Kalinga women ask: Do our tattoos make us criminals?

BAYOMBONG, Nueva Vizcaya—A woman from Tabuk, Kalinga who is a leading figure in promoting tourism here reacted to a much-publicized remark of Senator Antonio Trillanes on having a tattoo.

“Senator Trillanes, here’s a sample of the Kalinga Triad of Tattooed Women. Marked as Criminals or Beauty?” posted Naty Sugguiyao on her Facebook account.

“To be tattooed is a personal decision, and I have a choice to keep the reasons for being tattooed public or private, and I don’t want to reinforce the stigma attached to it, that of criminality,” she added in another post.

Senator Antonio Trillanes

Sugguiyao was reacting to a viral topic on social media—the request of Senator Trillanes to Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte to show his tattoo during a Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing, in a bid to prove Duterte’s links to the Chinese Triad drug gang.

The women of Kalinga have tattoos as a customary practice. The centenarian tattoo artist Whang-od earned international fame for her craft, making her one of the most visited figures in the province.

Contrary to what was said on social media, Whang-od is not the last Kalinga woman who practices “batok” tattooing, as there are many others in the province, but she is the oldest and is being groomed to become a National Artist. 

Topics: Senator Antonio Trillanes , Naty Sugguiyao , Tattoo
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