The tattoo and piercing scene in Cebu has always been a close-knit community of passionate creatives who share a profound and deep love for the craft. It is safe to say that Cebu has always been a thriving place for artists to hone their talents and skills. This is where Ronnie Macapagal, president of Cebu Tattoo Club and founder of Cebu Tattoo Community, began his incredible career as a trailblazing tattoo artist and a notable figure in the industry in the Visayas and Mindanao.
Establishing the first tattoo shop in the Visayas and Mindanao region wasn’t a walk in the park for Ronnie. When he was younger, he struggled to find his true passion, hopping from one job to another, taking various classes, and wandering endlessly in search of something to fuel his soul. His life took a fateful turn when he visited Cebu. Along the way, Ronnie faced significant challenges.
Having lived in Manila for 11 years, he couldn’t speak a smidge of Bisaya, and he only had a few pesos left in his pocket. However, these challenges fueled his determination to push forward. He hired a translator and eventually decided to open his first tattoo shop called “Modern Tattoo,” an apt name where Ronnie offered unique tattoo designs and techniques.
Filled with utmost grit and determination to share his craft and skill with the world, Ronnie took it upon himself to market and sell his business by advertising Modern Tattoo on the streets of Colon and downtown Cebu. Cebuanos were not familiar with Ronnie’s style of tattooing, and they were more accustomed to rather dull designs done with a basic needle and ink. Still, Ronnie pushed hard until he garnered plenty of clients, and his business began to flourish.
As business boomed and Ronnie’s clientele grew from middle-class and upper-class Cebuanos to foreigners, he renamed his shop “Modern Tattoo by Ronnie” and relocated to the uptown area of Cebu at Fuente Osmeña Rotunda. As his business grew, so did the tattoo community in Cebu. Ronnie and Jack Jakosalem founded the Cebu Tattoo Club.
Ronnie expanded his expertise and dabbled in body painting, excelling in the art form. He participated in various competitions all over the Visayas and Mindanao regions and eventually brought the art form to Cebu. Since then, body painting shows have been held left and right in the region, using the human body as a blank canvas and elevating it into works of art.
The stars were already aligning for Ronnie, but he wanted to do more. In 1999, he held the largest tattoo event outside Manila and the largest in the Visayas and Mindanao regions, titled “1st Patik Festival.” The festival was graced by many tattoo artists from all over the Philippines and featured a two-week exhibit called “A Glimpse of the Painted Past,” showcasing the history of Philippine tattoos with photos and replicas of ancient tools used by native Filipinos.
Ronnie’s journey into becoming one of the most prominent tattoo artists in the industry is one for the books. With his profound love for the art of tattooing, piercing, and body painting, he is a shining example of how one’s passion for the arts can lead to great heights and inspire generations of artists to follow suit.