Senate passed resolution nominating Whang-od as National Living Treasure 

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  • A resolution was passed nominating Whang-od Oggay as the National Living Treasure 
  • Whang-od is the only surviving “mambabatok” or traditional Kalinga tattoo artist or a master tattooist of “batek” in the country
  • GAMABA or the National Living Treasures Award gives recognition to Filipino traditional folk artists for their contribution to the national heritage

A resolution nominating Whang-od Oggay, the traditional Filipino artist, as the National Living Treasure or Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan (GAMABA), was passed without objections by the Senate on Tuesday, February 27.

It was a consolidation of Nancy Binay’s Resolution No. 2 and Senator Sonny Angara’s Resolution No. 538 in an objective to foster and preserve the the traditional Kalinga tattoo art.

Binay said in a statement: “Bestowing Whang-od the GAMABA or the National Living Treasures award does not only recognize the beauty and grace of the ancient art of tattooing, but also ensures that such Filipino heritage will survive and continue to exist.”

She added that the contribution of Whang-od Oggay a.k.a Maria Oggay to her native craft as the  last mambabatok of her generation should be recognized.

The resolution said that Whang-od is the only surviving “mambabatok” or traditional Kalinga tattoo artist or a master tattooist of “batek”, or the folk skin inscriptions of Kalinga.

“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.”

“Whang-od Oggay was renowned for her batek which she started practicing since her childhood years. She tattooed countless warriors and head-hunters of her tribe that has now garnered both local and international recognition and reverence,” said Angara.

“It is only proper to nominate Whang-od for the GAMABA or the National Living Treasures Award for her exceptional embodiment of the Filipino’s rich heritage, not only to honor her and similar individuals who contribute and enrich the Filipino cultural identity and history, but also to preserve and to further promote traditional folk arts for the benefit of future generations,” Angara added.

The GAMABA or the National Living Treasures Award is the highest honor given by the state to traditional folk artists in recognition “for their contribution to the national heritage through awards, grants, and other forms of recognition.”. It was institutionalized in April 1992 through Republic Act No. 7355.

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