Arts and Culture

Senate nominates tattooist Whang-Od for National Living Treasures Award

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Senate nominates tattooist Whang-Od for National Living Treasures Award

Whang-Od, who turned 99 on February 17, hails from Buscalan village in Kalinga.

The STAR/Miguel de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate on Tuesday adopted a resolution nominating tribal tattooist Whang-Od Oggay for the National Living Treasures Award for her contribution to the country’s artistic heritage. 

Also known as Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan, it is the highest honor given by the government to a person or a group engaged in traditional art. 

Senators Nancy Binay and Juan Edgardo Angara introduced Senate Resolutions nos. 2 and 538.  

Angara’s resolution, which was filed last year, recognizes Whang-Od as the only surviving Kalinga traditional tattoo artist with the title of “mambabatok” or a master tattooist of “batek,” or the folk skin inscriptions of the province.  

“It is only proper to nominate Whang-Od for the GAMABA for her exceptional embodiment of the Filipino’s rich heritage, not only to honor her and similar individuals who contribute and enrich the Filipino cultural identity and history but also to preserve and to further promote traditional folk arts for the benefit of future generations,” Angara said. 

Binay, moreover, said that Whang-Od’s contribution to the craft “should not go unrecognized and warrants nomination.”

Whang-Od, who turned 99 on February 17, hails from Buscalan village in Kalinga. 

Her work has attracted many local and foreign tourists.

The National Living Treasures Award was institutionalized in 1992 through Republic Act 7355. The National Commission for Culture and the Arts is tasked with the implementation. 


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