Whang Od Is the Oldest Known Female Tattooist in the Philippines

Whang Od may be the last living tribal tattoo artist in the Philippines.

To make the tattoos, the 93-year-old artist uses an ancient backhand tapping method known as Kalinga.

What started out as a way to fit in with her friends, and as a culture of exchange, tattoos have become a way of life. Out of necessity, she tattoos people, mostly westerners who travel from far and wide, and uses the money to purchase pigs and hens to feed her village.

“If you haven’t got a tattoo you aren’t a true warrior,” she says.

When she dies, there will not be anyone to carry out the 100-year-old tradition. That is why she plans to educate her sister’s granddaughter on how to keep the meaningful practice alive. 

If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind tattoo, you may just want to make the treacherous journey out to Buscalan, a hidden village in a mountains of Luzon island, and visit Whang Od.


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