The Great Big Story Features Apo Whang-od In New Video

The Great Big Story (GBS), a New York-based media company, featured Apo Whang-od Oggay in a new video, saying, "people travel from all over the world to get marked by the master." 

"At 101, Whang-od is the last remaining manbabatok -- a tattoo artist in the Philippines using traditional hand-tap methods," GBS captioned to their Facebook post on September 25.


The video is a little over two minutes long. However, it showcases Apo Whang-od's tattooing process and a short introduction about her and why she's so special among travelers around the world.

"In the village of Buscalan, lives a woman who is the last of her kind," the video starts, fitting a description for the living legend. It is noted that the traditional hand-tap method was originally meant for the warriors.

“To apply a tattoo, you first need to get a coal, thorns, and then wipes. The hammer I use is from a coffee tree. The thorn I use is from calamansi or pomelo fruit trees," Apo Whang-od shares on the video.

Meanwhile, Apo Whang-od ended the interview, saying, "this traditional tattoo will last forever".

In June, Apo Whang-od was awarded the Dangal ng Haraya by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).

According to the NCCA, the Dangal ng Haraya is given to living Filipino artists, cultural workers and historians; artistic or cultural groups, historical societies, institutions, foundations and councils, to recognize their outstanding achievements in relevant fields that have made an impact and significant contribution to Philippine culture and arts.

As of this writing, the GBS's Facebook video had almost half million views.

By the way, I've started a petition online to declare Apo Whang-od as one of our National Living Treasures. You can sign the petition HERE.

Boracay To Reopen On October 26th

After shuttering the Boracay Island for six months, the Department of Tourism (DOT) confirmed that the island is set to open on October 26th, saying, "a better and more sustainable Boracay is set to welcome back visitors."

"October is only a soft opening... we are managing expectations. It will be open but don't expect all the roads to be completed," DOT Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat told Philippine Daily Inquirer.


The DOT chief added that five thousand hotel rooms will be ready by October 26 but overall, Boracay isn't expected to fully be rehabilitated until the end of 2019. The "no drinking or smoking" rule for white beaches will be more strictly enforced, and no casinos will be allowed on the island, despite earlier reports.

It is expected that the famous "LaBoracay" Labor Day weekend celebrations that drew 60,000 to 70,000 visitors to the island each year won't fly anymore, per the Philippine Inquirer report.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Undersecretary Benny Antiporda says that as of today, 78 establishments have secured Environmental Compliance Certificate. The certificate serves as a requirement for establishment to operate come reopening day.

Owners of the compliant hotels, resort, and other establishments say they are more than excited to reopen. In fact, some of them have already accepted bookings for October 26 and beyond.

Meanwhile, Antiporda is confident that the rehabilitation efforts on the island's main road will be completed in time for the soft opening. However, he admitted that a lot of work still has to be done beyond deadline.

"The problem with Boracay is that it was called a cesspool. We are happy to say that we have solved the problem. Boracay is now very clean," DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu told the press during the Inter-Agency Task Force meeting today, September 28, in Boracay.

Some tourists may be able to relax and enjoy Boracay earlier than the formal opening on October 26. According to Cimatu, the inter-agency task force will hold a dry run from October 15 to 25 for local tourists. Local tourists from Aklan will be prioritized for the soft-opening.

Boracay has been voted the world's best island by Conde Nast Traveler in 2017.

DFA Shortens Passport Releasing Period

The long wait is over!

Starting next month, applicants will no longer wait for almost a month to receive their passports. The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) announced today that passports will be released as early as six working days.


"We made a promise to the President and to our kababayan that we will work hard to give them fast, efficient, and secure passport services. Shortening the length of time our kababayan would have to wait before they could receive their passports is part of that promise," Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter S. Cayetano said in a statement. He is currently attending the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

Beginning Monday, October 1st, applicants at DFA Consular Offices in Metro Manila who pay the regular processing fee of Php 950 can receive their passports after 12 working days instead of 15 working days. On the other hand, applicants who pay the express processing fee of Php 1,200 can receive their passports after six working days instead of seven working days.

IMAGE: https://dfa.gov.ph

Meanwhile, applicants in DFA Consular Offices outside Metro Manila can receive their passports after 12 working days instead of 20 working days for regular processing and seven working days instead of 10 working days for applicants who pay the expedited processing fee.

"Providing better passport services is the heart of our work at the DFA," Cayetano said. He assured the public that the agency will continue to work hard to further improve the delivery of passport services. 

It is noted that in May 2017, the agency processes 9,500 passports daily. Cayetano said that they have increased their capacity to almost 20,000 passports a day and is hoping to increase this number to 30,000 by the end of the year.

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