Newly inked batok and Buscalan Village
Journal Top Stories

Meeting Apo Whang Od and My First Kalinga Tattoo

It is such a humbling experience to have Apo Whang Od, the last mambabatok of Kalinga, ink my very first tattoo. This trip might be short but full of unforgettable memories. Read my travelogue.

This travelogue is composed of more than 3,700 words and 5 pages with amazing visuals to guide you on our tale. It tells the story of our trip to Buscalan Village in Tinglayan, Kalinga, the hometown of the last mambabatok of Kalinga – Apo Whang Od. It’s a long read but I assure you this travel story is worth it. Let me share to you the experiences we had in this once-in-a-lifetime trip that I will surely never forget.

If you’re requesting for a complete travel guide, here’s our link: https://blaineislost.com/2017/05/15/travel-guide-to-buscalan-village/

CONTENT

  1. Page 1 – Morning in Tabuk City
  2. Page 2 – Top Loading Kalinga Style
  3. Page 3 – The Hike to Buscalan Village and its Utter Danger
  4. Page 4 – The Butbut Tribe and the last Mambabatok of Kalinga
  5. Page 5 – A New Morning, A New Life

Morning in Tabuk City

The sun was not yet up when we arrived in Tabuk City, Kalinga, a province located at the northern part of Luzon Islands. We alighted on a nearby sari-sari store and stayed there with the other travelers. A woman on her mid-40s, tending the store, offered their signature Kalingan Coffee at a certain price. I was hesitant since my tummy is quite reactive to hot brewed coffee especially taken without food. A little bit famished and tired from the 9-hour bus ride, I opened my packed crackers, ate and stayed for half an hour.

Sari-sari store in Tabuk City Kalinga
A sari-sari store in Tabuk City, Kalinga offering signature Kalingan coffee.

Around 0500H, the cluck and crow of chickens echoed signalling the coming of the morning sun. Randy, a tall well-built man and a friend of mine, invited me for a walk around the city. I stood up lazily, carried my backpack and sauntered. The sky was still dark yet a few people were present doing their morning routine. We saw a police station in front of St. William’s Cathedral and stayed there for another hour. I was thankful to the police on duty that morning for welcoming us inside their station.

The Spontaneous Trip

This was an another spontaneous trip. I was scrolling on my smartphone absentmindedly one afternoon when I saw a viral video about the last mambabatok of Kalinga. I knew it was Apo Whang Od. I knew her because of the viral petition posted in social media more than a year ago imploring Apo Whang Od to be a National Artist. It was quite amazing knowing that the Philippines still has a living legend in this generation.

It was quite amazing knowing that the Philippines still has a living legend in this generation.

I was quite astonished about her story, their culture and history. Suddenly, an inner spark kindled. I immediately invited Randy about this spontaneous trip. Surprisingly, he accepted my invite without any second thought. Then, here we are staying in a police station waiting for the sun to rise.

I was a little bit shocked to know that Randy has certain knowledge about the people living in the north. He shared stories about their rituals and their way of life. He recommended a documentary aired on Discovery Channel years ago about the Tattoo Hunter, Lars Krutak, who stayed in Buscalan Town Proper for two weeks and lived the way of the Kalingas. Amazed and astonished on the stories, my attention shifted suddenly when I saw the clouds illuminated by the faint morning light. Magandang umaga Kalinga! (Good morning Kalinga!), I thought to myself.

St. William's Church in Tabuk City, Kalinga
Good morning Kalinga!

Next Page: Top Loading Kalinga Style

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