Whang-od conferred Dangal Ng Haraya

CITY OF TABUK, Kalinga, June 27 (PIA) -- Kalinga’s oldest living tattoo artist Maria ‘Whang-od’ Oggay is  conferred the Dangal Ng Haraya: Pamanang Bayan by the National Commission on Culture and Arts (NCCA) here on Monday, June 25.


NCCA Chair Virgilio Almario administered the conferment  and was  witnessed by Senator JV Ejercito, Presidential Communications and Operations Office Undersecretary Lorraine Badoy and other dignitaries from the NCCA, local officials and the public.

Almario ,National Artist for Literature , said the Dangal Ng Haraya is the highest award the Commission bestows to a person in recognition of his distinct feat and contribution to the country’s Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Whang-od’s  craft was made popular when Natividad Suguiyao, then Kalinga Provincial Director of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, invited Whang-od to join a tattoo festival organized by their office. Since then, Whang-od’s tattoo art caught the attention of national and international media and rapidly spread through feature presentations.

Sugguiyao said  several documentary articles were produced about Whang-od like the Last Tattoo Hunter that were shown in Paris, Canada, Germany, USA and other major cities in the world. She was also featured in the British Broadcasting Company ,Discovery Channel and other media outfits.

Whang-od, who has been practicing her craft  for about 80 years now, started when she was  15 years old by tattooing warriors of their tribe coming home from engagements with other warring tribes using the hand tapping technique.

In the Kalinga culture in the olden days, tattoo connotes respect, bravery and leadership among men. Tattoo is earned by taxing one’s life  and battles won. For Kalinga girls, tattoos  are a symbol of their strength and beauty, and the design usually indicates their social status. Tattoo is therefore given only to those worthy of it.

Based on available sources, Whang-od was born on  February 17, 1917 in Buscalan, Tinglayan from a Butbut tribe family.

From the testimony given by Tinglayan Mayor Sacrament S. Gumilab, Whang-od brought the map of their municipality and that of the province to the world  bringing in economic opportunities.

Many tourists are visiting  Buscalan to have  Whang-od’s tribal motif tattooed in their skin. (PIA Kalinga)


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