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



You may also like...


  1. […] Next:  A Warm Welcome […]

  2. What tattoo designs did you guys choose? Can’t wait for the next post!

    1. PinayTraveller says:

      Inge, wait for the next installment! Hahaha.:)

  3. Your posts about getting tattooed by Whang Od is getting me nervous and excited at the same time. I look forward to the next post. I promised myself to get my next tattoo here later this year. I can’t wait!

    1. PinayTraveller says:

      Hi Marj! Hahaha. Sorry bitin.:) Just wanted everyone to feel the excitement and anxiety I felt before my tattoo session.

  4. Che Ingles says:

    This is on top of my bucket list!!! 🙂

  5. Che Ingles says:

    ‘At the top of’ my list pala. Hanubayan. Hehe. 🙂

    1. PinayTraveller says:

      Che, go ka na! Now na!:)

  6. fred says:

    beautiful images! thank you!

    1. PinayTraveller says:

      Thanks, Fred! I really appreciate that.:)

  7. Kakatense! Excited to see the tattoos.

    1. PinayTraveller says:

      Hi Gaye! Oo nga. Malapit na!:)

  8. Fainting in the middle of the tattoo session from sheer pain? Araykupu! Looking forward to your next post kung hinimatay ka rin, or the coffee kept you conscious. 🙂

    1. PinayTraveller says:

      Haha. Hindi ako ang muntik nang himatayin. 😉 But the coffee was dang delicious!

  9. Yah, the other girl was the one who fainted diba? Hehe. And I’m guessing ikaw hindi ka hinimatay 😛 Yeah!

  10. I can’t wait to read the rest of the story and see your tattoo!!!

  11. […] Previously:  Buscalan:  A Warm Welcome […]

  12. Buhay na buhay ang kultura ng mga Katutubong Piilipino sa lugar na ito. Pwede i feature yung culture and lifestyle nila sa mga documentary na palabas sa Television. 🙂 I hope mas maapreciate pa ntn ang ating kultura despite modernization.

    1. PinayTraveller says:

      Hello Jhaypee. Agree ako! Ibang klase ang naging karanasan namin kasama ang mga Botbot. Sana nga hindi mamatay ang kultura nila, lalo na ang pagtata-tato. Salamat!

  13. […] a day, we suggest you stay with a family.  Apo Whang Od offers the second floor of her house for homestay. We paid 150 pesos a day per person.  There are other families willing to rent out rooms, […]

  14. we are going there on Friday, still can’t decide to get inked or not. Like ko yung sayo, maliit lang. 😀 Sobrang sakit ba? How were you able to communicate? Marami naman nagtaTagalog sa kanila? How about yung meals? Hmmm aside from matches what do you suggest we bring pa for them?

    Dami ko tanong ehehehe excited lang po.. 😀

    1. PinayTraveller says:

      Hey Apol! Wow, go get a tattoo! It’s worth the pain.:) Kaya mo yan. Not all of them speak Tagalog so it’s best to get a guide. Everything you need to know is here: Good luck!

  15. […] pictures first appeared on PinayTraveller.  Click Getting Inked by Whang Od  and Buscalan: a Warm Welcome  to read the fulls […]

  16. Peejay villanueva says:

    Thank you pauline for this amazing post! I needed relevant information about how to go to Buscalan and get inked by Wang-Od, I am happy, I was able to read your post. I am excited already! Thank you so much.

  17. Steve says:

    We went there July 2016 hellava ride to get there got 3 tats with my wife and daughter would do it again

  18. […] Buscalan:  A Warm Welcome […]

  19. Joan Sheppard says:

    Hi there! We are so inspired about your story and planning to do the same this November. Do you have any contacts so we can stay at Whang Od’s house?

    1. PinayTraveller says:

      Hi Joan! Unfortunately, it’s been quite a long time since we went there so I’ve lost all my contacts.:( I do hope you’ll be able to find your way there.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.