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.
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