It was my dream to be inked by the last traditional tattoo artist of the Butbut tribe, Apo Whang-od Oggay. Back then, tattoos were only given to the members of their tribe especially the warriors. She turned 100 this year (2017) between February and March. They said that they do not have exact birthdays.
I am happy that my children were able to meet her. We passed by her house as we were roaming around the village and she gladly gave us permission to take pictures with her.
Each tattoo has a meaning. I chose the scorpion tattoo that symbolizes courage and strength. They used bamboo and a sharpened thorn of calamansi tree in tattooing. The rate would be around 300Php to 1500Php depending on the size.
Quick snap here:
As she gets older, Apo Whang-od makes sure that their culture will still be preserved. She then trains her granddaughters (or grandnieces?) Elyang and Grace to do traditional tattooing. I was able to meet Grace but Elyang was in school that time.
It was such an honor to be inked by the last Mambabatok of Kalinga. She is indeed a living treasure! I just hope that she will soon be recognized as a National Artist as she plays a big part of our culture. Also, she is a centenarian but sadly, she was not able to get the incentive for being one because she doesn’t have a birth certificate to prove her age. 🙁 I just hope that the government will give her all the benefits that she truly deserves. Mabuhay ka, Apo!
Your Wander Momma