Gave Thanks to the Ancestors & Elders

Because I am still grappling with how certain cultural practices and spiritual systems are being misappropriated and/or further colonized, for Dia de Los Muertos this year, I decided to leave an atang offering instead. In the Filipino tradition, an atang is a food offering to the ancestors to ward off evil by keeping their spirits cared for and happy. This post is backdated. 


I visited the ancestors today.

Lemons for my Loleng/Jimenez lolo’t lola sa tuhod because of the calamansi tree that sprouted in my grandmas front yard, after she saved money to bring her parents over. (I didn’t have any calamansi, so I improvised with lemons from my own yard).
     A rose for my Benetua lolo’t lola, because I remember stories of how fragrant and alive my Lolo’s rose bushes were. And Lola used rose twigs to keep her ears gauged. (This single rose was the last we had in our garden for the season. Yes it is
thorny, and yes it’s rose scent is strong).
          A donut for my dad because he always took us for donuts, and now it’s my own tradition to bring him one when I visit. I also brought him a lemon from our backyard.
               Extra citrus for everyone, because it’s in season, and
                    A sprig of bay leaves – from the fallen branch I found – to remind them of adobo, the best comfort food there is.

I am thankful for their strength and struggles, and for providing me with the lessons necessary to be who and where I am today.

To the ancestors:

it is my hope we remember your stories and pass them to the generations to come so that they might know more than just your/our chronology, but your personalities as well. Y’all were wise, warm, maybe batshit cray because of the war… And loved and missed. I hope I’m making you proud. 

Your lil’ descendent.

This Thanksgiving (Thanks-taking / Thangs-taken) I will be spending time with friends and family. I am thankful to have parents and elders who had strength when they immigrated to this country, and I’m thankful that I haven’t had to face much struggle because of them.

I just want to take a moment to recognize that we are all settlers in this country unless you are indigenous. However many generations, whatever number, I don’t care – I just ask on this holiday at least admit to the fact that this day celebrates and perpetuates colonization, genocide, and continued oppression of the native people of this land. 



Dreamweaving* = Nic and I both had dreams about tattooing, on consecutive nights from one another’s. There is some potent energy at work here; it only gets stronger as we all get closer. The threads of our generation, we are all woven closer to each other and closer to our ancestors – intertwined by our dreams, blood and ink.


Yesterday, I went to my friend Mike’s house for his birthday.  Another of our friends, Nicanor, was up from LA to visit and tattoo some folks.  For Mike’s birthday, Nic gave him a tattoo.  A few of us gathered to hang out and be present during the tatok ceremony.  Prior to Nicanor’s arrival, I had a vivid, beautiful dream about tattooing.  It may have been my subconscious reflecting my intuitive energy back to me in a visual way; it might also be a message from the ancestors.  The scene was as such –

I remember rushing with urgency to be somewhere.  In my dream I was running – actually running quickly – not the slow motion, sluggish-leg, dream state running.  I was charging down a rolling, grassy hill until, finally, I reached a meadow.  When the hill leveled out, it was as if I broke through a barrier – some permeable bubble, that once I stepped through it, all senses came to life.  The soft, baby-grass-green underfoot; the electrified blue of the sky overhead.  The whisper of wind through the trees; the kiss of sun on my skin. When I arrived, a group of friends were sitting in a circle on woven mats in the grass.  I was the last to take my place, completing the circle.  As I sat upon the mat, the voices and laughter of the circle rang like a melody – there were no words; everything was communicated through song, smiles and eyes.  As I looked around, we all had markings on our bodies as if to gather as one family.  Off in the corner was Nicanor tattooing and working away with several people around him.  There was a hint at a ceremony or ritual from what I could tell in my periphery.  As I turned my focus back to the group, in my dream, I closed my eyes.  It was then that I woke up.

When I left my room, now in my waking state, I went to facebook and found Nicanor’s post about beginning his journey up to the Bay Area and manifesting growth through tattooing.  I wrote that I had dreamt about it, and he immediately messaged me to ask what it was.  It was then that I gave him the story of my dream.

The next night, Nicanor had a dream about carrying the responsibility of his tattooing practice.  I cannot speak for his dream, but as he described it to me with such spirit, there was a very strong, very profound message for him.  When he woke, his friend who tattoos in the traditional manner (hand-tap) in the Philippines reached out to him through Facebook, similar to the way Nic reached out to me the day previous.  The day after Nic’s dream, he tattooed Mike and they gave a ritual food offering to the ancestors.  And wouldn’t you know it, I was the last to arrive.  Mike’s tattoo includes two words written in baybayin: “infinite” and “mystery.”  …There are too many parallels between our experiences to be coincidence.

Please learn more about Nicanor Evans’ tattooing journey by visiting his Facebook and Etsy.