SENATOR Loren Legarda congratulated Apo Whang-od for being conferred the title Dangal ng Haraya by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.
“As a Dangal ng Haraya awardee myself, and an advocate of Philippine culture and living traditions, I would like to express my sincerest congratulations to Apo Whang-od for being conferred with the Dangal ng Haraya Award,” said Legarda.
Legarda, who was awarded with the Dangal ng Haraya in 2016, acknowledged the contribution of Whang-od in trying to keep alive the age-old tradition of Kalinga’s form of tattooing, in the midst of emerging modern techniques of this body art.
“Despite Whang-od’s old age and dwindling eyesight, she never stopped practising the age-old tradition of the Kalinga’s tattoo practice and its visual symbolisms that depict the province’s rituals – from childbirth, adulthood, marriage and death,” Legarda said.
“As the last known mambabatok, I somehow feel wistful that the intricate process of Kalinga’s tattoo tradition might soon be forgotten. I am still hoping that younger generations in Kalinga will take on the responsibility of keeping this custom alive, learn and obtain the skills and expertise of Whang-od, so that this symbolic Filipino art will never have to fade away,“ Legarda added.
Legarda noted how Whang-od has dedicated her whole life to her craft as she continues the art form and stands as its living archive which only she holds memory and mastery of.
“Whang-od is one of the pillars of our vibrant Filipino culture and living traditions. The commitment of individuals like her in cultural preservation leaves a distinct mark in Philippine history, which creates and completes our distinct national identity,“ Legarda said.