Open Access BPO Unveils Marble Bust to Honor Tattoo Artist Apo Whang-Od

JV Razal Published on May 27, 2024

Open Access BPO’s leadership team recently trekked to Buscalan in the Philippines’ Kalinga province to unveil a monumental marble bust in homage to the mambabatok (indigenous tattoo artist) Apo Whang-Od.

Traditional Kalinga dance performed by the Buscalan community as they welcomes members of the Open Access BPO leadership team

The turnover ceremony for the bust commenced on the morning of May 3rd with a traditional pig offering ritual. Later in the afternoon, the leadership team was welcomed with a traditional dance, which CEO Ben Davidowitz participated in.

In his speech, Davidowitz said the bust symbolizes the village’s longevity and the preservation of Apo Whang-Od’s art.

“We would like to make a donation for the village and for Apo Whang-Od that will last forever, in an effort to continue supporting the village and have this statue as a symbol to celebrate the traditional Kalinga tattooing for anyone looking to get inked or has been inked by the last tribal tattoo artist Apo Whang-Od.”

Buscalan Barangay Chair Marcos Goyagoy welcomed his constituents to witness the unveiling of the statue of their beloved mambabatok. Afterward, Apo Whang-Od showed her brightest smile as she gave a thanksgiving song.

Following the unveiling of the bust, the villagers and the Open Access BPO leadership team shared a feast that included the pig offerings from earlier.

The Inspiration Behind the Statue

Apo Whang-Od with Her Red Marble Bust from Open Access BPOApo Whang-Od poses with the red marble bust presented to her by Open Access BPO’s leadership team

The meticulously crafted bust weighs 1,450 kilograms and is made from a locally quarried type of red marble called Rojo Cebuano.

Davidowitz explains that Apo Whang-Od put Buscalan on the map, with around 3,000 visitors drawn weekly by her legendary status. He describes her as a living hero whose artistry and cultural significance warrant a succession plan that benefits both her and the village.

Open Access BPO CEO Ben Davidowitz and Apo Whang-Od

“The visitors will have this incredible statue to make memories with while on top of the mountain. In the long term, it will support her legacy, which we hope will add value to people’s experience when they visit.”

The unveiling of the bust marks the second time Open Access BPO’s leadership team has visited Buscalan and Apo Whang-Od. The first visit was in February last year when they joined Apo Whang-Od for her birthday and presented her with a plaque and gifts.

Davidowitz says he finds the natural interactions of people in Buscalan inspirational. Since the village is surrounded by mountains, people don’t usually rely on technology to connect with one another. He adds that Apo Whang-Od’s decades-long mastery of her craft is worth paying homage to.

“Just being in her presence gives you a sense of peace, love, and kindness. Fear is non-existent. While there, she also sang a cultural song in her dialect. Her voice was beautiful, and many of us were struck by her singing,” he adds.

The Open Access BPO leadership team poses in front of Apo Whang-Od's bust

He then opines that Open Access BPO can learn from Buscalan’s harmonious way of life. He observed the locals enjoying life, spreading kindness, and being respectful towards one another.

“It’s the type of place you visit where your humanity and basic interest in the well-being of others are enriched and tested. This is what inspired the idea of the statue.”

This heartfelt tribute by Open Access BPO not only honors Apo Whang-Od’s legacy but also signifies a commitment to cultural preservation. As visitors continue to be drawn to Buscalan by the enduring artistry of the remarkable mambabatok, the bust stands as a testament to a culture’s heritage, sure to inspire generations to come.

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JV is an experienced content specialist having written in both media intelligence and SEO industries, with a particular focus on interactive media and esports. He now takes his writing chops to create blogs related to Open Access BPO's services, culture, and events.
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