Photos by Marvin Alcaraz
The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), led by chairman and National Artist Virgilio Almario, is set to grant the revered manwhatok (tattooist) Apo Whang Od Oggay the esteemed 2018 Dangal ng Haraya Award for Intangible Cultural Heritage in a ceremony set to happen in Kalinga Capitol Plaza, Tabuk, Kalinga on Monday, June 25, 5 p.m.
In a Special Resolution confirmed during the Regular Commission Meeting held last May 2, 2018 in Davao City, the NCCA recognized the role and the status of Whang Od as one of the oldest living traditional whatok (tattoo) practitioners of the Kalinga community.
Apo Whang Od has long been recognized and respected in her community as a master tattooist. Her practice started in her early adolescence and has since tattooed elders, women, and warriors from her community in the traditional Kalinga practice—using charcoal as ink and calamansi or suha thorns to puncture the skin.
Local and international tourists flock her abode in Buscalan to get inked with traditional Kalinga designs, her signature linear three-dot design, and witness the outstanding whatok techniques which she is actively passing on to the younger Kalingan women.
Apo Whang Od’s continuing work as a manwhatok and her influence on the Filipino traditional arts scene leading to a heightened awareness about the culture of the Kalinga community—their worldview, traditions, and expressions—earned her the Dangal ng Haraya for Intangible Cultural Heritage.
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.
Through Dangal ng Haraya and its other institutional awards, the NCCA seeks to uphold excellence in all artistic and cultural endeavors, encourage initiative and participation among groups and individuals, and recognize exemplary cultural programs that can serve as valuable examples to others.
In the resolution signed by NCCA chairman Almario, the Commission recognizes Whang Od “as a living vessel of a traditional practice, [who] deserves honor and acknowledgement for her contributions, particularly by bringing to greater attention the indigenous practice of tattooing and Filipino culture in general.”
The local government of Kalinga also expressed their support on the conferment of the 2018 Dangal ng Haraya.
With the Dangal ng Haraya conferment, Apo Whang Od joins the esteemed roster of awardees including past cultural advocates like senator Edgardo Angara, architect Augusto Villalon, and Susan Calo Medina; and current cultural champions senator Loren Legarda and Dr. Jesus Peralta.