Up From the Underground: 4 Underrated Caviteño Tattoo Artists that Deserve More Recognition

Bustling cities, scenic beaches, old houses, and hidden talents — Cavite has it all.

From the vast cityscape of Metro Manila, Cavite is one of the closest getaways where you can still enjoy the sight of Capiz windows, baby buses, and carabao-pulled karitelas. It is a place where both local culture and urban flair combine – one that managed to steadily embrace progress without losing touch with its historical roots. In the same way, Cavitenos are a people of candour, perseverance, and humble resilience. They take pride in their ability to gain success while staying true to their origins — a reputation that rings true to the character of their emerging art scene.

Often raw, eccentric, and gritty — Cavite art appears to dwell more on expression than refinement. It is versatile and eclectic in nature, with artists taking inspiration from a plethora of emotions, influences, and life experiences in conceiving their pieces with unhinged creativity. The local scene thrives through the effort of underground communities, where wanderers, enthusiasts, and many underrated talents convene through artist villages and home-grown events.

Candour, perseverance, and resilience are traits that resonate well within the Caviteño way of life. And it is through the same traits that, in a culture that glorifies the mainstream, these acclaimed tattoo artists are thriving in obscurity.

Paying homage to the Cavite underground, tattoo masters Chitz Bernardino, Junel Bautista, Freden Potestas, and Serafin So share their best works and greatest influences, as well as their insights on art, life, and the primal world of tattoo culture.

Chitz Bernardino

Photo by Chitz Bernardino

A former skateborder, photographer, and musician — Chitz developed his artistry from what started as a hobby making henna tattoos. His love for the craft led him to officially pursue tattoo artistry as a career in 2016. His art style is heavily influenced by ­­­realists Jose Perez Jr., Steve Butcher, and Bob Tyrell. He also took inspiration from local co-artists Ronald Yet Yasis and Jason Jovellana.

Photo by Arvin Kadiboy

His signature works are of keenly detailed black-and-grays, as well as vivid colored pieces and photorealistic portraits. Despite having a distinct touch, he chooses not to let his works be defined by any particular style. As an artist, he says his job is to bring out the beauty and emotion of every piece, whether happy or sad or anything in between. He willingly bends to any of his client’s demands and adapts his style to whatever fits them best.

You can get in touch with Chitz via D&C Tattoo or e-mail him at christianmaykellbernardino@gmai.com for bookings and inquiries.

D&C Tattoo
FB: facebook.com/DC-Tattoo-680422995732641/
Address: Blk 77 Lot 13-B San Esteban 4115 Dasmariñas, Cavite, Philippines
Business Hours:  8:00am – 12:00am
Contact Number: 09567788751

Junel Bautista

Junel is a connoisseur of geometric and bio-organic designs. Conquering the scene since 2005, his self-made success led him to establish Kampo Tattoo, a now iconic tattoo shop in Imus, Cavite.

An abstractist and surrealist in his own right, he takes heavy inspiration from the likes of Guy Aitchison, Paul Booth, Dominic Holmes, H.R. Geiger, and renowned father of surrealism Salvador Dali. His works also pay homage to his master, Onat Buenaventura, who honed the growth and direction of his craft.

When asked what his most challenging piece was, he mentioned how he still finds great difficulty in doing geometric designs, and how tough it is to fully master intricate line works even though lining the most basic part of tattoo artistry.

            “Sa ngayon, pinaka-challenging talaga ang mga line works. Kailangan stable ang kamay — bawal lumalim bawal bumabaw, bawal bumagal bawal bumilis. Lines ang pinaka-basic part ng tattooing, pero siya ang pinakamahirap gawin.”

He also works with dark images and portraits, so if his style is what you have in mind, feel free to drop by Kampo for a session or two.

Kampo Tattoo Pilipinas
FB: facebook.com/kampotattoo
IG: @junelbautista
Address: Brgy. Anabu I-A, Emilio Aguinaldo Highway, City of Imus, Cavite, Philippines
 (Infront of Shakeys and Sun City Plaza)
Business Hours: Mon-Sat, 11:00am – 9:00pm
Contact Number: 09151869399

Freden Potestas

Photo by Freden Potestas

A former Kampo Tattoo apprentice, Freden made the life-changing decision to leave his day job and become a tattoo artist in 2010. Six years later, he set out on his own creative journey and established Malagihay Tattoo where he now works in his own terms, with a career he believes he’s truly meant for.

Following the footsteps of his mentor, Junel Bautista — Freden’s early works consisted of bio-organic designs, which he explains are designs patterned from dead trees, sea corals and other unique textures on earth. Through the years, he has developed a fascination for mythical and occult imagery, which became a common theme in the “fun pieces” he made for tattoo competitions. Influenced by the likes of Paul Booth, Ty McEwen, and Jeff Gogue — Freden’s art style has grown to become a skillful amalgamation of bio-organic, oriental, and otherworldly elements, taking the form of a large, full-blown opus or a smaller, intricately-detailed art piece.

If you’re up for a sinister challenge and a good dose of pain, just look for Freden at Malagihay Tattoo. You can contact them via the details below.

Malagihay Tattoo Studio
FB: https://www.facebook.com/malagihaytattoo
Address: 10th St., Salinas 1, Bacoor, Cavite, Philippines
Contact Number: 09365719241
Business e-mail: malagihaytattoo@gmail.com
Business Hours: Tue-Sun, 1:00pm-9:00pm (Mondays are for appointments only)

Serafin So

Photo by Serafin So

Mr. Serafin is an uprising tattoo artist. Having gained exposure through local contests and exhibits, he has made a presence early on in the industry due to his versatility and broad range of art styles. At age 23, he proves that even with a lack of years — passion, dedication, hard work, and confidence in your craft can still put you on par with the greats.

Photos by Fin’s Tattoo and Piercing

While being a jack-of-all-trades who sharply executes any client’s request, So has a natural affinity for black and gray designs. Though he learned mostly on his own and by watching YouTube tutorials, he counts local artist Draz Palaming as his greatest influence. He says he owes it to tattooing for honing his skills and confidence, as well as for providing a main source of income for his family.

            Serafin’s own shop will be opening soon, but in the meantime, you can contact him via Fin’s Tattoo & Piercing or e-mail him at soserafin25@gmail.com.

Fin’s Tattoo & Piercing
FB: facebook.com/FinsTattooPiercingShop/
Contact Number: 09161486057

2 thoughts on “Up From the Underground: 4 Underrated Caviteño Tattoo Artists that Deserve More Recognition”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s