After his disqualification in the semifinals of the 1000m short track speedskating event at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, JR Celski unzipped his suit and revealed a large tattoo on his upper left chest. Filipinos and Filipino-Americans were quick to note that the basic design was that of the sun and star combination from the flag of the Philippines. What wasn’t so widely noted was that within the sun pattern is the coat of arms of the Republic of Poland.
JR Celski is a Filipino-American (or “Fil-Am”) through his mother, Sue. However, he’s also a Polish-American (as his last name clearly suggests) through his father, Robert. JR wanted to show both sides of his ethnic heritage by merging together in one tattoo the emblems of both of his ancestral homelands. He had the tattoo done several months before the Olympics and it took about three hours to apply.
Link to more about JR Celski.
J.R. Celski tattoo close-up
On the Philippine flag, in the white triange, is a sun with eight primary rays (composed of three rays each), and three five pointed stars arrayed around it. The eight primary rays represent the eight provinces that initiated the fight against Spanish colonialism in the 1896 Revolution: Manila, Cavite, Bulacan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Laguna, and Batangas. The three stars represent the three major geographical divisions of the country: Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao.
The Polish coat of arms is a crowned white eagle, armed and displayed, on a field of red. The white eagle emblem originated when Poland’s legendary founder Lech saw a white eagle’s nest. The rays of the setting sun made the eagle’s wings appear to be tipped with gold. Lech was so enamored of the sight that he decided to place the image of the eagle on his emblem. The coat of arms appears on the Polish flag in one of the two official variations of it.
Flag of the Philippines and Polish coat of arms
Besides the cultural significance of the tattoo, it also made some viewers of the scene on television to widen their eyes, as they saw that the cute little guy with the big smile had also become a hot young man. It looks like if he wants to, Celski can be going places other than in a circle on the ice. His talent and looks and charisma can be starting points for being a star like his teammate Apolo Anton Ohno has been before him. We will see more.