For the very first time, you’ll be able to get inked by a real Kalinga tattoo artist—without having to hike up the mountains of rural Philippines. Traditional Kalinga tattooists will be traveling out of their country to participate in Singapore Ink Show 2018, which returns Jun 15-17 at Suntec Convention Centre.
Sadly, that doesn’t include 94-year-old Whang-od—more famously known as the last Kalinga tattooist in the Philippines, and the subject of many an inspiring documentary. According to a spokesperson from the show, Whang-od has been advised against traveling by plane due to old age. While she remains in her home village of Buscalan in the mountains of northern Luzon, though, her granddaughters Grace Palicas and Ilyang Wigan will be bringing her traditional mambabatok (tattoo) style of hand-tapped tattooing here. The romanticism of being the last Kalinga tattooist may be gone, but the tattooing world breathes a sigh of relief that her bloodline successors are carrying on the trade.
Whang-Od and her granddaughters
The annual tattoo convention organized by ATS Singapore Pte. Ltd. is the largest gathering of international and local tattoo artists. The Kalinga tattooists’ exciting appearance aside, this year’s edition features more than 160 artists from over 23 countries. You’ll also get to peruse the works of other legendary names like Japanese tattooist Horiyoshi III, whose full-body “suits” will be represented by son and fellow tattooist Souryou at the show. American tattoo artist Nikko Hurtado too will be present; even if you don’t recognize the man himself, you probably will his detailed colored portraiture, endorsed on the bodies of Dwayne Johnson, Kat Von D and Drake.
Tickets start from $30 here—a fair price to pay for the opportunity to get up-close-and-personal with some global greats. The once-a-year affair is your chance to watch world-class tattoo competitions, meet your favorite tattoo artists, and get inked amongst hundreds of fellow tattoo enthusiasts. If you’ve been humming and hawing over what tatt to get next, best make up your mind soon. You’ll be spoilt for choice.
Singapore Ink Show 2018 takes place Jun 15-17 at Suntec Convention Centre, Exhibition Hall 404. More information here.