Erin Santiago: I’m a Mom of Three, And I Have More Than Five Tattoos

Erin Santiago: I’m a Mom of Three, And I Have More Than Five Tattoos

Hello, Bagong Nanay!

This #KuwentongBagongNanay is very special to me – because this is just a speck of the amazing nanayhood story of my *drum roll please* big sister!

I wrote in a long post on Facebook how and why my Ate is an amazing sister, daughter, mom, friend, boss, and human being. But there’s a side that I would like to reveal about her – although her tattoos may be the first thing you see when you look at her, I want her to share the beautiful stories behind each of them.

Just like my Ate and her tattoos, there are a lot of things that us, Bagong Nanays, need to challenge to break stigmas. And my way of doing so is by shed light on these issues, by providing a platform to tell personal and intimate stories like this.

Read on, and I hope you’ll look at moms with tattoos differently afterwards.


1. What made you decide to get inked? How was your first experience like?

Growing up, I’ve always liked art, and beautiful art on skin is something that I’ve always wanted! I had struggles with weight loss and self confidence, and I thought that having a tattoo would be a great way to commemorate the start of a new discipline.

My first tattoo was a “Google tattoo” that my amazing artist, Tupe Guillergan, challenged then. I spent hours looking for, and deciding what I want to be first inked with. Alas, I ended up searching “feather with birds” in Google.

Erin and her first tattoo: a feather with birds by Tupe Guillergan

Looking back, I kinda regret that I stuck with it as I could’ve gotten a more unique one. But it was meaningful to me at that time, so it’s still good. It meant freedom and liberation for me; birds flying away, escaping. 

The experience was actually okay; it didn’t hurt as much as I expected, but it really was a good decision (or not) because after the first one, I wanted to come back for more.

2. What and where are your tattoos, and what do they mean for you?

After the first one, I had four more tattoos.

The second one was a set of four small pieces: musical notes behind my left ear, and a matching media tattoo. They symbolized my love for music, and how I see life. It doesn’t have a stop button too – so we keep going.

Erin’s 2nd tattoo: rewind, pause, play, fast forward and shuffle buttons

I also have in my arm the name of my son Cyrus written in arabic font, which is also a homage to my dad who was working as an OFW in Saudi Arabia at the time.

My third tattoo was a unique elephant head, from a different artist this time, Kristoval Art, who is also extremely talented. The design was custom-made for me, and it has a world of different meanings – but for me, mainly it’s how the elephant protects its offspring. It represents my love for my kids.

Erin’s elephant head tattoo – with her daughter’s birth marks on the left ear – by Kristoval Art

Tattoo #4 is a ferris wheel on my left chest. The most painful yet. This one was inspired by a quote I love about life: “Life is like a ferris wheel, you have to get past the fear to enjoy the view.” It’s a reminder that even if life has its ups and downs, there’s always a way out.

Erin’s ferris wheel tattoo

I placed it literally close to my heart as I love amusement parks, this one in particular was the one in Sky Ranch Tagaytay.

Wow the details.

Tattoo # 5 is something I got from a recent trip, two small pieces by finns.film. One symbolizing the beginning and the end, and the other one commemorating a friendship that started in Real Estate Street. 

Souvenir tattoos from a recent trip by finns.film

3. What do your kids think about you having tattoos?

My son, Cyrus, used to say “you have dirty, mommy!” when he saw my first tattoo. It went on for months. Still makes me laugh to this day.

My daughter, Hayley, doesn’t seem to mind, she sometimes say “may sulat ka oh” in her attempt to make a conversation about it, but she particularly likes my new A/Z tattoo when we practice her ABCs. 🤣

Mommy Erin with her kids Cyrus, 12, and Hayley, 4

4. What are the stigmas that women, particularly mothers, with tattoos face, and how would you like to challenge them?

I clearly remember a scenario when I rode a jeepney from work. I was wearing a sleeveless tank top and jeans (I had a jacket on but I took it off before riding the jeep because it was humid), and when I sat down, I saw the lady across me clutch her bag tightly to her chest (quite obviously) when she saw my tattoo.

Elephant in the room 🐘

Had a good laugh about it when I somehow should be offended, but most of the time tattoos are still recognized as something most people frown at.

Tattoos mean different things for different people, but no matter what, this shouldn’t be a reason for us to judge.

Erin Santiago for Bagong Nanay

There may be a story or not behind tattoos, but what the hell, it’s a free country, right? Tattoos do not hurt anyone, but the judgment and discrimination does. Getting tattoos isn’t a vice, it is a form of self-expression through art. I hope more people see that. 

5. What’s the part of having a tattoo that you think most people don’t know about? 

Tattoos are a great conversation starter. I’ve had random people come up to me asking what they mean, or how beautiful they are (my elephant head piece is always a winner). It isn’t always a welcome thought, but it is for the most part.

I can say that I gained a lot of confidence when I had my first tattoo. As a mom struggling with weight issues, I had fun wearing nice clothes and showing them off.

Erin Santiago

If you plan on getting inked, it’s important to choose the artist carefully. As it is something that stays on your skin permanently, you would want it to something that you can be proud to show off (or not, your call).

I would also like to say that it isn’t true that you will never be able to donate blood after getting one. One year and you’re good to go as long as there’s no other reason not to. 

6. In only six words, describe what kind of Bagong Nanay you are.

I am a Bagong Nanay who would do anything for family.


I am Erin Santiago of Parañaque.

I am the not-so Bagong Nanay of Cyrus, 12, and Hayley, 4. Daniel, my angel in heaven, made me a Bagong Nanay, who would’ve been 16 this year.

When I’m not cooking, or picking up after my kids, or working as a supervisor in a BPO company, I am a gamer. I love having conversations over coffee with friends, and I also try and imitate Chloe Ting workouts in YouTube on a good day.


Love her story? Give Erin a shoutout by leaving a comment below!

4 responses to “Erin Santiago: I’m a Mom of Three, And I Have More Than Five Tattoos”

  1. Badass boss mom!!! Love you two! 😘
    When are you getting your first, Mrs. GodspeedYellow36 / BagongNanay Founder?! 🥰

    Like

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