The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) is now processing the “Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan” (GAMABA) or the National Living Treasures Award for Kalinga’s most famous tattoo artist.
Maria Oggay, better known as Whang-od belongs to the Butbut tribe. She is the oldest “mambabatok” or traditional tattoo artist in Kalinga and in the country at the age of 97. She uses purely traditional means in tattooing using the thorn of a lemon or pomelo plant in her craft. She is famous not only in the Philippines but also in other countries. According to Ferdinand Isleta, head of the NCCA- Cultural Communities & Traditional Arts Section, they are now in the process of deliberating the personality and qualities of Whang-od for submission and approval of President Rodrigo Duterte.