July 22, 2024

Indigenous peoples in Kalinga have asserted their rights over their traditional tattoo patterns by requiring all interested individuals, groups, and business entities to first secure their collective consent prior to using these designs.
A resolution “affirming the tattoo pattern or design as part of their indigenous property and resultantly requiring all interested entity making use of these patterns/designs to secure their prior consent” was recently signed by 68 Kalinga elders, village leaders, and local government officials.
The resolution stated the tattoo designs are owned collectively by the Kalinga IPs and not by any individual alone.
The tattoo designs included the python, ancestral (om’o’mod), anthropomorphs, centipede (gayaman), eagle (ginaya-gayang; bukaw; binukabuka), horn (sinaksak’od, sinaksakgod), ladder (iner-erchan, iner-erdan), lizard (inurti-it; inur-urtiit, silay), matte (inob-ofog, inob-obok), mond (sinor sorag, sorag), ribcage (pinerpertang), rice bundles (tinpoytalu), snake (urog, tinab-tab-bad), and tie-band (binulibod).
The IPs said these patterns have already gained universal attribution to the people of Kalinga.
“Because of the long practice and carry-over from generation to generation, it has become one of the indubitable and unmistaken Kalinga cultural manifestations and identity that anyone could tell who a typical yKalinga is,” the resolution reads. 
They said with this known attribution, the tattoos simply point to the ownership of these designs to the whole of the IPs of Kalinga.
“We, indigenous cultural communities/IPs of Kalinga, were alarmed of the attempt of others to allocate unto themselves these Kalinga tattoo patterns/designs as their personal and individual property and endeavor to appropriate as theirs for money to the prejudice, damage and loss of the collective owner, the whole yKalinga,” it added.
Copies of the resolution were furnished to the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, the provincial indigenous peoples’ mandatory representative, and the Kalinga provincial government.
The resolution stemmed from earlier reports of certain entities using Kalinga tattoo patterns without first securing the free prior and informed consent (FPIC) from the communities.
Last year, the NCIP-Cordillera halted the proposed release of the t-shirt design of Vans Philippines, which incorporates the Kalinga python tattoo design.
The company wrote to the commission stating it has secured a memorandum of agreement with Kalinga tattoo artist Whang-od, which stipulates the use of the design.
But upon validation by the NCIP, it found out that Whang-od was not fully aware of the conditions of the MOA. The NCIP-CAR said the company did not go through the proper channels in securing FPIC from the Kalinga ICCs/IPs, which collectively own the design.
Whang-od and local clothing company, New Era Co., also signed a MOA in 2019 for the use of the tattoo design on hat products.
The NCIP-CAR then directed New Era to go through the FPIC process and to first obtain consent from the Kalinga ICCs or IPs before they can appropriate the tattoo designs in their products. The company has conformed to the FPIC process and is currently seeking the consent of the IPs.
The FPIC is a specific right given to the IPs, which allows them to give or withhold consent to a project that may affect them or their territories. – Ofelia C. Empian