Thursday, October 1, 2015

Whang-Od as National Artist: Does the 95-year-old 'mambabatok' deserve such recognition?

There's an online campaign pushing for Apo Whang-Od, known as the oldest living 'mambabatok' or tattoo artist of Kalinga, to be declared as a National Artist. She's already in her nineties but her eyes are still sharp and she does the tattooing perfectly. Okay, maybe not perfect, as the lines she creates are obviously not perfectly straight, but that's the beauty of it. It's not made by a machine, and it's purely Filipino.

Whang-Od creates tattoos with a mix of soot and water which will then be applied to the skin through a stencil and then be pierced to the skin using a stick with a thorn end. She has been visited by many local and foreign tourists in her small village in Buscalan to have her make them tattoos and has been featured on CNN and the History Channel.

The tattoos are not simply for aesthetics as they have historical and cultural significance. "If you haven't got a tattoo you aren't a true warrior,"says Whang-Od. Those who have an eagle tattooed on their chest beheaded a Japanese enemy during World War II.

Watch her video story below.

Please feel free to share this post with the hashtag #WangOdNationalArtist if you think she deserves such an honor.

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