For the first time, the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) bestowed the Dangal ng Haraya Award for Intangible Cultural Heritage upon a traditional artist: tattoo folk artist and icon Apo Whang-Od Oggay.
Senator Loren Legarda—a former awardee—formally conferred the honor to the 102-year-old manwhatok on Monday at the Kalinga Capitol Plaza in Tabuk, Kalinga. In a signed resolution, NCCA chair Virgilio Almario recognized Whang-Od "as a living vessel of a traditional practice, [who] deserves honor and acknowledgment for her contributions, particularly by bringing to greater attention the indigenous practice of tattooing and Filipino culture in general."
According to a news release, the 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."
Whang-Od's influence as an esteemed tattooist has reached other countries since her humble beginnings in the village of Buscalan. From warriors to celebrities, people from all walks of life flock to her home just to get a signature design inked using the traditional style, a method which she has began to teach to younger Kalinga women.
Sen. JV Ejercito was among those who were fortunate to grace the ceremony and have the mambabatok's design tattooed on his forearm.
Whang-Od joins cultural advocates like Legarda, Dr. Jesus Peralta, the late Sen. Edgardo Angara, Arch. Augusto Villalon, and Susan Calo Medina.
Netizens are delighted with the development
Lucky are those who have firsthand experience
This is just how big of a deal the woman is
Can't believe this living legend is past the century mark
Congratulations and well-deserved, Whang-Od!