Whang-Od’s grandniece: ‘Stop the negativity’

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The oldest 'mambabatok' or traditional Kalinga tattooist Whang-Od, also known as Maria Oggay, applies the traditional tattoo technique on one of the visitors of the recently concluded Manila FAME. Screen grab from News5 video footage.

Grace Palicas, Whang-Od Oggay’s grandniece and successor in continuing the “pagbabatok” tattoo tradition has issued statement via Facebook on the centenarian tattoo artists’ participation at the recently held Manila FAME.

Palicas called for those concerned to “stop the negativity.” She said that it was them who wanted to to do the tattooing, and further clarified that the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM) did not make any money out of them.

“Sa mga concerns about sa pagbaba namin ng Maynila kasama si apo Whang-od Oggay gusto ko po sabihin na may kontratang pinirmahan namin. May talent fee po na natanggap namin. At kagustuhan po naming magtattoo sa event.

Kung ang alam niyo po ay kinuha ng CITEM yung mga bayad ng tattooes namin ay hindi po. Sa amin po lahat napunta ang mga yun. Kung patuloy po ang issues na ito ay parang pinagmukha niyo rin po kaming tanga. Kaya, please #StopTheNegativity,” she said.

Whang-Od and Palicas together with Ilyang Wagan were featured at Manila FAME, a design and lifestyle event initiative of CITEM, the export promotions agency of the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry to pay homage to Kalinga’s heritage tattoo practice, the “pagbabatok.

(Read: From tattoos to motorbikes: 10 design-forward presentations at the 66th Manila FAME)

Throughout the three-day event, Whang-Od, Palicas, and Wagan inked some of the event’s participants, which drew mixed reactions from netizens over the last weekend.

(Read: WATCH | Manila FAME issues statement on Apo Whang-Od ‘exploitation’ issue)

Manila FAME later on issued a statement saying that the CITEM ensured the safety of Whang-Od before flying in to Manila, during the three-day event, and back in Kalinga.

CITEM also stated that all proceeds from the tattoo of Whang-Od and her successors during the event were completely handled by the Kalinga elders.