Apo Whang-Od

Tinglayan, Kalinga

Based in the Mountain Province in Buscalan, in the remote northern Cordillera Mountains and Ifugao highlands of the Philippines, lives the oldest known female tattooist, 96-year-old Whang Od. She belongs to a Kalinga headhunting tribe(butbut). To this clan of fierce Igorot warriors, an ancient history associated with themes of otherness and difference, as well as representations of beauty and powe ...

rful collectivity are an inherent part of contemporary traditions. The Kalinga's commune with nature has created a life that integrates philosophical and geographical independence through creative, agricultural and educational sustainability.

Apo Whang-Od News

  • Buscalan Around The Village

    Buscalan Around The Village

    It was my 30-ish birthday and I want to do something different. I want to meet Apo Whang-od Oggay, the last Mambabatok (traditional tattoo artist) of the Butbut Tribe in Kalinga.

  • Buscalan Kalinga Travel Diary

    Buscalan Tattoo Village, Tinglayan, Kalinga (September 2017)

    Went to Buscalan Tattoo Village to see the famous last Mambabatok Apo Whang od and get ourselves a traditional tattoo.

  • Apo Whang-od The Last Traditional Mambabatok

    Apo Whang-od The Last Traditional Mambabatok

    It was my dream to be inked by the last traditional tattoo artist of the Butbut tribe, Apo Whang-od Oggay. Back then, tattoos were only given to the members of their tribe especially the warriors. She turned 100 this year (2017) between February and March. They said that they do not have exact birthdays.

  • Whang-od Gets Backing As National Artist

    The National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP) is set to endorse Whang-od, the oldest "mambabatok" as a national artist.

    "We will endorse because the National Commission on Culture and the Arts will ask us, especially our people from Kalinga," said Commissioner for Region I and the Cordilleras Basilio Wandag.

    "Whang-od should be a national artist since his art is part of Cordillera. She has also shared her knowledge to the younger generation."

    The highest national recognition is given to Filipino individuals who have made significant contributions to the development of Philippine ...

  • Why Some Kalinga Men Dont Want A Tattoo

    When I visited Kalinga last year, my primary goal was to climb Mount Patukan, one of the provinces prominent mountains. But I also considered having a tattoo by Whang-Od. Like many Filipinos, I regarded a tattoo by the countrys famous mambabatok not just a travelers sought-after credential but also a personal tribute to an art thats part of our national heritage. Moreover, with Whang-Ods fading health and dimming eyesight, visiting her had gained a measure of urgency.

    But when I arrived in Tabuk and spoke of my interest in Whang-Od, I received mixed reactions. To be sure, the people respect ...

  • Apo Whang-od Behind The Ink And Lemon Thorns

    Apo Whang-od Behind The Ink And Lemon Thorns

    Everybody knows her as the last "mambabatok" or traditional tattoo artist of the Butbut tribe in Buscalan, Kalinga, a province in northern Philippines.

    Ever since Kara David featured her in the documentary show i-Witness, shes already been in the consciousness not only of Filipinos but also of people from other nations who are particularly interested in tattoos and the art of tattooing.

    And not only once had she been the talk of the town since then. A few years ago, there had been a clamor for her to be declared a national artist. Also not long ago, she became known internationally when ...