Kalinga tattoo artist Whang-od to receive National Living Treasures Award

TABUK CITY, Kalinga — The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) is set to award the country’s oldest tattoo artist “Whang-od” or Maria Oggay, the “Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan (GAMABA) or the National Living Treasures Award.

Ferdinand Isleta, NCCA-Cultural Communities & Traditional Arts Section chief, said they have been finalizing the documents to accompany the records for the award for signing by President Rodrigo Duterte soonest.

The recognition is equivalent to a national artist award.

At 97, Whang-od is considered as the oldest traditional “mambabatok” or tattoo artist in the country.

Born in Buscalan, Tinglayan, Kalinga, Whang-od started tattooing when she was ten years old. She is a Butbut tribe member.

Whang-od uses tattoo ink from a mixture of charcoal and water that will be tapped into the skin through a thorn end of a calamansi or pomelo tree. The ancient and painful technique dates back a thousand years ago. Villamor Visaya, Jr/PNA