Monday, August 15, 2016

Bid To Declare Kalinga Tattoo Artist Whang-od As A National Artist Gains Momentum

There's a good chance that the traditional Kalinga tattoo artist Whang-od will be awarded the distinction of being a National Living Treasure anytime soon. According to the Philippine Information Agency, representatives from the National Commission on Culture and the Arts will be conducting a review of Whang-od and her art to determine if she is deserving of the award. After validation, the nomination to include Whang-od in the country's growing list of recipients of the National Living Treasures Award will be forwarded to President Rodrigo Duterte for final approval. 

Who is Whang-od and why does she matter?
Born and raised in the village of Buscalan in Tinglayan, Kalinga, Whang-od is a tattoo artist who employs a traditional style in her craft. Her tattoo ink is a mixture of charcoal, ash, and water. And instead of a metal tattoo needle, she makes use of a thorn plucked from either a calamansi or pomelo tree. For the last few years, local and foreign tattoo enthusiasts have been traveling all the way to Kalinga to be inked by the grizzled 97-year-old artist. She has also been featured in various television shows, newspapers, and travel magazines. Just recently, Whang-od was prominently featured in an art exhibit held at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada. Whang-od is widely considered as among the very few people left who can still apply traditional Kalinga tattooing techniques. The good news is that Whang-od has been teaching her unique craft to young people in her village.

The road to being recognized as a national artist.
The campaign to have Whang-od recognized as a national artist took root sometime in 2015. An online petition was started and thousands of people signed to signal their support. The petition gained more traction when Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago filed a resolution urging the Senate to nominate Whang-od and Ligaya Fernando Amilbangsa as national living treasures.

The perks of being declared a National Living Treasure
Aside from being recognized as national artists and getting additional exposure to their works, recipients of the award will be given a customized golden medallion, an initial grant of 100,000 pesos, and a monthly stipend of 10,000 pesos for the rest of their lives. The awardees will also be receiving medical and hospitalization benefits and funeral assistance.
Whang-od gracing the cover of a travel magazine last year.
What are the requirements/qualifications in becoming a National Living Treasure?
The NCCA states that the nominee should possess the following attributes.
a. He/she is 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.
b. He/she must have engaged in a folk art tradition that has been in existence and documented for at least fifty (50) years.
c. He/she must have consistently performed or produced over a significant period, works of superior and distinctive quality.
d. He/she must possess a mastery of tools and materials needed by the art, and must have an established reputation in the art as master and maker of works of extraordinary technical quality.
e. He/she must have passed on and/or will pass on to other members of the community their skills in the folk art for which the community is traditionally known.