THE National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) is set to endorse Whang-od, the oldest “mambabatok” as a national artist.
“We will endorse because the National Commission on Culture and the Arts will ask us, especially our people from Kalinga,” said Commissioner for Region I and the Cordilleras Basilio Wandag.
“Whang-od should be a national artist since her art is part of Cordillera. She has also shared her knowledge to the younger generation.” The highest national recognition is given to Filipino individuals who have made significant contributions to the development of Philippine arts jointly administered by the NCCA and Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) conferred by the President of the Philippines upon recommendation by both institutions.
Whang-od is considered as the oldest traditional "mambabatok" or tattoo artist in the country born in Buscalan, Tinglayan, Kalinga where she is a member of the Butbut tribe. Whang-od uses an old tradition of painful technique of in tatooing where she incorporates the use of a tattoo ink from the mixture of charcoal and water tapped into the skin through a thorn end of a citrus tree.
Wandag said the art of tattoo in Kalinga is an expression of the culture of the people and it is a custom symbolism. “In fact when we hold festivals in Kalinga, tattooing are among those things we don, not only dances and chants,” added Wandag.
Previous recipients of the said prestigious award includes Benedicto Cabrera in 2006, a painter now based in Baguio City noted as one of the best-selling painter of his generation.
Recently, Whang-od was also nominated as "Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan or the National Living Treasures Award recently at the World Trade Center in Pasay City.
By Lauren Alimondo @ Sunstar Baguio