Sacrificed Lives and a Culturally-Relevant Discovery

2014 Florida Bus Crash 1

A bittersweet thing that came out of the Florida Bus Crash last Friday, February 7, 2014 is that more people (including me) now know about Whang-Od, the last tattoo artist from Kalinga. She’s 93 years old. Many of the passengers were on that trip to visit her and her tribe.

The Beautiful Whang-Od

The Beautiful Whang-Od. Photo by Jake Versoza.

Prior to the accident, it seems that only tattoo enthusiasts and bonafide adventurers knew about Whang-Od. Now, people know more about her. That’s the good thing. But it also took a fatal accident to get her name more out there. 15 artists had to die to make one artist more known to her own fellow Filipinos. That’s the sad thing.

I read an article and watched a short documentary on Whang-Od  and the traditional tattoo-making method. She makes the tattoo using a couple of wooden sticks, a small nail and sweet potato ink, with no anesthesia. It looks really painful but interesting. I used to want to get a tattoo for vanity reasons, but I like how my bare skin looks now.

Now that more people here in the Philippines know about Whang-Od, I hope more people would take the opportunity to visit the Kalinga tribe and get a tattoo from her. I think those who died in the accident would want us to continue their journey.

I hope that our Philippine government and private bus companies improve road safety drastically here, because we can’t afford this to happen again. We cannot stop adventurers from being adventurers because of such mishaps that could have been prevented through good and strict public transport governance. We have to make sure that our transport system is safe so that people continue living, discovering and savoring our culture.

That way we can start having a lot #morefuninthePhilippines.

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