This 103-year-old woman named Whang Od Oggay is the oldest traditional tattoo artist in the Philippines. Whang Od lives in Kalinga province located in the mountainous area in the northern Philippines and is the last mambabatok—a traditional Kalinga tattooist. This tattoo artist is a well-known master not only in the Philippines, but in other countries as well—every day, people from all around the world come here to get a tattoo from the legend herself. And in fact, their journey is far from a short one. Tourists and other visitors have to make a 15-hour drive north of Manila to the mountain village of Buscalan, which is only accessible by hiking from the nearest dirt road through a forest and rice terraces.
When this Kalinga tattoo tradition first came about, they were only given to men who had killed someone in a battle. Fast forward to now—these pieces of art are available to everyone who manages to get here.
A woman name Rajayana Librojo Fajatin had a chance to get a tattoo from Whang Od a year ago. “I had a 4-day trip going from Baguio to Sagada to Buscalan, where the village of Whang Od is. The villagers were friendly, and I had fun, especially with the kids. They dance to modern hits from a phone there. They respect their elders so much,” Rajayana told Bored Panda.
When asked, how she decided to get a tattoo from Whang Od, the woman told us this: “She’s been famous since I was little, but my decision of getting a tattoo from her was impulsive. I was in Baguio and I decided to go all the way up north to get to her since she’s pretty old already. But still very healthy. I got a serpent eagle tattoo on my shoulder because I wanted spiritual guidance at the time.”