A long time ago, tattoos were a symbol of bravery and status for our ancestors from the Kalinga Province. These separate men from boys. Tattoos were markings of their victories, means the more tattoos they have the more they have been successful in the battlefield. For women, tattoos were also a part of beauty. Men are more attracted to women who have lots of tattoos or batuk.
A batuk is an ancient way of having a tattoo with the use of a bamboo stick with a thorn of pomelo that serves as a needle. However, since there were no more wars and no more kills hence, the culture of mambabatuk slowly died. Tattoos are now a taboo subject to most people but amidst of this dying culture, one particular person enraptured the hearts of Filipinos and foreigners who visits Buscalan in Kalinga. The surviving and oldest tattoo artist is Apo Wang Od.
Apo Wang Od, the oldest tattoo artists in the Philippines is making a buzz in the tattoo industry nowadays. She has performed the batuk procedure to local celebrities like Rhian Ramos, Aiza Seguera and Drew Arellano and westerners who travel far and wide just to experience Wang Od’s masterpiece.
With the use of bamboo sticks, pomelo thorns and other organic materials – including the ink used for the tattoo – Apo Wang Od delivers her ancient tattoos. This procedure was also done by our ancient heroes. No aesthetics, no machines, she does it the old fashioned way.
The famous mambabatok or tattoo artist knows that this culture is dying that is why she decided to share her knowledge to her sister’s granddaughter. The child is now assisting Apo Wang Od with her mambabatuk endeavors. In this way, the culture might still live and carry on for the next generation. How wonderful is that?
I have decided to write about this because I want to raise the awareness of such rich culture that we should never forget even if society is advancing. We would never be who we are today if not for our ancestors and one way to honor them is to share and experience the values, art and cultures they established for us. Right? Until next time bloggers and readers.