These people made the pilgrimage to Buscalan to meet and get inked by the famous mambabatok.
Over the last decade, there has been a resurgence of interest in traditional tattoos largely due to Apo Whang-Od, the oldest mambabatok from Tinglayan in the Kalinga mountains. Attention to the 106 year-old traditional tattoo artist, dubbed the ‘last’ living mambabatok, first came when she was featured in a documentary by anthropologist Lars Krutak on the Discovery Channel. Crowds have since taken the long, strenuous trip to Buscalan to visit the Butbut tribe and receive their traditional tattoos. More importantly, what was once thought to be a dying art is now being passed down to a new generation of mambabatok, ensuring that the culture lives on.
Whang-Od’s visitors have included celebrities over the years. Here are just some of them:
In March of this year, Apples Aberin traveled to Kalinga for the Tourism Promotions Board’s (TPB) Community Based Tourism Market Enhancement Program. Between visiting communities in the province, she found time to meet Apo Whang-Od and get a tattoo on her wrist.
The television host visited Kalinga Province in 2014 and got a tattoo from Apo Whang-Od on his finger.
For Apo Whang-Od’s 101st birthday and the 10th anniversary of his show Matanglawin, Kim Atienza made the trek to Buscalan in 2018 to get a cross tattoo and the three-dot sign-off.
The content creator-turned-television host visited Buscalan in 2019 and got a tattoo on her ankle.
A pioneering female DJ in Metro Manila, Patty Tiu received a tattoo of a compass on her wrist from Apo Whang-Od in 2017.