Acclaimed Filipino tattoo artist, Whang-od Oggay is reportedly in fragile health. Recently, a Facebook user who calls herself Miming Leung Yin-Baker posted a photo with Apo Whang-od who seems to be in poor health. The photo was accompanied by a long post describing the facebook user's long journey to Buscalan in the hopes of getting a tattoo from the famous 'mambabatok'*.
However, upon reaching her destination, it was apparent that the tourist is not going to be able to get the tattoo she wanted. She discovered, upon her arrival that Whang-od was not in the best state to give tattoos to anyone. Presumably, upon assessing the tattoo artist's situation, the tourist came to the conclusion that she probably has pneumonia.
Miming Leung-Baker's post started off with the following:
"Unfortunately, we will be coming home tattoo-less. Dear Apo Whang Od is no longer in good health ??
We think she has pneumonia, she coughs up phlegm & has a hard time breathing. Even though she was too weak to get up, she tried her best to talk to us & even asked what tattoo we wanted from her. But it was clear that she doesn't have the strength to do so."
The said Facebook post also provideD other information that the tourist learned about the famous tattoo artist. Whang-od was dubbed as "the last mambabatok" a few years ago, a title that technically no longer holds true because she has already passed on her knowledge of tattoo art to a few younger members of her community. But "last mambabatok" or not, Whang-od remains the favorite among tourists and tattoo enthusiasts who brave the difficult journey to Buscalan. It has been reported that thousands of tourists around the world travel to Buscalan just to get a tattoo from Whang-od. Concerned citizens are starting to worry about the state of Whang-od's health given that she is now 99 years old. A few years ago, the late former Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago filed a resolution that urged the government to recognize Whang-od as a Living National Treasure. After news of Whang-od's declining health came out, talks of nominating her as a National Artist were revived.
On Friday, February 3, 2017, Miming Leung-Yin Baker posted two new videos of Whang-od.
*Mambabatok: Kalinga tattoo artist who traditionally caters to headhunters and women from the region. The purpose of a tattoo done in this style is highly significant to Kalinga culture. The process of creating this tattoo involves tapping the thorn of a pomelo plant on the skin. The ink used is made from charcoal and water.
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