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The last Kalinga tattoo artist, Whang Od | DW Documentary



Meet Whang Od. She lives in the Philippines and is the last master of the art of traditional, hand-tapped Filipino tattoos.

Whang Od is 93 and her body is adorned with snakes and millipedes. She is the last practitioner of a very special art form – and all she needs for this art form, are charcoal, water, a dash of sugar cane juice for shine, and the thorns of the orange tree, which she uses as needles. She’s highly sought after by young people around the world. The film accompanies Charly and Egan, two brave young men who have travelled to the remote village Buscalan to meet Whang Od. ‘Some wet their pants because they’re so scared,’ says Whang Od and laughs. Even getting to the village she lives in is a challenge: a narrow path leads through the jungle, deep down into a canyon and finally up into the mountains. ‘You can fly to the Moon, but you can’t build a road to Buscalan,’ say the people in Kalinga province, a region more remote and unexplored than any other in the country. Reporter Philipp Abresch took the trek upon himself – with the help of twenty-five porters.
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40 Comments

  1. This is genuinely very insightful docu. I mean, Whang Od has been the most popular culture practitioner more than anyone due to a number of video contents, travel vlogs, TV documentaries, and magazine show features about her. This one really gets you learn more behind the woman and the art.

  2. One youtuber take advantage for her,, she was used by youtuber ask for contract take advantage of her age and ,,earn money and that guy was from America..

  3. Does the world knows Tatoo originated in Philippines?before Spanish came in Asia ,.Spaniards was so surprised what was on tribe warriors bodies art..
    Tribe warriors before used tattoos as sign of thier bravery, triumph and all the victorious they have are written on thier body by means of tattoo

  4. For all iKALINGA's who joined the comment section, guys check the translation(Kalinga-English) ""IT HAS A LOT OF ERROR""….. pllssssss… do a double check….. just an advice, its better to call someone who resides in the municipality you visited in Kalinga to translate for you because the language in our Province is also called Kalinga but with a lot of variations, unique in each municipality, still some people understand every variation of the language but some also only understands a few. I belong to those who understands a few and guys I AM TELLING YOU THERE'S A LOT OF ERROR IN THE VID. Oh right, our language variations meet using ILOCANO, yes that ilocano of the ILOCO'S.

  5. The cultures of Kalinga is almost similar to the cultures of nocte & wancho of Northeasr part of India.Head hunter & ritual & tattooing too.

  6. I wish cordilla tribes one day science will reveal that we are brother and sister many simalarieties wth naga living in nagaland north east india many proves are there but . But no proper corespodence facilities.

  7. Cordillerans before tribal war is normal for them for they are not civilized yet,that was my great grand father told me when he is still alive. By the way he is also a proud warrior of Ifugao, he served in his village as a head hunter and also a soldier
    who fought during the second world war.

  8. My only dreams is to see apo wang od and to have tattoo by her im hoping to see her but honestly i dont have money to travel to see her. Im hoping my dream come true

  9. Most people aren't aware of,but the fact that they still managed to preserve their culture even up til now is really amazing,they fought the spanish,moving up the mountains constantly bcos of threats,americans with the relentless slaughtering, japanese with more slaughtering,and now the modernity,we should really appreciate and be proud of them who still managed to retain their identity intact unlike most of us Filipinos

  10. It is not "torture" as the guy said, as you willingly accepted to be tattooed, respect her as you are one of the very lucky few touched by her hands….