Home 106-Year-Old Filipino Tattoo Artist Becomes Vogue’s Oldest Cover Model in History

106-Year-Old Filipino Tattoo Artist Becomes Vogue’s Oldest Cover Model in History

106 year old filipino tattoo artist apo whang od becomes vogues oldest cover model

MANILA, PHILIPPINES — In a historic move, Vogue Philippines has featured 106-year-old tattoo artist Apo Whang-Od on the cover of its April issue, making her the oldest person ever to grace the magazine’s cover. 

The Filipino artist, also known as Maria Oggay, has been practicing the art of hand-tapped tattoos since she was a teenager, learning from her father.

Whang-Od resides in the mountain village of Buscalan in Kalinga province, where she is considered the country’s oldest mambabatok, or traditional Kalinga tattooist. She creates her signature geometric designs using only a bamboo stick, a thorn from a pomelo tree, water, and coal.

The tattoos that Whang-Od creates were once earned by indigenous Butbut warriors, but now international visitors seeking her art make up much of her clientele. 

The Last Mambabatok of Her Generation

Vogue Philippines praised Apo Whang-Od as “the last mambabatok of her generation,” who has “imprinted the symbols of the Kalinga tribe—signifying strength, bravery, and beauty—on the skin of thousands of people who have made the pilgrimage to Buscalan.”

“As the first and only female mambabatok of her time, Whang-Od would travel to distant and neighboring villages, summoned by host communities to imprint the sacred symbols of their ancestors on individuals who had crossed or were about to cross a threshold in their lives,” according to the magazine.

I’m the only one left alive who still tattoos. But I’m not worried about the tradition dying because I’m training the next generation of tattoo artists.” Apo Whang-Od told CNN Travel about the significance of maintaining Kalinga tattoo artistry practices.

She has been instructing her grandnieces Grace Palicas and Elyang Wigan in making tattoos out of bamboo sticks, water, and coal for a number of years. Whang-od is instructing the subsequent generation in the same manner that her father instructed her since the art can only be passed down through blood relations.

Whang-Od’s appearance on the cover of Vogue Philippines celebrates her artistry, her dedication to preserving her culture’s traditions, and her role as a cultural icon in the Philippines. – WhatALife!/Jayve

Sources: (1)(2)

Also read: Vogue Philippines unveils long-awaited maiden issue

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