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Netizens Are Fuming Over Apo Whang-Od’s Alleged Exploitation During The Manila Fame Event

Is this a promotion or the commercialization of culture?
by Andrei Medina | Oct 23, 2017
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Curiosity mashed up with all forms of Filipino culture during the annual Manila FAME trade show at the World Trade Center, where thousands were in attendance over the weekend.

Among the main attractions was Apo Whang-Od, the legendary 100-year-old tattoo artist from Buscalan, Kalinga who was flown to Manila with the help of the Philippine Air Force.

If you haven’t heard, Whang-Od is said to be the last living mambabatok, who uses the traditional Kalinga tattoo technique. One of the celebrities who recently went all the way to Buscalan to get tattooed by the centenarian was Rhian Ramos.

During the event, attendees were not only given the chance to see Whang-Od in person, but they could also score an autograph and a tattoo without the hassles of making their way to the mountain province.

Needless to say, everything went well and the other attendees also enjoyed Whang-Od’s presence as they were allowed to watch how she performed her craft. But controversy marred Manila FAME after a photo showing an apparently exhausted Whang-Od sleeping at a press conference during the event surfaced online.

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Meanwhile, fashion designer Sarah Oxales, who attended the event, tried to present an unbiased perspective on the whole issue based on her experience.

Manila FAME for their part issued a statement to clarify the issue.


On social media, netizens were mostly riled up over the alleged exploitation of Whang-Od and her craft: 

Some said the event commercializes culture:

These guys got triggered!

Others prefer a Whang-Od tattoo the old-fashioned way.

In the end, some thought she simply deserves better.

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