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Whang-od: 97-Year-Old Ancient Tattoo Artist Gets Overwhelming Support From the Netizens

Whang-od tatooing in Kalinga
Whang-od tatooing in Kalinga

Tattoo is one of the world’s earliest and most pervasive ancient art forms. Many cultures across the globe practice embedding permanent dyes in their bodies for different reasons such as symbols for tribe and social classification, form of punishment, for the purpose of healing or as a mark of rank, power and accomplishments.

In Kalinga Province in Cordillera Philippines, lives a 97-year-old ancient tattoo artist named Apo Whang Od (pronounced as Fang Od) Oggay, who is known for “her world-class contribution to the art of tattoo-making that is genuinely Filipino.”

Whang-od tatooing in Kalinga
Whang-od tatooing in Kalinga By Mawg64 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

Upholding the legacy of her tribe, Whang Od doesn’t use the usual machine. Instead, she uses the traditional way of tattooing by using thorn as her needle and a mix of soot and water as her ink, which is 20x more painful than machine tattoos.

On September 17, 2015, Cebu based Biology instructor Edward Laurence Opena started a campaign on Facebook to declare Whang Od as a National Artist. The post has gone viral and gathered almost 12,000 shares to date.

Below is a YouTube video uploaded by Alpo van Schijndel featuring Whang Od and how she makes tattoo, the traditional Kalinga way.

About Apo Whang-od

Whang-od Oggay; born February 17, 1917) is a Filipina tattoo artist from Buscalan, Tinglayan, Kalinga, Philippines.

She is believed to be the last mambabatok (traditional Kalinga tattooist) from the Butbut people in Buscalan Kalinga and the oldest tattoo artist in the Philippines. She has been tattooing headhunters and women of the indigenous people of Butbut in Buscalan Kalinga for more than 80 years but the Butbut warriors who used to earn tattoos through protecting villages or killing enemies no longer exist.

She now applies the traditional art form to tourists visiting Buscalan. There were proposals to have her as one of the National Artists of the Philippines or as one of the National Living Treasures due to her status as the last mambabatok. She has been featured in various events and television shows featuring her life and her tattoo works. Source: (Wikipedia)

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Written by Anne Cacherell

Anne Cacherell is a viral buzz maker who loves to write about inspiring and interesting stories for healthy public consumption. She is currently based in the twin tropical island paradise of Trinidad & Tobago.

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