Asia,  Destinations,  Philippines

Buscalan: A Warm Welcome

 


 

The village of Buscalan in Tinglayan  sits prettily on top of a mountain, some 2,000 feet or so above sea level.


 

The village of Buscalan in Tinglayan  sits prettily on top of a mountain, some 2,000 feet or so above sea level. It is home to the Botbot Tribe, one of the 31 Subtribes in the province of Kalinga.

When we finally get there, we find the community busy preparing for the wedding feast. A wedding! How serendipitous!

Under the colorful tent, some women are making what appear to be decors made from palm leaves.

 

Buscalan 21sm

Buscalan 18sm

Buscalan 27 sm

 

While the women are occupied with the preparations, life for the other ‘members’ of the community remain undisturbed.

 

Buscalan 28 sm

Whang Od11sm

 

The children, although used to the presence of strangers, smile at us shyly.

 

Buscalan 31 sm

Buscalan 20sm

 


The children, although used to the presence of strangers, smile at us shyly.


 

 

Buscalan 17sm

 

We go straight to Whang Od’s house where we are going to be billeted for the next couple of nights. Her grandson, John, welcomes us warmly and leads us to the second floor of her tiny hut.  The room looks like a shrine, filled with photos of Whang Od taken by those who have received her tattoos.

 

Whang Od8sm

Buscalan 32 sm

 


We look down from the balcony and see the local celebrity herself, hard at work.


 

 

From our room we hear the rythmic sound of  wood tapping on wood. We look down from the balcony and see the local celebrity herself, hard at work.

 

Buscalan 30 sm

 

The young man Whang Od is working on is trying to hide his nervousness. He talks loudly, perhaps in an attempt to drown out the sound of Whang Od’s instruments.

Talaga bang ganito kasakit ‘to? (Does it really hurt this much?)” He winces in pain.  His guide says nothing and just smiles at him without sympathy.

Seeing that Whang Od is busy and that there are still about three people waiting for their turn, we decide to have our tattoos done the next day. Meanwhile, it doesn’t take long before we are invited by one of Whang Od’s neighbors for coffee.

 

Buscalan 22sm

 

Over cups of hot Benguet coffee, we talk to a group of young women travellers. They say they just graduated from college and are relishing the last days before they have to look for work. They’ve read about Whang Od from various travel blogs and were curious to see her and get their own tattoos done.

 

Buscalan 25sm

 

 

 


“How’s your tattoo?” I ask.

“Painful.” One of them admits.


 

 

Buscalan 24sm

Buscalan 23sm

Buscalan 26sm

 

 

“How’s your tattoo?” I ask.

“Painful.” One of them admits.  Apparently, she  fainted from sheer pain in the middle of her session.

My husband and I look at each other anxiously.

Oh boy.  What have we gotten ourselves into?

 

Next:  Getting Inked by Whang Od

Previously:  The Long Walk to Buscalan

 

 

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