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Kalinga Getaway : Whang Od | Buscalan Tattoo Village | #KalinGadaGuio2015 Series

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Day 1 #KalinGadaGuio2015

KALINGA- SAGADA- BAGUIO Trip Series

It has been always my BFF’s wish that on her birthday, being the natural born traveler that she is, to have a tattoo done by Whang Od, considered as the last mambabatok and the oldest tattoo artist in the Philippines. Wish granted and just last Saturday, we’re already on our way to Buscalan Tattoo Village, Kalinga.

8:30 pm Victory Liner Kamias to Tabuk 

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  Tip: Consider the traffic and book ahead of time. We almost missed the bus going to Tabuk because really the traffic was insane that day. From what we checked online beforehand, Victory Liner Kamias has schedules of 7pm, 7:30pm, 7:45pm.
We missed those scheduled times so we became “chance passengers” for 8:30pm.

2am First Stop -CCQ Bus Stop and Restaurant

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Fortunately (even though we’re quite delayed, we’re still on track with our itinerary) and unfortunately (because this is quite pricey compared to it’s regular air conditioned counterpart) we happened to ride a Victory Deluxe Bus, and from what the bus conductor said, since it already has it’s own bathroom inside, Deluxe buses only have one stop compared to the regular air conditioned buses that have 2-3 stops. So if you want faster trip, you might want to consider taking their deluxe bus. You also get free snacks and water when you take a Victory Deluxe Bus.

6:30 am Arrival St. Williams Bulanao, Tabuk

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After 10 hours of travel time, we finally reached Tabuk, and our first itinerary was to take a picture of St. Williams Church.

7am Jeep to Tinglayan

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Just across St. Williams Church, are the vans and jeeps terminal going to Buscalan, Tabuk. This is a five hour trip going to Tinglayan.
**trips going to the tattoo village are only at 7am and  8am only that’s why be sure to catch them and check your travel time.
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** the Kuya behind us is like the conductor of the jeep. He assists the passengers when loading and unloading.

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*Top Loading. A must try. It’s free just ask your driver nicely. At first it was a bit scary because right beside us is already the cliff plus the repeatedly curvy zigzaggy road but then everything was worth it because you’d see absolutely breathtaking landscapes everywhere.

10am Arrival Tinglayan,Tabuk

We got down to Tinglayan to meet our tourguide, Francis Pain, a local tourguide in Buscalan. He claimed that he was the one who guided Rhian Ramos and other personalities who also went up at the Tattoo Village.

10:30 Tinglayan to Bugnay

We rode another Van (or you can also ride a jeep) to Bugnay where we will be riding Habal Habal or motorbikes to take us to the “Turning Point/ End of the Road”
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**Along the way, kuya Francis, our tour guide, pointed us to another tourist spot in Kalinga which is “The Sleeping Beauty Mountains”, three mountains forming a silhouette of a woman facing the  heavens. Can you spot the face? 

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The Habal-Habal ride going to the “End of the Road or Turning Point” will take about 30 mins or less.

11 am Arrival at “Turning Point/ End of the Road”

It’s called turning point or end of the road because from there, we’ll have to start trekking to Buscalan Tattoo Village where Whang Od lives.
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**Me and my bestie taking a “WEfie” first before trekking our way up to Whang Od

11:00 START TREKKING

I’m not going to lie, I hate trekking/hiking. But because friendship first before hatred (hatred to hiking or anything that needs entails defying gravity lol) I endured this part.
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**still smiling because the start of the trek were mostly all cemented flat grounds
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**along the way we met a few children residing around the area. Noemi giving away candies to the locals.
The way up is actually an easy trek, some parts has cemented paths paved away already for you to follow. Also some has stairs already. So if I did it, anyone can do it also!

12:00 Arrival Wang Od’s Home

Our tour guide, seeing how weak I am at trekking, said we still need to hike 1 hour more. And I was seriously thinking of a way to not hike. Hahaha I’m so close to just staying where we were and just wait (no matter how long it takes) for my friend to finish her tattoo sesh. But like an answered prayer, the one hour more trek was just a joke. And here we are! At Apo Whang Od’s humble abode.

 

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**at Whang Od’s home, us and with kuya Francis (middle) our tour guide. We were so lucky to be staying not just in anyone’s home, but at Apo Whang Od’s home!
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 Wang Od
We went straight to Whang Od’s home, and seeing her for the first time is like seeing my history books come to life. Seeing her and her fully tattooed arms makes me realize that those aren’t just tattoos, they also represent a unique culture and tradition that’s almost nearing extinction.
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After paying our respects to Whang Od, we went to their “tattoo place” and the line up for people wanting to have a tattoo is surprisingly quite long.
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** Grace and two other more(if I’m not mistaken), Whang Od’s grandnieces are now also performing mambabatok tattoo to tourists
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**Whang Od doing the mambabatok style of putting a tattoo.
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While waiting for our turn, we went back to Whang Od’s home and we were able to have a chat with Charlie Palangdaw (Grandson of Wang Od who also stays at Whang Od’s home). And here’s a few things worth knowing :)
  • Butbut is their dialect, for me it sounds a bit like the Korean language. Most people can understand Ilocano, another reason why this trip is much fun, because I can understand and speak the Ilocano dialect.
  •  Fahyu is pretty and  Ontog is handsome in Butbut dialect
  • Manjaman means thank you
  • Whang Od and Fang Od can be used interchangably but according to Charlie, Apo Whang/Fang Od writes her name using the latter.
  • locals here use Nganga (Betel Nut Chewing) because they said it helps keep themselves warm and make their teeth strong.
  • They also make their own barako coffee! First they’ll let the coffee beans/fruits dry under the sun then they’ll pound (bayuhin) on it to peel the skin off of the coffee. After which they’ll be cooking it by saggag or frying without oil then they’ll grind it afterwards.
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 ** Their tobacco leaves and coffee. They also chew their tobacco leaves like how they use nganga. They let us try the tobacco leaves and it has a spicy sting taste into it. And their homemade Barako Coffee. I super love their coffee! I’m not a coffee lover nor drinker but this one tastes sooo good! You can buy it from them at 100php per plastic bag.
 

TATTOO by Whang Od

We were about to take a nap when we were told that it’s already Noemi’s ,my bestie, turn to have a tattoo. By that time she’s still undecided what to put and where to place them. So she ended up having two tattoos- one at the back and one at the wrist. haha!

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The Ink used came from uling or the charcoal residues found at the bottom of the pots used for cooking. The “needles” are actually thorns of the Pabelo (Pomelo) fruit.
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The Tattoo process is done by putting the thorn of the pomelo fruit at the end of a wood rod, then from time to time, Whang Od will dip her fingers to the charcoal ink and rub it against the end of the thorn.
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 **the process requires repeatedly hitting the skin with needles depositing the ink into the skin
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 **my friend’s freshly done tattoo at the wrist. You’re tattoo’s not allowed to get wet for at least two days.   
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**Apo Whang Od drafting the tattoo first with a stick and the ink. Also it is a sign of respect that you only ask the price of the tattoo once it’s finished. Don’t worry they do not charge too much. It’s way cheaper than machine tattoos. And please no haggling!
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 **some designs you can choose from. You can bring your own designs too! but I suggest you stick to simple designs only.
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 **We’re really blessed because we also had our dinner with Whang Od and some of her family members. The people in the village are very hospitable. They serve their guests food. If you’re a picky eater, be sure to bring your own food and also some food to share.
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 ** We spent the night  Whang Od’s home at Ag Nam’s room, sister of Whang Od, she also slept next to us. Her room is decorated mostly with pictures and gifts from the visitors that come to the place.
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 ** We brought some candies for the children. Kuya Francis, our tour guide, discourages the bringing of candies he said it’s unhealthy for the children’s teeth. We also brought some basic toiletries for the host of the home that we’ll be staying at. We brought matches, soap, shampoos etc. It is also highly appreciated if you bring basic medications, something for headache etc. because when we arrived, Whang Od’s having a headache and there’s no available medicine.
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**foreigners documenting Whang Od
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** New friends! Another reason I love traveling. I get to meet different people from all walks of life.
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 ** Goodmorning! We planned on watching the sunrise but we overslept. hahaha! Nonetheless, the view is still picture worthy!
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** Here’s a picture of me and Apo Whang Od. Since it would break my mom’s heart, I halfheartedly chose not to get a tattoo.  Yes, she reads my blog.(hi Mom and Dad! hahaha I love you!)
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 **Us snappinng a few pictures before trekking down for our next stop! SAGADA !!!!

Summarized Itinerary and Expenses

8:30 pm Victory Liner Kamias to Tabuk —————————————————- P810
6:30 am Arrival at Bulanao,Tabuk (St. William’s Church)
7:00 am Ride Jeep/Van to Tinglayan (meet tour guide)———————————–P120
10:00 am Arrival at Tinglayan
       *We had our breakfast here. Meals at 50php
10:30 am Ride Jeep/Van to Bugnay (where you’ll ride habal habal/motorbike)———-P50
10:15 Place where will be riding the habal habal to the Turning Point  ——————–P50
10:30 Arrival at Turning Point/ End of the Road
11:00 am Start Trekking
12:00 Arrival at Buscalan Tattoo Village
          *Register first, there’s an environmental fee of —————————————P75
12:00-4:30 pm Explore the village mingle with locals
4:30 pm Tattoo Session (back and wrist tatt)  ———————————————-P800
          *prices may vary. Again ask the price after. No haggling please.
          * tattoo time depends on the design, ours took for about 30-45 mins
7:00 pm Dinner with Whang Od and family
         *bring food to share
8:00 Mingle with the locals. Meet new friends!
11:00 pm SLEEPING TIME
7:00-8:30 am Rise and Shine!
8:30 am trek down —————————————————————————-P100
9:00 am Ride Habal Habal ——————————————————————-P50
9:10 Ride jeep to Bontoc (Terminal to Sagada)——————————————–P100
11:00 am Arrival at Bontoc (Terminal to Sagada)
other expenses:
  • Tour guide P500
  • Home Stay P200
  • Food to share
—AND WE’RE OFF TO ANOTHER ADVENTURE: SAGADA!—

Things to Remember:

  • Prepare your butts and necks for extremely long travel hours. Bring neck pillows for extra comfort.
  • Just bring what you’ll need. Since you’re hiking don’t overpack.
  • Bring something to share to the locals, food medicine etc.
  • Bring extra jackets if you must for the cold weather.
  • There’s no wifi and signal
  • Take note of the travel schedules. Most transportation in Kalinga has scheduled travel times. So if you happen to miss them, worst comes to worst, you’ll have to wait till tomorrow.
  • Bring tattoo ointment if ever you plan on getting yourself a tattoo.
Francis Pain (tour guide) 09157690843
Overall, this trip took my getaways to a whole new different level. Although I’m not a tattoo enthusiast and I wasn’t able to get one, the long travel hours and trekking were all worth it. Experiencing such unique culture first hand is something I’d treasure forever (yess may forever haha!).
next post will be about the place where broken hearts go! SAGADAAAA!
-Kim :)

12 thoughts on “Kalinga Getaway : Whang Od | Buscalan Tattoo Village | #KalinGadaGuio2015 Series

  1. Hi Ms. Kim meron po ba kayong mairreto na tourgide going to Apo Wang Od? Pls. help Me. Gusto namin pumunta ng friend ko to tinglayan para magpa-ink kay Apo. Thank you :-)

  2. Hi Kim! we’re planning to go to apo Whang Od and have a tattoo this coming April 15-17. Just want to ask sobrang tarik or delikado ba ung sa trekking? May dala kasi kami na isang bata dahil wala talaga mapapagbilinan. kaya naman un need lang malaman kung ano ba worst or scariest dun sa trekking na wala dyan sa pics hehe.

    Also, ung signal ba san ba start wala? sa Tinglayan ba meron pa? or wala nadin?
    Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi dear! For me I think other than baka mapagod si little boy/girl, okay naman yung pag trek:) paved naman na yung way, mostly may semento na, and may steps steps na pero mejj madami din paakyat, ako kasi not really into trekking, pero nakaya ko naman, pang beginner siya actually:) may signal pa sa tinglayan,pero mahina na:) pero pag nagtrek na kayo wala na:)

  3. Hi, Ms. Kim gusto ko sana pumunta, just want to ask kung ito po ay nagpabook kau sa isang travel angecy or it just a trip with your friend? at panu nio po nakilala tour guide nio? and may idea po ba kau kung san uwede magstay dun?
    thank you.

    1. Hi dear! This is a DIY TRAVEL. No agencies. Basa basa lang din ng ibang blogs:) the tourguide sa blogs lang din namin nakuha:) no hotel stays sa village mismo kaya mas okay talaga you get a trusted tourguide kasi sila ang mag refer sainyo kung san kayo makikitira:) like samin yung tourguide namin kinausap niya yung apo ni Whang od, so sa bahay kami ni Whang Od nagstay:) with a minimal fee lang din:)

  4. who whant to go at Buscalan Tinglayan,Kalinga to experience our culture and have a ink by Apo Whang-Od … im BENJIE as a Tourguide just PM ME here my # 09480774818

    1. Hi! We paid 200 each plus goodies (toiletries like soap shampoo matches etc) actually there was no standard price. I suggest you get a trusted tourguide bec he’ll be the one to refer you to your host (house stay) where you’ll be living with the families talaga. Hope this helps!:)

      1. I’m just curious do you live in manila? I really like your stuff . I hope you will let me follow you on instagram if you have one

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