Viral picture explained too: Trade fair organizers deny exploiting, profiting off Whang-od

Image from Winky Scott's Facebook account
  • FAME Manila organizers denied profiting off Kalinga tribal tattoo artist
  • CITEM exec said that Whang-od herself wanted to do tattoos
  • He also explained viral picture of sleeping Whang-od, said it was taken when she was bored

MANILA, Philippines – Organizers of the Manila FAME trade fair denied exploiting or profiting off Apo Whang-od amid accusations they turned Kalinga’s last living tribal tattoo artist into a commercial commodity.

According to Clayton Tugonon, executive director of Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM), not a single cent from the estimated P800,000 earned from the two-day trade fair will go to them.

He also explained that Whang-od herself wanted to do as many tattoos as possible even though they brought her to the fair primarily just to demonstrate her skills and accept a nomination for a national award.

“In the first place, Whang-Od was brought here so that we can show her craft at the same time ‘yung sa [for the] first night, ‘yung nomination niya sa [to accept her nomination for the] GAMABA (Gawad sa Manglilikha ng Bayan) which was accepted in a ceremonial acceptance by the NCAA,” he told GMA News.

“Pero ang gusto niya talagang magta-tattoo siya,” he continued. “In fact, ayaw niya munang kumain kasi magta-tattoo daw, kasi pumunta raw siya dito kasi para maraming matattoohan, gusto niya, wala kaming magawa eh.”

[But what she really wanted was to do tattoos. In fact, she didn’t want to eat first because she wanted to do tattoos right away, she said she went here to do many tattoos, she wanted it, we couldn’t do anything.]

Tugonon also explained the viral picture of a seemingly tired Whang-od during a press conference, saying she was just bored waiting for her turn to speak.

“Na-bo-bored siya sa isang taga NCIP (National Commission on Indigenous Peoples), kasi siya ‘yung parang moderator. Parang inaantok si Whang-od kasi mas maraming sinabi yung babaeng taga-NCIP because supposedly ang mangyari doon sana, Whang-od will talk about the how the tattoo of Kalinga came about,” he said. “Ang problema yung taga-NCIP, mas marami siyang sinabi tungkol sa sarili niya na tattoohan niya, kaysa kay Apo Whang-od. Si Apo inaantok, natulog, na-picture-an.”

[She was bored with someone from the NCIP, because she was the one acting as the moderation. Whang-od was feeling sleepy because the woman from the NCIP was talking too much because what would’ve happened supposedly, was that Whang-od will talk about how the tattoo of Kalinga came about. The problem is that the woman from NCIP, she was talking too much about herself and her plan to get a tattoo, than about Whang-od. Apo became sleepy, slept, and was pictured.]