Apo Maria “Whang-Od” Oggay, a 106-year-old Indigenous woman and world-renowned tattoo artist, has become Vogue’s oldest ever cover model!
Apo is a Kalinga mambabatok (or traditional tattoo artist) from the Philippines who began her craft at the age of 16, travelling to nearby villages to imprint sacred symbols on people, all under the mentorship of her father.
And she has no plans on slowing down:
Apo Maria “Whang-Od” Oggay symbolizes the strength and beauty of the Filipino spirit.
Heralded as the last mambabatok of her generation, she has imprinted the symbols of the Kalinga tribe signifying strength, bravery & beauty on the skin.
Read more on https://t.co/2F1mJ5iQWG. pic.twitter.com/urVcA3g2Ek
— Vogue Philippines (@vogueph) March 30, 2023
“I’ll only stop when I can no longer see” she tells Vogue in her feature interview.
Apo is celebrated for her impact on local culture and is often referred to as the last mambabatok as the craft can only be passed on within bloodlines – and she never had children. However, according to her interview, she’s passing her skill and knowledge onto her grandnieces.
Her cover has attracted global attention, with Vogue being praised for representing the beauty of the ageing woman.
“We felt she represented our ideals of what is beautiful about our Filipino culture,” Vogue Philippines Edito-in-Chief Bea Valdes tells CNN Style.
“We believe that the concept of beauty needs to evolve and include diverse and inclusive faces and forms. What we hope to speak about is the beauty of humanity.”
Read Apo’s full interview with Vogue HERE.
(Feature Image Credit: Artu Neopomuceno/Vogue Philippines)