Whang-od Still Going Strong

Despite her fragile age, Kalinga's oldest mambabatok Maria "Whang-od" Oggay, continues draw her share of visitors at her small village, Buscalan, in Tinglayan town Kalinga.

Believed to be over 100 years old, Whang- od was reported to be sick the past weeks which prompted a viral panic over social media.

However, Tinglayan tourism officer Johnny Tigganay said Whang-od remains strong and can still manage to entertain her visitors every day.

Tigganay said over the weekend, some 200 local and foreign tourists with officials of the National Youth Commission, Film Development Center of the Philippines and personnel from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) visited local icon and had her ink them with her trademark tattoo.

Tigganay said 85 percent of tourists visiting Tinglayan, takes a side trip to Buscalan to have a glimpse of the famed tattoo artist.

In 2016, the tourism office recorded 40,000 tourists with the municipality topping tourism growth rates in the province.

Tigganay said this year, there are 1,436 local and foreign tourists who visited Buscalan averaging 35 visitors in a day.

In the town, attractions like the Mount Sleeping Beauty, waterfalls, rice terraces, hot springs and the dead volcano are also frequented by tourists. In a bid to improve the access going to Tinglayan attractions, the government has cemented some roads networks with others still under construction.

Whang??"od is touted as the oldest surviving traditional tattooist, childless and single, heirs to her art comprise of nieces, great grandnieces which number close to a dozen, all practicing the Kalinga art of traditional tattoo.

Whang??"od's tattoo ink is composed of a mixture of charcoal and water that will be hand tapped into the skin through the thorn end of a lemon or pomelo tree, an ancient art, passed onto generation to generation in the Kalinga culture.

Tigganay said a surge in tourism arrivals was seen in the previous years with Whang??"od being flocked by domestic and international tourists converging in the small village.

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