Foreign News

Vogue Philippines Features Oldest Tattooist As Cover Model For Latest Issue

Micheal Chukwuebuka, Reporting

A 106-year-old indigenous Kalinga woman, Apo Whang-Od, popularly known as Maria Oggay, has been featured as a cover model on Vogue Philippines’ Beauty issue for the month of April.

Whang-Od, who hails from a small mountain village of Buscalan, Philippines, is considered the country’s oldest mambabatok (traditional tattooist).

Stonix News reports that she became famous for mastering a 1,000-year-old “batok” tattooing technique, which uses a traditional tapping method utilising sharp stick and a charcoal soot.

Screenshot 20230401 083047 Lite

According to the magazine, Whang-Od began learning the traditional method from her father at age 16.

In a tweet on Friday night, Vogue Philippines wrote:

“Apo Maria ‘Whang-Od’ Oggay symbolises the strength and beauty of the Filipino spirit.

“Heralded as the last mambabatok of her generation, she has imprinted the symbols of the Kalinga tribe signifying strength, bravery & beauty on the skin. 

“Whang-Od is the face of Vogue Philippines’ Beauty issue, which also highlights the female gaze.”

106-year-old Whang-Od’s artworks have driven waves of tattoo tourism to the Philippines, where people from all over the world visit her to receive her legendary designs.

Her work has inspired a new generation of batok artists in the Philippines and United States.

“When visitors come from far away, I will give them the tatak Buscalan, tatak Kalinga for as long as my eyes can see,” Whang-Od told Vogue

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