MANILA, Philippines – New Era Cap Philippines has released a line featuring the designs of Apo Whang-od Oggay, known as the oldest living traditional Kalinga tattoo artist.
The line, featured on the brand’s website, includes caps, a bucket hat, and a shirt printed with various symbols featured in Whang-od’s tattoo art.
Prices for the items range from P2,095 to P2,695.
New Era posted about the Whang-od line on social media. In their post they said that they “secured all the legal matters before proceeding.”
They did not clarify what “legal matters” they “secured,” or if they had paid for the rights to print Whang-od’s work on their merchandise, but the brand said that it is part of their brand values to “support Filipino artists through collaboration.”
“And by supporting, we meant in all aspects,” they said.
In June 2018, Whang-od was awarded the Dangal ng Haraya Award for Intangible Cultural Heritage by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.
The award is given to living Filipino artists, cultural workers, historians, and other groups that have made a significant contribution to Philippine culture and arts.
Whang-od, who lives in the remote town of Buscalan in Kalinga, began tattooing when she was 15 years old, learning the craft from her mambabatok father. She traditionally tattooed warriors from their tribe who earned their marks – but later, after she was featured in the documentary Tattoo Hunter by Lars Krutak, she applied her craft to tourists who sought her out and visited her town. (READ: Indelible moments with Whang-od, a living legend)
She was at the center of controversy in October 2017, when she was brought to Manila by organizers of the trade fair Manila FAME.
Over the first two days of the event, Whang-od and her group did about 300 live tattoo sessions, which prompted people to say that she was being exploited. (READ: Whang-od at Manila FAME: Marginal notes on a damaged culture)
In response, the organizers said that their intention was not to exploit Whang-od, but to showcase her craft. They also said that they did not get a cent from her earnings during the fair. – Rappler.com