Nomadik Portraits: Neil, the wandering rasta boy


So, who did your tattoos? It must be very painful”, I asked him as I finish my morning coffee at the beach resto.

“I did it by myself. All of it,” he said in Cebuano in a Mindanaoan tone with an inexact facial expression. “I don’t mind the pain. Being left by the woman you love hurts more than doing these”.

Neil, the wandering Rasta Boy

Rasta boy Reyneil Moralde, his dreadlocks hair and his mobile tattoo/souvenir shop are a common sight in beaches in Samal Island (Island Garden City of Samal) in Davao del Norte. We met at Isla Reta Beach Resort, his current address at that time, while I was doing a photography assignment for a client.

Neil normally moves from beach to beach offering permanent and temporary tattoo jobs and selling souvenir crafts he made himself using materials from a free source – the beach. Every day is like summer to him  - sun, sand, seashells plus the Rastafari-colored stuff around his dome tent. 


Every morning he wanders around the beach collecting sea shells and interesting beach materials for his souvenir crafts. When out of the shores he's guiding tourists to Mt.Apo and nearby peaks. He always moves around, most of the time alone. 

He seemed comfortable and happy with this lifestyle when we talked. But the inked tears on his face seem to tell another story. He was left by a woman she loved. He  preferred to keep the details but when he spoke of the pain it was as if the tattooed tears were too few to represent the heartbreak.

"Any plans for the empty spaces on your body?"

"I'm going to have more inks with designs that represent my experiences in life. I'm going to do it on my own again," he finally smiled. Perhaps happy memories are on his mind for the next inking sessions. []



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For tattoo sessions with Neil's Skin Art Tattoo Shop, you may contact him at 0908-3976419.   

Nomadik Portraits is the new section in this blog for my collection of short stories and three portrait photos of interesting people and fellow nomads I meet on my travels.

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