The Last Kalinga Tattoo Artist
Photo and caption by Michal Duchek
A fascinating culture of the Igorot people brought me and my girlfriend to Kalinga. Head-hunting ceased decades ago, however, the motifs of Kalinga tattoos and the way they are being tattoed remains the same (charcoal and an orange thorn). We decided to visit this beautiful tribeswoman who is the last Kalinga tattoo artist. After a few days, long hours spent on buses and jeepneys, we were lucky to find a local guide Francis who brought us to Buscalan. We were overwhelmed how hospitable and friendly she is. Her natural beauty and her tattoo tempted me to ask her for a pose outside her dwelling.
IT’S APO WHANG OD ! :D One of the most respected elders in the Philippines and the most respected woman in regards to the movement of the reviving of our tattooing culture. Praise this woman and her awesomeness. Next year when I go back home I’m definitely planning on seeing her.
So many traditions are dying away because the youth are not interested. It’s not easy living out in the provinces and our collective culture is disappearing.
It’s not just young, sadly. It’s also the conservative traditionalists. I was having this discussion with my mom earlier today about this piece of Filipino history. I expressed a desire to get in touch with THIS part of Filipino history and how I thought it was so sad that this was dying out. She made a disgusted face and said tattoos are ugly and had no interest in this part of our culture/history.
I look at this picture and I think it’s amazing and the woman and her tattoos are gorgeous. It’s disappointing how tattoos had such a bad rep. Most of my older relatives detest them and don’t even know about this tradition. This is a part of our culture, our history, us, and it is beautiful.
Every time I see her beautiful self on my dash I instantly get happy! I cannot wait until Alex and I go to the Philippines together :3