Honoring The Last Mambabatok

Good news! The petition I've started four months ago is now being supported by more than 3,000 netizens. The petition aims to urge the government, specifically the National Commission for Culture and the Arts of the Philippines (NCCA) to declare Apo Whang-od Oggay as one of our National Artists of the Philippines.

IMAGE www.facebook.com/sonnyangara/

Few days ago, the Senate adopted a resolution nominating Apo Whang-od for the Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan or the National Living Treasures Award, the highest honor given by the state to traditional folk artists. Senators Nancy Binay and Juan Edgardo Angara sponsored the Senate Resolution Nos. 2 and 538, respectively.

The resolution states that the continuity of the batek is anchored on the well-being of Whang-od being the last living mambabatok, which necessitates immediate action to preserve the folk art considering Whang-od's advanced age.

The batek survived centuries of foreign influence. The traditional Filipino tattoo art must not disappear and turn extinct due to mere negligence to preserve a significant feature of Philippine culture and identity.

We, the netizens have been lobbying Apo Whang-od to be one of the National Artists of the Philippines since 2015. Until now, Apo Whang Od haven't received any recognition from the government. Now is the right time to declare her as one of the National Living Treasures.

Apo Whang-od is considered the last mambabatok from the Butbut tribe in Kalinga and is the oldest tattoo artist in the Philippines. 

In 2015, the late Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago urged her colleagues in the Philippine Senate through a resolution that Apo Whang Od should be nominated as one of the National Living Treasures [Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan], who are of equal rank to National Artists. Senator Nancy Binay through a senate resolution in June 2016 enjoined the Philippine senate to nominate Apo Whang Od as a National Living Treasure. Her nomination as National Artist or National Living Treasure has been backed by Senator Loren Legarda. 

Former NCCA chair Felipe de Leon Jr. also expressed his support for Apo Whang-od's nomination and argued that the role of a mambabatok is to become the beacon of togetherness and support of the community. He added that by aiding her community through tattooing tourists, Apo Whang-od is practicing traditional Kalinga means of living and therefore should be eligible for both the National Living Treasure Award and the National Artists Award. 

Me getting inked by the legendary, bad-ass Apo Whang-od

On October 20, Apo Whang-od recently attended the forum “Traditional Aesthetic in Contemporary Times” in Pasay City, showcasing her art that remained constant despite the changing eras. This is the art giving the outsiders a glimpse of the Butbut tradition and a portion of the Filipino identity, transcending the many generations. 

To become a National Artist, one must be an “inhabitant of an indigenous/traditional cultural community anywhere in the Philippines that has preserved indigenous customs, beliefs, rituals and traditions and/or has syncretized whatever external elements that have influenced it.”

The nominee must also practice a folk art tradition that has been in existence and documented for at least 50 years, and must have consistently produced “works of superior and distinctive quality” for a significant period. At the same time, they must also have an established reputation in the art as master, and must pass on their skill to other members of the community. 

If she is declared a National Artist, she will be given a golden medallion, a grant of P100,000, and a monthly stipend of P10,000. They will also be given medical care and hospitalization benefits, as well as funeral assistance. 

Yes, now is the right time! Please sign the petition and share it to your friends! Thank you in advance!☺