At a remarkable 106 years old, Apo Whang-Od has achieved an incredible milestone, becoming the oldest person to ever grace the cover of Vogue magazine. As a renowned tattoo artist from the Philippines, Whang-Od has spent the better part of eight decades practicing the traditional art of batok, a significant part of the cultural heritage of the Kalinga tribe.
Whang-Od, also known as “The Last Mambabatok,” has garnered a great deal of attention in recent years for her exceptional talent, cultural significance, and tireless dedication to preserving the tradition of batok. Her intricate and stunning designs, which are created by tapping a thorn into the skin, have become emblematic of the rich cultural heritage of the Kalinga people.
Despite her age, Whang-Od continues to travel across the Philippines to showcase her work and inspire others to appreciate the importance of preserving cultural traditions. Her commitment to batok has earned her numerous accolades, including the title of National Living Treasure, a recognition awarded by the Philippine government to individuals who have made significant contributions to the country’s cultural heritage.
By featuring Apo Whang-Od on its cover, Vogue has not only celebrated her extraordinary talent but also recognized the importance of honoring our elders and preserving the cultural traditions that have shaped us. In doing so, the magazine has provided a platform for Whang-Od to share her story and inspire a new generation to appreciate the beauty and significance of batok.