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May 16, 2017
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Expect busier queues en route to Buscalan after The New York Times recently took notice of Maria Fang-od Oggay, also known as Apo Whang-Od. 

The long-form feature entitled "At 100 or So, She Keeps a Philippine Tattoo Tradition Alive" by Aurora Almendral chronicles a day in the life of the last Kalinga 'mambabatok' and enlightens readers about the oldest (said to be a centenarian) tattoo artist's contributions to the timeless practice.

Despite spending almost all her life immersed in the craft, Whang-Od's name only gained significant traction when anthropologist Lars Krutak featured her in the 2009 documentary, Tattoo Hunter. Since then, the village of Buscalan has been constantly visited by tourists, including foreigners and local celebrities.

A few days before the NY Times article was released, FHM July 2016 covergirl Rhian Ramos trekked back to the province for her second appointment with Whang-Od, three years after receiving her first ink from the living legend—a scorpion and a hawk.

But Rhian isn't the only babe who mustered enough courage to experience the 'batok' (traditional hand-tapped tattooing). Earlier this year, Eat Bulaga co-host Patricia Tumulak, along with her siblings, headed for the mountains to meet the artist.

Shortly after, couple Aiza Seguerra and Liza Diño followed suit to check on Whang-Od amid health concerns. It seems that all is well with the mambabatok, who even worked on a little something for Liza. Four years ago, Aiza also got her own symbolic mark from the revered artist.

In 2014, host Drew Arellano also had the chance to have a piece of history etched under his skin, when he included Buscalan in his Biyahe ni Drew itinerary.

So, are you brave enough to make the journey? 

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