Declaring Apo Whang Od as one of the National Living Treasures

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Dear President Duterte,

We, the netizens have been lobbying Apo Whang Od to be one of the National Artists of the Philippines since 2015. Until now, Apo Whang Od haven't received any recognition from the government yet. Now is the right time to declare her as one of the National Living Treasures.

Apo Whang Od is considered the last mambabatok from the Butbut tribe in Kalinga and is the oldest tattoo artist in the Philippines.

In 2015, the late Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago urged her colleagues in the Philippine Senate through a resolution that Apo Whang Od should be nominated as one of the National Living Treasures [Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan], who are of equal rank to National Artists. Senator Nancy Binay through a senate resolution in June 2016 enjoined the Philippine senate to nominate Apo Whang Od as a National Living Treasure. Her nomination as National Artist or National Living Treasure has been backed by Senator Loren Legarda.

Former National Commission for Culture and the Arts of the Philippines (NCCA) chair Felipe de Leon Jr. also expressed his support for Apo Whang Od's nomination and argued that the role of a mambabatok is to become the beacon of togetherness and support of the community. He added that by aiding her community through tattooing tourists, Apo Whang Od is practicing traditional Kalinga means of living and therefore should be eligible for both the National Living Treasure Award and the National Artists Award.

On October 20, Apo Whang Od recently attended the forum “Traditional Aesthetic in Contemporary Times” in Pasay City, showcasing her art that remained constant despite the changing eras. This is the art giving the outsiders a glimpse of the Butbut tradition and a portion of the Filipino identity, transcending the many generations.

To become a National Artist, one must be an “inhabitant of an indigenous/traditional cultural community anywhere in the Philippines that has preserved indigenous customs, beliefs, rituals and traditions and/or has syncretized whatever external elements that have influenced it.” The nominee must also practice a folk art tradition that has been in existence and documented for at least 50 years, and must have consistently produced “works of superior and distinctive quality” for a significant period. At the same time, they must also have an established reputation in the art as master, and must pass on their skill to other members of the community.

If she is declared a National Artist, she will be given a golden medallion, a grant of P100,000, and a monthly stipend of P10,000. They will also be given medical care and hospitalization benefits, as well as funeral assistance.

P.S. Mr President, will you accept the challenge of getting inked by the badass, legendary Apo Whang Od? 

 Photo courtesy of Coco Martin PH 



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