolved in the way people accept heavily modified people and the LGBTQ community over the years.
She continued: “In the Philippines, it is a challenge still, I am to this day regularly verbally abused on the street.
“However, there is a change noticeable, there are careers that the heavily modified can apply for and thrive in.
“There was a time when you would not get a face-to-face interview with a visible tattoo and that has changed.
“There had been incidents where it was difficult to get government IDs or apply for the police force."
Villegas believes the internet and western influence has led to ‘increased acceptance’ of the modified community in her country, but admits she still gets her ‘fair share of hate’ on social media.
She added: “I would say 60 percent of the comments I receive are positive, however, I do have people quoting Bible verses at me.
“Or negative or nasty comments about me, my parents, siblings, friends etc.”
Topics: World News