Whang-Od was the reason we endured two days driving to barangay Buscalan in Kalinga. She's 94 years old, a national treasure of sorts, and the oldest surviving mambabatok (tattoo artist) in that province. She's also a living canvas: on her arms and shoulders are the obras of artists past, inscribed for life and for all to see, for as long as she remains in the land of the living.
We're not the only ones who thought the trip was worthwhile. We arrived to find five tourists queued before us, all waiting for a Whang-Od original. And on her bedroom wall, we found a plethora of pictures and letters from happy customers all over the world. This lady is amazing. We thought she single-handedly put this sleepy village on the global tattoo map. We hope her niece Gessel (Grace) continues in her footsteps, to keep the stream of tourist flowing, and keep the craft of the Kalinga mambabatok alive. Enjoy.
(Pixel-peepers: She's a busy woman. By the time she's ready to have her photograph taken, the harsh mid-day sun was upon us. Not to fear. Sit her under a big tree, or behind the shade of her home. The naturally harsh light will become directional and pleasing. Then shoot away!)