Getting Inked by Apo Whang-Od and Grace

December 27, 2016

Oh, the longest land travel I've had in my lifetime. ALMOST 24 HOURS IN THE ROAD. Traffic, and road constructions combined, I thought we wouldn't reach our destination. But we did. Sakit sa pwet. Huhuhu. But Kalinga!

I went to Victory Liner Kamias Station to pre-booked our seats for Manila-Tabuk, Kalinga route. I paid PhP700/head. This was a brilliant move, because on the day of the trip, both the 7pm and the 830pm schedules were fully booked. We left the station at past 7pm, which was a good thing because both Pao and Aron were late, but they were able to catch up when the bus was already moving. Still a good thing, right? :P Manila to Tabuk, should only take 10-12hrs, 15hrs if one is not so lucky, but gawd, it took us almost 24 freaking hours to reach Tabuk, Kalinga. It took our entire day. We decided to go to Tinglayan the following day, Aron and Pao cooked our dinner (they cooked almost all our meals, the perks of backpacking with them :P), we had coffee and slept for the day. 

We started our trek going to Buscalan early in the morning, it was more than an hour trek. But the place is picturesque, it was worth it!
Game on!
the view on our way to Buscalan
Oh, of course, we went to Buscalan in Kalinga Province for Apo Whang-Od. She is the living legend, the last mambabatok in Buscalan. Batok is an ancient technique in tattooing, compared to the conventional way of getting inked, this is painful. Apo and Grace used pomelo thorn in tattooing.

There were lots of people when we get there. Apo Whang-Od was already doing her thing, and people were watching, amazed and scared (well, for me). I had my first tattoo back in 2010, and thought of having another one by Apo Whang-Od, who would say no getting inked by her? Not me, definitely. But I chickened out, I could hear every tap-tap-tap of Apo, and that was enough for me to change my mind. I immediately decided to get a tattoo with Grace, her granddaughter. I looked at the traditional tattoo illustrations in the board, and was attracted to the traveler star. I actually googled that earlier, and was really thinking of getting that.
the tattoo illustrations
I went to Grace, and it didn't hurt as much I think it would hurt if I let Apo Whang-Od do it instead. Well, the latter part quite hurt. :P Grace is young, but also good. 
Despite being hesitant on getting inked by Apo Whang-Od, I was still determined not to leave Buscalan without getting inked by her. Imagine the internal struggle. Then, somebody told us that we can actually get her signature, three dots instead. I opted on that one. I also did not have to queue if I'd be only getting her signature. Yay.
I was really happy that I've got to be inked by both Whang-Od and Grace. Please make sure to bring wet tissues (useful during the actual pambabatok) and petroleum jelly (for after tattoo care). During lunch, we chatted with Grace, and she is like your typical confidante who gives sound advice. Yup, we talked about love and life. 

We left after lunch. As we explored the place, and we were in awe on how beautiful this God's creation. It was a good idea to visit Kalinga, not only for Apo Whang-Od but also for witnessing the love of God through his magnificent creations.
the greens in Kalinga

For bonus point on this trip, we got to stay in a century-old nipa house, with bonfire ito ha! Bongga!
the century-old nipa house
the traveler's star

*Credit to Regina and EJ on the photos

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