But before I start to tell the story of this adventure, let me just say that if it wasn’t for my dear friend, I wouldn’t be able to visit the place.
I said to my past post that LG (dear friend) and I planned to go here earlier of this year, but didn’t get the chance because ‘priorities’. So when her officemates told her that they are planning to visit the village soon, she immediately sent me a message to file a leave on the 2nd day of August adding “I couldn’t see her (Whang-Od) without you”. Who wouldn’t be happy reading those kind of message? It’s one of the best birthday gift I’ve received this year! ✨
Moving on to the main topic, we became hesitant as the day of our departure got closer because of the weather. There were heavy rain and thunderstorms the whole week, and there was flood all over the news. We became anxious and frustrated with the thought that the trip could be cancelled anytime and all of our preparation and waiting will go to waste! My mother also didn’t want me to go anymore, but thank God, a source told our organizer that there’s no trace of rain in Kalinga!
So at 9:40pm on August 2, 2019, my journey to Buscalan Village, Tinglayan, Kalinga began.
The journey to Kalinga
Our travel time lasts for about 9hrs before we reach Banaue, another 2hrs to Bontoc, and additional 1hr to Buscalan with some stop over in between. It was a long and rough journey (and curvy because of the road haha), but fun because I was with friends! The music in the van also add ‘the’ vibes, so it’s good.
We listed our names for registration upon arriving Buscalan before starting to trek.
It’s only a minor trek/hike, but since it’s already pass 12nn and the sun was so angry (hehe, so hot) that day, I felt dizzy reaching the village. Had to stop several times, huhu. My friends also went first so I was the last in the line, and there was no one to help if I suddenly pass out. I technically had no choice, but to compose myself and continue! Glad I made it. Mwaha.
And so, we arrived in the village proper after lunch, and stayed in a 2-storey modern “kubo”. Actually, the tourists can only occupy the 2nd floor, but since we exceed in the number of person in a room, we also rented another house including the first floor. You see, I realized that even though the village is now popular because of their culture, it is still sad to think that somehow, we, the tourists, are unintentionally invading their privacy. I wondered the whole night if where did the people staying in the first floor sleep that time.
The Batok Session
Batok: general term for a traditional “tattoo” using a sharp thorn needle of a calamansi tree.
We started the traditional “batok” session around 3pm. At first, I really don’t know what design to choose. I am torn among the “dog”, “moon”, “crab”, and “moving arrow” symbol since I want them all, but of course, I only need to choose one. And dundundun, being a child of moon prevailed! I chose the moon. Ah, here are the designs to choose from. You can also customize your design, but it should be minimal so that it can be copied and done by the artist who will do the “batok”:
Tattoo design photo credits to Hazel
The designs are sketched using a dried midbids of palm trees, and then pierced / inked into the skin using a calamansi thorn and charcoal ink.
My Batok session lasts almost 1hr since ate Jemai (really wasn’t sure the spelling), our mambabatok*, had to fill in the circle in the middle of my tattoo.
*Mambabatok: The person who professionally practices Batok.
Let’s compare the Batok to the Modern inking now: I can say that this hurt much than the modern, but it is still tolerable. It is painful in the first ten strokes, but eventually the pain will make you(r skin) numb. Literally.
It is painful, but it is satisfying.
The Overnight Stay
What I like about staying there is the coffee. I was happy to know that staying there means unlimited coffee! The people there were happy to serve us their hot and delicious kapeng barako fresh from the stove.
I bought some kapeng barako home, however, I couldn’t match the taste of the kapeng barako I tasted in Buscalan. Iba pa rin talaga ang kapeng probinsya. Hehe.
We had dinner at night, cooked by our awesome ‘organizer’ and talked about our very own tattoo experience. My friends and I took a picture of our tattoos and here it is!
This is our second tattoo together! We also had our first tattoo together last year (excluding Pablo) that’s why I am very happy that I got to get inked again with them.
The next day, we roam around the place and took pictures of nature, pigs, and… us. Hehe.
The Healing Process
My theory is, the Batok tattoo takes longer to heal than the modern. Or maybe it still depends on the person. I admit that I usually have difficulties mending wounds, plus the occasionally eczema flare up. Huhu. It has been three weeks, but I think mine is still not fully healed. I was actually waiting for it to happen, the very reason too why I am posting this just now. Hehe. But anyway, here are the pictures of my tatts, healing.
I actually failed at taking pictures of it everyday, so I just had to jump several days. hehe. As of now, it still has bumps and still itch. It’s now lighter in color, though I read a blog that it normally happens and will eventually darken as time pass. I HOPE THO. HAHA!
The only sad thing about this trip is we didn’t get the chance to meet Whang-Od in person, and get a batok from her. The good thing, we have a reason to go back! Buuuut, I took a pic of her:
I pray for her long liiiiiiife and good health so that there will be more people to have the chance to get inked by her.
In summary, I really enjoy this trip. And for youuu to really absorb this trip too, here is a vlog made my my friend, Nica! You can watch it in youtube and subscribe to her channel after! :D