Lifestyle

Online Debate Rages On About Whang-Od at Manila FAME

People had a lot to say on both sides of the issue.
IMAGE CC BY-SA 4.0 Mawg64 (Wikimedia Commons)
ILLUSTRATOR Jasrellle Serrano
Comments

The bi-annual Manila Furnishings And Apparel Manufacturing Exchange (FAME) trade event has been going on for over 30 years, and it's usually a quiet affair that generates little by way of news and controversy. Not this year, though.

The apparently well-meaning organizers brought the venerable tattoo artist Whang-Od Oggay to the event floor to demonstrate the traditional practice of hand-tapping ink designs in front of an audience. (This also provided the opportunity for the lady to fulfill her wish of meeting actor Coco Martin, star of her favorite TV series, Ang Probinsyano.)

Panuorin kung gaano kasaya si @mr.cocomartin sa pagkikita nila ni #ApoWhangOd. #TattoONaTo #CocoMartin #B617

A post shared by Coco Martin PH (@cocomartin_ph) on

However, the apo's first trip to Manila was not to end without controversy. Though Whang-Od was flown back home via military chopper on Sunday, debate continued to rage on about her appearance at the event, which many questioning whether her treatment there constituted exploitation.

It started with a post from travel blogger Winky Scott Laagan, of Whang-Od dozing off at a conference attached to the event:

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

Captioned "NO TO APO EXPLOITATION," the post managed to earn over 77K reactions, and was shared over 35K times. At first, there was near-universal outrage:

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

Soon, other responses emerged. Nash Tysmans posted about cultural commodification:

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

Travel writer Nina Unlay, who had authored a piece called "Whang-Od Loves Coco Martin," pointed out that, "it's nice to see people discuss Whang Od passionately, but it's also very disturbing to see how often we claim to speak on her behalf":

Thankfully, makeup artist Xeng Zulueta, who says she was able to get audience with Whang-Od, had a first-person account:

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

The Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions, which organizes Manila FAME, also came out with a statement to address the issue. “Apo Whang-Od’s participation in Manila FAME was a tremendous collaborative effort of various government agencies. These include the Philippine Air Force, Philippine Army who ensured her safety prior to and during her travel to Manila and back,” said CITEM Executive Director Clayton Tugonon. “Whang-Od’s comprehensive care prior to and throughout her participation and travel back to Kalinga was done by a dedicated medical team lead by Dr. Miguel Ramos, head of the Department of Health’s National Geriatric Hospital, Geriatric Medicine consultant of the Jose R. Reyes Memorial Medical Center, National Center for Geriatric Health, and St. Luke’s Medical Center Security.”

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

The statement also quotes Tugonon as saying that "the invitation of Apo Whang-Od was sought through proper channels which include the Kalinga community of elders (Whang-Od included), National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, concerned local government units, Department of Tourism and the Department of Trade and Industry Regional offices."

What's your take on it?

Comments
Recommended Videos
Comments
Latest Feed
 
Share
What would you do if you were in one of these true horror stories in the office?
 
Share
The three rulers of Manila, Rajah Sulayman, Matanda, and Lakandula co-ruled as equals.
 
Share
Apo Whang-Od agreed to a collab with a New York-based streetwear company.
 
Share
If he gets to keep his German Shepherd co-star from AppleTV+'s See, it'll be because she's cool with it.
 
Share
 
Share
Philippine superstitions and folklore were the perfect weapons against rebels.
 
Share
The revamped website aims to be a one-stop platform for the many travelers looking to explore the country's 7,641 islands.
 
Share
I spend an hour rustling up a nutritional meal, but it only takes five seconds for all hell to break loose
Load More Articles
Connect With Us