WATCH: #WhileImHere Video of Apo Whang-Od Tells Back Story of Tattoo-Making

Dubbed as the “Last Mambabatok” or traditional Kalinga tattooist, we all have heard of Apo Whang-Od.

At an estimated age of 99, she is considered the oldest tattoo artist in the Philippines (and possibly, the whole world).

She is from the Butbut tribe in Buscalan, Kalinga.

Most of us know that her tattoo ink is a mixture of water and charcoal. It is tapped into the skin using the thorny end of a branch from a calamansi or pomelo tree.

However, do you know what’s their tattooing symbolize? Also, do you know of her legacy that she’ll leave behind someday?

Brent Foster created a video profile of Apo Whang-Od as part of his #WhileHere series.

In this video, the back story about the tattoo-making in the Butbut tribe was revealed. It also showed to whom Apo Whang-Od is leaving her legacy behind.


The Last Mambabatok from Brent Foster on Vimeo.

Here’s the reason behind the While I’m Here project:

While I’m Here | The Legacy Project is a series of videos that profile amazing everyday people, while they’re still here.

I decided to start this project after missing out on the chance to tell the story of a man from my hometown who dedicated his life to helping others. That man’s name was Frank Dymock. For years, Frank opened his garage to the public and sharpened skates free of charge. He wouldn’t accept a dime. He was an icon in the place where I grew up, and I always wanted to tell his story while he was still here.

Regretfully, I let time pass, and Frank passed away before I had the chance to tell his story. This project is dedicated to him and to countless others who live selflessly and truly leave a legacy, forever impacting the lives of the people lucky enough to cross their paths.

Learn more about the project and see all four stories at:

You watch here the BTS of this video.