NCCA Chairman and National Artist Virgilio Almario will personally award the Dangal ng Haraya to Whang od in a ceremony on June 25 at the Kalinga Capitol Plaza here. Kalinga officials led by Gov. Jocel Baac will also be present during the ceremony.
Dangal ng Haraya is given to living Filipino artists, cultural workers, and historians, artistic or cultural groups, historical societies, institutions, foundations and councils, for their outstanding achievements in relevant fields that have made an impact and significant contribution to Philippine culture and arts.
In the resolution signed by Almario, the NCCA recognizes Whang od “as a living vessel of a traditional practice, [who] deserves honor and acknowledgement for her contributions, particularly by bringing to greater attention the indigenous practice of tattooing and Filipino culture in general.”
“Apo Whang od’s continuing work as a manwhatok and her influence on the Filipino traditional arts scene leading to a heightened awareness about the culture of the Kalinga community -- their worldview, traditions, and expressions -- earned her the Dangal ng Haraya for Intangible Cultural Heritage, ” the NCCA statement read.
Whang od, from Buscalan village in the municipality of Tinglayan, is believed to be the oldest mambabatok (traditional Kalinga tattooist). Her practice started in her early adolescence and has long been recognized and respected in her community as a master tattooist in the traditional Kalinga way.
Practising the ancient art of hand tapped tattooing using charcoal as ink and calamansi thorns to puncture the skin, Whang od has tattooed not only elders, women, and warriors from her community, but many people including celebrities and foreigners.
Her art has gone far and wide that local and foreign tourists visit her in her home in Buscalan to get inked with the traditional designs, her signature linear three-dot design, and witness the outstanding whatok techniques which she is actively passing on to the younger Kalinga women. She, in fact, has boost the tourism industry of the province.
Whang od remains single and childless but has passed on the art of tattooing onto her bloodline, training nieces the art of traditional tattoo.
With the Dangal ng Haraya conferment, Apo Whang-Od joins the esteemed roster of awardees including past cultural advocates like Senator Edgardo Angara, Architect Augusto Villalon, and Susan Calo Medina; and current cultural champions Senator Loren Legarda, Dr. Jesus Peralta. Redjie Melvic Cawis (JDP/RMC- PIA CAR )