Apo Whang-Od, the oldest living mambabatok, is not eligible to receive the National Artist Award.
According to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, the traditional tattoo artist is not qualified because her artistic field aligns more with the Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan (GAMABA).
Whang-Od is Not Eligible for the National Artist Award – Here’s Why
Here’s the reason why Whang-Od is not eligible for the National Artist Award
WHANG-OD – NCCA Chairman Victorino Manalo explained why the oldest living mambabatok is not eligible for the National Artist Award
The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) has announced the opening of nominations for the Order of National Artist (ONA), which recognizes individuals who have significantly contributed to the development of Philippine arts and letters. Among the names that have been advocated for the National Artist award is Apo Whang-Od, a renowned tattoo artist known as the oldest living practitioner of the traditional Kalinga tattooing method. However, the NCCA has clarified that Whang-Od is not eligible for the National Artist award due to specific reasons.
NCCA Chairman Victorino Manalo explained that Whang-Od’s artistic field aligns more with the Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan (GAMABA), also known as the National Living Treasures Award, which recognizes contributions to the country’s cultural heritage. According to Manalo, there has been a discussion about Whang-Od’s eligibility for the National Artist award, but a decision has been made not to confer it upon her.
The debate surrounding Whang-Od’s eligibility centers on the fact that her traditional tattooing is considered under GAMABA, while the National Artist Award has specific categories such as Dance, Music, Theater, Visual Arts, Literature, Film and Broadcast Arts, Architecture and Allied Arts, and Design. Advocates argue that Whang-Od’s work falls under the Visual Arts category, but the NCCA maintains that her craft doesn’t fit the qualifications for a National Artist.
Despite not being eligible for the National Artist award, the 106-year-old tattoo artist is currently a nominee for GAMABA, with ongoing deliberations. The NCCA acknowledges her significant contributions to society and has previously honored her with the Dangal ng Haraya Award and the HIYAS Award for Indigenous Art. Critics have raised concerns about gender bias in the selection process for the National Artist award, but the NCCA contends that the selection is based on the body of work and its national importance, irrespective of gender.