Vogue’s ‘Oldest Cover Model’ 106-Year-Old Filipino Woman

Seema Rai
Seema Rai

A 106-year-old tattoo artist from the Philippines named Apo Whang-Od. The oldest person to ever grace the cover of Vogue with the publication of the magazine’s April issue. Whang-Od, also known as Maria Oggay. She has been honing the craft of hand-tapping tattoos while receiving lessons from her father.


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She is regarded as the nation’s oldest mambabatok or traditional Kalinga tattoo artist. And resides in the mountain village of Buscalan in Kalinga province, about 15 hours north of Manila. Indigenous The hand-tapped tattoos were once only awarded to Butbut warriors.

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The History behind it all: Hand-tapped tattoos

Now, Whang-Od just uses a bamboo stick, a thorn from a pomelo tree, water, and coal to create the tattoos. Nowadays, a large portion of her clientele consists of foreign travelers looking for her distinctive geometric designs.

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The Kalinga tribe’s insignia, which stands for beauty, bravery, and strength, have been inscribed on the skin of hundreds of visitors to Buscalan, according to a post on social media by Vogue Philippines. Only blood relatives may receive the technique, and Whang Od has been teaching her grandnieces Elyang Wigan and Grace Palicas for a while.

The Idea behind putting Whang-Od on Vogue Cover

Whang Od told CNN Travel in an interview, “My mates who gave tattoos have all passed away.” She’s the only person still alive who is still tattooing. Although I’m preparing the upcoming tattoo artists, I’m not concerned that the tradition will disappear.


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Bea Valdes, editor-in-chief of Vogue Philippines, reported that Whang-Od should appear on the cover following a unanimous decision by team members. “We believed she embodied everything admirable about Filipino culture. We believe that the definition of beauty needs to be altered to include a wide range of inclusive faces and forms. What we want to talk about is the beauty of humanity.

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