By Katherine Marajas
The famous tattoo artist of Kalinga, Apo Whang-od, is set to receive the 2018 Dangal ng Haraya Award for Intangible Cultural Heritage from the NCCA on June 25 at 5 p.m. in Kalinga, Capitol Plaza.
The award is given to Filipinos who have made a lasting impact and significant contribution to the country’s culture and arts.
On May 2 in Davao City, Virgilio Almario, NCCA Chairman and National Artist for Literature, signed a Special Resolution recognizing the role of Whang Od as one of the oldest living traditional whatok (hand-tapped tattoo) practitioners of the Kalinga community.
“Apo Whang Od has long been recognized and respected in her community as a master tattooist. Her practice started in her early adolescence and has since tattooed elders, women, and warriors from her community in the traditional Kalinga practice — using charcoal as ink and calamansi thorns to puncture the skin,” a statement from the NCCA read.
“The commission recognized Whang od ‘as a living vessel of a traditional practice, [who] deserves honor and acknowledgment for her contributions, particularly by bringing to greater attention the indigenous practice of tattooing and Filipino culture in general.'”
Previous recipients of the award include the late senator Edgardo Angara, writer Susan Calo Medina, Senator Loren Legarda, architect Augusto Villalon, and artist Dr. Jesus Peralta.
“Through Dangal ng Haraya and its other institutional awards, NCCA seeks to uphold excellence in all artistic and cultural endeavors, encourage initiative and participation among groups and individuals, and recognize exemplary cultural programs that can serve as valuable examples to others,” the statement added.
Whang Od is the oldest ‘mambabatok’ and is part of Kalinga’s Butbut tribe.