Deep in the heart of Kalinga in the Philippines lies a unique form of tattoo art. One that has been passed down from generations within the same lineage. A dying art form that has long been practiced but has only just recently garnered the attention of foreign interests. These tattoo designs are unique to their people and cannot be seen in places like Manchester, NH
or anywhere else in the world for that matter. Since its recognition, there has been an influx of foreign and domestic visitors who willingly journey to their remote village — clinging on to dear life as they ride jeepneys that travel on top speeds through hairpin turns. Also experiencing the repetitively ascending and descending rough mountain terrain, all while risking potential altitude sickness, just to experience this dying art firsthand with one of the last true masters of the craft before it fades into the pages of history.
Her name is Wang-od Oggay, a member of the Butbut tribe and the last master manwhatok or hand tap tattoo artist of her kind. She lives in a remote village in Buscalan, a town situated just east of Tabuk, Kalinga, the province’s capital. Her father and uncle both served as the tribe’s tattoo artists, tapping on to virgin skin, decorating their warriors with symbols of bravery and marking the women with symbols of beauty and fertility. As a young girl, she understood what those tattoos meant for women. So, she got a ladder and a python tapped on to her skin. They never really meant anything other than the fact that she got it to make her feel one with the rest of the women in the village. She never imagined herself doing hand tap tattoos.
Interested to know more about the Legendary Wang-od? The Last Living Manwhatok