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HomeFashionPhilippine Tattoo Icon Whang-Od Receives Presidential Medal of Merit

Philippine Tattoo Icon Whang-Od Receives Presidential Medal of Merit

In a prestigious ceremony held in Manila on February 14, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. honored the legendary Kalinga tattoo artist, 106-year-old Apo Whang-Od, with the Presidential Medal of Merit.

Recognizing her as a trailblazer in breaking through the barriers of gender norms, Marcos highlighted her journey into the world of tattooing, traditionally dominated by men. “She is a pioneer in shattering gender stereotypes, venturing into tattooing when it was just a man’s exclusive preserve,” he stated. Marcos further praised Whang-Od for her role in preserving oral traditions and her dedication to passing on her skills to the next generation of artists, thereby ensuring the continuity and celebration of her community’s historical narratives.

Marcos lauded Whang-Od’s influence, noting, “As Apo Whang-Od’s works appeal to diverse cultures and across political divides, she becomes an enabler for unity and an example of an idea that binds us all. She is truly a national treasure.”

Whang-Od’s journey as a tattoo artist began when she was just 15 years old. She is celebrated as the last mambabatok, a practitioner of the ancient art of tattooing using a thorn and bamboo sticks to etch tribal designs.

The Presidential Medal of Merit is awarded under Executive Order No. 236 to individuals who have significantly contributed in various fields including literature, science, arts, entertainment, and other areas that elevate national pride and artistic achievements. It also honors those who have provided exceptional service to the presidency, the administration, Cabinet members, or have significantly promoted Philippine culture, both locally and internationally.

The award ceremony not only recognized Whang-Od but also celebrated several government employees who were recipients of the Dangal ng Bayan, Presidential Lingkod Bayan, and CSC (Civil Service Commission) Pag-asa awards, acknowledging their dedicated service and contributions to the nation.

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