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Getting Inked by Whang Od

My husband and I wake up at six in the morning,  still a little groggy from last night’s wedding eve party.  We are up in the small village of Buscalan in the Cordillera mountains.


Weddings here are celebrated for two consecutive days and last night,  it seemed that the whole village joined the revelry at the village ‘plaza’ which was, as luck would have it,  only  two steps away from Whang Od’s house. Hubby and I were so exhausted from the day’s 16-hour journey.  But much as we wanted to sleep, Psy’s Gangnam Style blaring from the sound system every 30 minutes had us tossing and turning up until the wee hours of the morning.

Despite our lack of sleep, we force ourselves to get up. It is going to be a long and painful day and we want to make sure we are Whang Od’s first skins of the day.   As we make our way downstairs, we see the petite 93-year-old mambabatok (tattoo artist) already up and about,  feeding her chickens while drinking her morning brew.


In her very limited Tagalog, she asks us if we were able to sleep at all. We assure her that we’re okay and that she need not worry about us.



After coffee, Whang Od tells us to go with her to the upper side of the village.  It’s much quieter there and the seeming isolation is perfect for our tattooing session.


Choosing the Design


As Whang Od prepares her tools, Hubby and I go over our design one last time. Before coming here, we talked about having a symbol to mark our  9th wedding anniversary. We also wanted  something traditional in honor of Whang Od. Problem was, we had no idea how to go about looking for a traditional Kalinga design. Most of what we’ve seen were animal motifs, particularly centipedes and snakes.  Both are beautiful but do not speak of us as a couple.  Fortunately,  we found a book lying around Whang Od’s house yesterday.  “Filipino Tattoos Ancient to Modern” the title said.  It was written  by Lane Wilcken, a Filipino-American author and tattoo artist.   It turns out  that Whang Od and Kalinga tattooing have figured prominently in Lane’s book.  As we turned the pages, we saw exactly what we were looking for.




The Kinilat or lightning is one of the traditional batek (tatoo) motifs in Kalinga.


“…men and women are two parts of one person.  The two lines in the kinilat tattoo represent this union…The plain zigzag line represents water flowing along a riverbank and is the male aspect.  The other line, with the three extensions on each of the outside corners, is the bank of the river and the female aspect.”



Hubby shows the book to Whang Od and points at the illustration. She smiles and nods her approval. Hubby  had previously requested  that  both Whang Od and her niece, Grace, give him his batek so that he can have one unified piece that would represent both the old and the new generation of Kalinga tattoo artists.



Whang Od has taught Grace the art of  tattooing a few years ago but is unsure of whether Grace will continue the tradition. Grace is now in college, studying to become a teacher. From our encounters with her, we felt Grace’s heart is not really into tattooing. At least not yet. I hope she proves us wrong.


UPDATE:  The hubby just chatted with Grace and found out that Grace is still pretty much into tattooing. This is the best news we’ve heard in a long time!  I’m glad she has proven us wrong. We hope that she continues this beautiful tradition and that in time, others will follow in her footsteps.


Getting inked, finally.


The process of traditional tattooing is quite simple. First, Whang Od gathers soot from her cooking pans and mixes it with water to create the pasty ink.



She then gets a blade of grass, dips it in the ink and uses it to create the pattern on the skin.


Buscalan 36sm

Once the pattern is laid out, hand-tapping begins.


Buscalan 2 sm


Once the pattern is laid out, hand-tapping begins.For needle, Whang Od uses a pomelo thorn that she attaches to the end of a piece of bamboo.  She smears the thorn with ink, then,  using another piece of wood,  taps it repeatedly into the skin until the skin absorbs the ink.

Whang Od taps over the pattern two or three times to make sure the ink is absorbed completely. So basically, you get wounded two or three times on the same area until she is satisfied with the result and decides to move on. And because the thorn is not as smooth as a needle, the process becomes extra painful when the skin gets snagged on the thorn. Ouch!


And because the thorn is not as smooth as a needle, the process becomes extra painful when the skin gets snagged on the thorn.


Buscalan 42sm

Buscalan 5 sm

Whang Od tattoo
I love the contrast between Apo Whang Od’s traditional sleeve and my husband’s Leo Zulueta-inspired neo-tribal one.

Buscalan 51sm


Whang Od and Grace take turns working on Hubby’s batek.


Buscalan 3 sm

Buscalan 43sm


Before long,  Hubby’s arm begins to swell. I can also see that he’s in extreme pain. In the olden days,  tattooing sessions can last up to several months, depending on the size of the batek. The tattooed area can also stay swollen for several weeks.


In the olden days,  tattooing sessions can last up to several months, depending on the size of the batek. The tattooed area can also stay swollen for several weeks.


Finally, after three and a half hours of tortuous tapping, Whang Od is satisfied with my husband’s batek.

Then it’s my turn.


Buscalan 45sm


The thing about traditional tattooing is that nothing will (ever) prepare you for the pain. With machine-operated tattooing, the light buzz coming from the equipment is almost like a subtle signal for you to brace yourself.  With traditional tattoo,  silence is literally the calm before the storm.  You will never be prepared for the assault on your skin, nor the pain that follows.

It’s very tempting to block out the pain. But in essence, getting a batek  is a spiritual experience. Thus, you have to savor the moment, no matter how painful or uncomfortable it is. In ancient times, tattooing used to be a sacred rite and tattoos were given only to the bravest men of the tribe.  Women also received their tattoos as a rite of passage.  My kinilat, as small as it is, is no less important,  nor painful!   At some point during the session, I start questioning my sanity.  Why am I doing this again?

The Aftermath


Hubby will run a very high fever tonight. I know it in my bones. I can see that his body is already trying to reject the ink embedded in his skin. He disagrees, of course, but his swollen batek betrays him.


Buscalan 46sm


As for me, I am a little guilty that my batek is way smaller than his. Still, I feel a sense of accomplishment.  We have been marked by Whang Od, the last tattoo artist of Kalinga, a fitting way to celebrate nine happy years together.


Buscalan 49sm


From afar I can see the mist creeping over the mountaintops. Rain is coming.  But the villagers seem oblivious. There’s still that wedding celebration to think about.  Already, the sound system is blaring music again. Thankfully, it’s not Gang Nam Style. At least not yet.   Rain or shine, the Botbot Tribe will celebrate again tonight.  And having been marked by Whang Od,  we were invited to be part of the tribe, if only for one night.

To know more about Kalinga Tattooing, read tattoo anthropologist Lars Krutak’s article here. You can also check out Lane Wilcken’s Filipino Tattoos Ancient to Modern Facebook page here.

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Next:  How to Get to Buscalan: a Practical Guide

Previously:  Buscalan:  A Warm Welcome

More Readings:  Kalinga Tattoo Gone Wrong

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  1. […] Next:  Getting Inked by Whang Od […]

  2. Love the design! Sigh, I wish Steve and I could have tattoos too, but I don’t think I can stand the pain. Hehehe. Hang on, I was in labor for two days before I had to undergo an emergency CS to take Tamsin out. Kaso nga lang, I had gas & air for that. Di kaya pwede, may gas & air din pag nag papa-tatoo? Hehe.

    1. PinayTraveller says:

      Inge, yes you can have a topical anesthetic! 🙂 kaya lang baka pagtawanan ka ni Whang Od!

      1. Jessica Stoops says:

        Hi, my name is Jessie Stoops. I just read your story. I am fascinated. The whole process sounds amazing, if not terrifying. My brother and I are really wanting to make the trip for our own tattoos. We would probably be traveling in a group of 4 or 5. We are planning on traveling during his spring break from school (University of Missouri). Instead of taking the typical spring break we want to do something adventurous and meaningful. At any rate, we have NO idea what we are doing. I say NO with heavy emphasis on NO. If you could help us in any way, it would be amazing. Maybe you could be our guides? The break begins March 21st. I realize that may not be a lot of time to plan a trip of this magnitude, so I understand if you are not available. I should also mention that our budget is very limited. (I am a single mom of four and my brother is a college student). I really hope you will be able to help us in some way. Thanks so much in advance,


        1. VeeEss says:

          It’s Apr 21st. I wonder if you ever pushed through with your trip! I hope you got your batek!

          1. Jessie Stoops says:

            Hi! Yes, we made our trip. It was amazing. Definitely a once in a lifetime experience and a great adventure. We all got our bateks, and they are perfect. My mom’s actually seems a bit infected, but doing ok. It was a long and even exhausting trip, but totally worth it.

  3. Oh my goodness! I am already tattooed–counting three at the moment. Two huge ones, too–but your post scares me a little. That familiar buzz of the tattoo machine is a sound that I have a love/hate relationship with. You are correct, it signals the start of the pain. It tells you to get ready. I wonder how my body will react to this pain. At the same time, I am excited. Even with the threat of so much pain, I have resolved to accomplish this. I could already see the tattoo on my body. Excellent writing and pictures as usual 🙂

    1. PinayTraveller says:

      Hi Marj. Between the two us, Hubby and I have 13 or 14 tats. But Whang Od’s are the best, not just because of the way they were done but especially because of the story behind them. Thank you so much for your kind words. I’m sure you’ll have a blast in Buscalan!

  4. Don Ico says:

    Nice read, nice tattoo, nice couple! 🙂 congrats saindong duwa for the 9 years together.

    1. PinayTraveller says:

      Hi Don! Thanks from both of us! Hope you’re doing well.:) Stay safe!

  5. Great blog and this entry is interesting! 🙂

    1. PinayTraveller says:

      Thank you, Kat! And thanks for stopping by. 🙂 Safe travels!

  6. […] her work after each session.  A small tattoo, like mine, would cost between 200-400 pesos.  An intricate bracelet, like Hubby’s, would cost between 2,000 to 3,000 […]

  7. Haha my forearm hurts me only from reading the description:D That must have been an amazing experience though! Cheers from Portugal:)

    1. PinayTraveller says:

      Hahaha. Sorry about that! Yes, it was definitely a great experience and would gladly do it again.:) If you have some time, eat some pasteis de belem for me and send me some pictures!:)

  8. Great post, Pol, I’m not really keen on tattoos but I enjoyed reading your adventure to meet and get inked by the great Whang Od. Love the photos and how you described the process: “because the thorn is not as smooth as a needle, the process becomes extra painful when the skin gets snagged on the thorn” araykupu! I could almost feel the pain. (Threading nga lang I already question my sanity halfway through–do we really need groomed eybrows?!–ito pa) I salute you.

    1. PinayTraveller says:

      Thanks, Mabes. If you can handle threading, baka you can handle tattooing? We’ve met quite a few tattoo ‘virgins’ there and I was amazed at how they were able to handle the pain. I suppose it’s all in the mind? 🙂

  9. Oh and congratulations on the AFAR online shoutout! 🙂 Yahooooooo! Idol!

    1. PinayTraveller says:

      Thank you! Nakaka-excite! Mag-a-apply na ko sa kanila! (as if, hahaha)

  10. Finally got to read this. I just got inked by Lane about a month ago. Great post

    1. PinayTraveller says:

      Thanks, Kristian! And great job on the Baybayin!

  11. marjorie galang says:

    great blog… and very helpful too…
    i have two tattoos on my back… and sabi ko i want my next tattoo to be traditional and sa kalinga… the next art i want is meaningful. and i was more encouraged by your post!
    ask ko lang po… how much did you pay for the tattoo?

    1. PinayTraveller says:

      Hi Marjorie, thank you. I’m glad you find the blog helpful For practical details on getting a tattoo, see this entry:
      Get that tattoo soon!

  12. Dody says:

    Malapit na.

    1. PinayTraveller says:

      Really? When?! I’m excited for you!

    2. PinayTraveller says:

      Really? When?! I’m excited for you!

  13. Hi po! Does one need to have tetanus vaccine ba before this? She changes din po ung parang needle?

    1. PinayTraveller says:

      I think it’s a good idea to have tetanus vaccine before you go there. She uses thorn as needle and doesn’t change it regularly, I think. It’s not because she’s too lazy to do that but because it has always been this way even before her time. Tingin ko, when she finds good equipment, she sticks with it. If you’re uncomfortable when it comes to these things, then it’s proabably best not to get a tattoo. 🙂

  14. […] Kalinga and Baguio to celebrate our anniversary in […]

  15. I would lovew to try this one day… Awesome tattoo right there. whang od is amazing.

    1. PinayTraveller says:

      Yeah, you should really try this if you’re into tattoos. Whang-od is indeed amazing. Thanks for the visit! 🙂

  16. emmanuelle sawit says:

    Hi po, were planning to go there on dec 4 to 9. sagada muna kami until saturday lunch time, then diretso kami to buscalan. question is we dont know hot to get there. maybe u can help us out po. trip namin back is monday morning. kaya po ba? please contact me po. 0932 9212329. thanks.

    1. PinayTraveller says:

      Hi Emmanuelle,

      This might be able to help you:

      I’m not so sure about getting to Buscalan from Sagada, though. What kind of help do you need ba? 🙂

  17. Hello! Can you give some tips on your tattoo aftercare? We’re planning to go next weekend to Fang-od. Great post, you have! 🙂

    1. PinayTraveller says:

      Hi Kate,

      After your session, don’t wash your wound right away to let the pigment seep in. Let it rest for maybe a couple of hours. Just clean the area around the wound. When the swelling has subsided, you can wash your wound with soap and water using only your hand. Pat dry and put some antibacterial ointment if you have. Whang Od does not have any bandages so you should bring your own if you want to cover the wound. As for us, we just put petroleum jelly over our new tats. We did this daily for about a week until the wound has completely healed.

      Wow the weather will be very nice if you’re going next weekend. Let us know how it goes! Good luck and stay safe!

      Pauline and Papoy

      1. Claudia says:

        Where did you buy your bandages?

  18. […] e fotos Kalinga Tattoos Lars Krutak ABS CBN News Pinay Traveller […]

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

  20. jay says:

    am planning to have a tattoo from wang-od on november.

    just wondering, i know kalinga tattoo patterns have their own meaning. i want the necklace-like tattoo, like the one on wang-od’s upper chest. is it possible?

    thank you!

    1. PinayTraveller says:

      Hi Jay,

      Yup, you’re right. Each pattern has its own meaning. You can actually ask Whang-Od about the meaning of her tattoos. Off-hand, I think it is reserved for warriors in the olden days. If you’re getting a hand-tapped tattoo for the first time, I suggest you go for the less complicated pattern especially if you’re leaving immediately as your tats (and your body) won’t have time to rest. 🙂

  21. Gus says:

    Loved how you captured the experience. Been wanting to do this for the longest time, but was clueless on how to go on about it. Thanks for sharing your story. When time permits, in a month or so, might just go and do it. Could you please send me an e-mail re how to get in touch with you. Thanks again.

    1. PinayTraveller says:

      Hi Gus, I’m glad you like my post. You can e-mail me at 🙂

  22. Cara Abaya says:

    Hi, I’m really glad I came across your articles because they have been the most useful ones I’ve found so far. I’ve been meaning to visit her but never had the proper opportunity or company to do so. However, it’s my 21st birthday in 2 weeks and I’d really love to have it done as a gift to myself. By any chance would you two be willing to accompany me? This would be my first time to travel alone.

    1. PinayTraveller says:

      Hi Cara,

      So sorry for the late reply. Advanced happy birthday! What a perfect way to celebrate. Unfortunately, we are very busy at the moment and won’t be able to travel any time soon. I hope you’ll be able to find a travel companion. Please make sure to travel with someone ha, or get a guide.:) Good luck!


    2. hi, cara! was thinking of the same thing: to get inked by whang od for my 30th birthday in october. 😀 unlike you, i’m used to travelling alone, and have been scheduling solo trips at least once a year for 5 years already. please tell us how it goes, if you’d happen to travel alone.

      happy birthday! 😀

    3. Hi cara! Were you able to go to buscalan and get inked? If not, i’m planning to go there next week. I’m in sagada at the moment, also traveling solo.

  23. […] a photo of myself while on the road. So no, that’s not me pictured above but the legendary Apo Whang-Od. […]

  24. Amazing entry! I am an American living in Manila and stumbled upon your blog when searching where in the Philippines I could get a traditional tattoo. Would love to connect with you! Thanks!

    1. PinayTraveller says:

      Hi Laura! Sure, would be glad to connect with you. Hubby is also organizing a trip to Buscalan in October. Will e-mail you.:)

      1. Wonderful! Yes, October would work out well for me! Looking forward to hearing more! Thanks again!

  25. Anna Tacadena says:

    I’m really excited! I’ve been wanting to get a tattoo by Whang Od but I have no idea where to start. I am overjoyed to have found this. I am planning on visiting my mother in Bohol, but I do want to get a Kalinga tattoo. I can’t think of a better way to pay my respects to the history of my culture. I have a few other questions, but I’ll wait for an email to ask.

    Thank you so much!

    1. PinayTraveller says:

      Hi Anna,

      I’m glad you’re excited. You can e-mail me your questions at

      Happy travels!


  26. james says:

    Hello, I really enjoyed reading this page. It brings me a lot of ideas of what kind of tattoo design to get. I’m thinking to have Tattoo in Philippines when I visit next year.

  27. Wow, you’re both really brave and they look beautiful. Amazing photographs and description. This is one of the most interesting articles I’ve read in a long time.

    1. PinayTraveller says:

      Hi Katie,

      Wow! Thank you for the kind words.:) It was indeed a great experience and we’re so glad we could share it with our readers.:)

      Happy travels!


  28. I just got my own tattoo last Sunday. And we actually made it there with the help of your blog, so thank you for posting these helpful tips!

    I am concerned though with the aftercare, (I have only seen one blog who actually talked about the healing process of her tattoo). Do you know anyone who actually got sick after? Or had an infection? I haven’t had a tetanus shot and I’m wondering if I should still get one.

    Thanks for the helpful posts!

    1. PinayTraveller says:

      Hi G,

      I hope this reply is not too late. Don’t worry about the tetanus shot. And I hope you didn’t get an infection. This is what I usually tell people:

      After your session, don’t wash your wound right away to let the pigment seep in. Let it rest for maybe a couple of hours. Just clean the area around the wound. When the swelling has subsided, you can wash your wound with soap and water using only your hand. Pat dry and put some antibacterial ointment if you have. Whang Od does not have any bandages so you should bring your own if you want to cover the wound. As for us, we just put petroleum jelly over our new tats. We did this daily for about a week until the wound has completely healed.

      Hope this helped. 🙂

      Happy travels!


  29. Elly Toledo says:

    Greetings.. ma’am pauline, first of all, I do love this blog of you about apo Wang Od. 😀 it really had me fired up and really excited to get marked by wang od like the both of you. 😀 actually, my mom and I are planning to go there this coming february 2015 to get marked by wang od and I guess I’ve gathered all the infos I need except for how much a tatto from wang od will cost. I know that her tattoo service can’t be bought or matched by anything for it is a precious part of our history. That’s how much I appreciate kalingga’s tribal tattoo. But I don’t want to go over there unprepared.. I tried surfing the internet for that info but I can’t find anyone who have posted a thing or two about wang od’s service cost. If you could please tell me or send me some things I have to know, I’ll be forever thankful. 🙂

    1. PinayTraveller says:

      Hi Elly,

      I’m glad you like the post. For the information you need, please check out this post:

      Happy travels!


    2. Journey Jett says:

      Hello Elly,

      I am having this idea of going in Kalinga solo most probably by Feb 8 and back home by feb 10. When are you and your mom going there? This is my first time to ever travel alone, and it’s my bday then.

  30. Do the tattoos have a price? Or something in exchange?

    1. PinayTraveller says:

      Hi Akio,

      PLease read this to get an idea of how much to pay for the tattoos:

      Thanks for dropping by!


  31. Kahriz says:


  32. Hello. I am planning to do an ocular visit para makapag outreach program dito sa remote areas dito sa place na ito. Do you have any contacts? Like a teacher or barangay captain? To know more of our outreach, you can visit this link Hope to hear from you. Never been in this area and planning to mag DIY as di ko yata kaya TF nyo hehehehe thank you so much. This blog is reallly ab g help.

  33. Cecilia says:


    Your website is fantastic. I’ve been to the Philippines once before (Manila, Taal Volcano, Donsol, Palawan) and am planning to return for about 10 days in February. My friend and I are looking for unique experiences, like the Enchanted river in the south, definitely going back to Donsol, and I found this information about going to Kalinga, I’d be interested in a small tattoo like yours with Whang Od, and seeing some of the local rice farming and crafts. We live in Korea (not Korean) and we don’t speak a lick of Tagalog so I’m trying to find some people to guide for certain areas like this. I’m not sure if you’d be available during this time, but we are planning to go from the 9th or so until the 20-23rd, either starting in the north or south, probably starting in the south if I plan to do the tattoo. The tattoo isn’t a major necessity but it would be an honour from such a woman.

    Any information or anything would be great!

    Thank you for your time and consideration!
    Cecilia & Anjali

  34. hi! so thankful that you posted this. it’s really helpful.
    i’ve been searching the net on how to get a tattoo from Whang-Od. your blog came up and found out that you are offering guided tours in Buscalan. i’m interested. do you have any guided tours around March or April?

  35. Hello,
    I would like to get some information on your guided tours to reach Whang Od from Manila.
    This would be somewhere around April 17th-ish, if this is at all possible.
    Though I originally planned to just do this alone, I am not sure if this is even a good idea to begin with.
    Thank you for your time!

  36. Chie Torres says:

    Hi! 🙂
    I’m fascinated with your story about getting inked by whang od. I was wondering if you would be so kind to tour us. We don’t have specific plans yet but I would also love to get inked. Hoping for your reply. 🙂

    Thanks and Regards,

    1. PinayTraveller says:

      Hi Chi,

      Please email me at


  37. Chris Mallari says:

    Hi Pauline,

    the wife and I are planning on going there this April. If you and the hubby are not busy maybe we can get a group together to go? Please let me know.


    1. PinayTraveller says:

      Hi Chris! I’m so sorry but all my weekends are filled up in April.:( (And we can only go on weekends.) Where are you guys based? 🙂

  38. Hi Accidentally stumble upon your blog when I am looking for fellow pinay travel bloggers. i completely loooove your blog. I recently created my travel blog since I had my first ever international travel and I wanted to share my adventure. Your blog is really inspiring. =)

  39. […] I published my story about Getting Inked by Whang Od a couple of years ago, I’ve received numerous e-mails and private messages from people from […]

  40. Michelle says:

    Hi Pauline and Popoy,

    I’m michelle from Manila. I am inspired by your article and I would love to go to buscalan and have my first ever tattoo,hopefully by Whong Od, for the reason that I am encouraged to have a cultural experience with the oldest living tattoo artist. I feel that this may be an exciting and spiritual journey for me. If you are organizing a trip to buscalan, I would love to join you. Thanks

    1. PinayTraveller says:

      Hi Michelle,

      Thank you for your comment. It’s good to hear that you’re interested to have a similar experience. Unfortunately, I am somewhere in Europe at the moment and won’t be back till first week of August. Please keep checking out my FB page to get updates IF we will indeed do guided tours to Buscalan.

      Happy travels!


      1. Michelle Alba says:

        I just had my tattoo done last April. Regarding pomelo thorns, we (our group) asked our local tour guide if we can bring the thorns that was used (to us) as a souvenir. He obliged and prepared new pomelo thorns for us which we brought home as souvenir.

        1. Michelle Alba says:

          I finally did it!

          Last April 30 I had the experienced of getting inked by the Great Whang Od. Though, her eyesight and long queue prohibits her in doing the design (I had mine done by her great grand niece) she did her three dots signature and it was enough for me.

          Thank you for your article, I was introduced and inspired to have my first ever tattoo done by Whang Od which is more meaningful to me.

          God bless and continue writing…..

          1. PinayTraveller says:

            That’s wonderful! I’m soooo happy for you. THank you for your kind words. Do you mind if I share your feedback on the PinayTraveller FB page?


          2. Michelle says:

            Sure! By all means. You may post my comment in your FB page.

  41. How much do you usually charge to be our guide?

    1. PinayTraveller says:

      Hi Bev,

      Unfortunately, I am somewhere in Europe at the moment and won’t be back till first week of August. Please keep checking out my FB page to get updates IF we will indeed do guided tours to Buscalan.

      Happy travels!

  42. Maikho Franco says:

    Hi guys! I would like to join anytime when you organize a trip to Buscalan! Also, I am sorry I cannot find your email address here. I hope you guys could send me an email at I’d love to keep in touch be with the tour! Thanks so much! 🙂

    1. PinayTraveller says:

      Hi Maikho,

      Unfortunately, I am somewhere in Europe at the moment and won’t be back till first week of August. Please keep checking out my FB page to get updates IF we will indeed do guided tours to Buscalan.

      Happy travels!

  43. Enrilyn lee says:

    Hello i would like to ask how much they charge you for each tattoos? Thank you 🙂

  44. Cesli Cagalawan says:

    Good day! My friends and I are interested on getting tattooed by Apo Whang-Od.
    But, we need assistance and how to get there and get back to Manila.
    We plan to leave on Nov.22 early in the morning then get back to Manila. around early afternoon of the 24th so that we could catch our flight.
    We would be willing to pay too!

  45. Carla Jane says:

    Hi, I’ve read your blog and I’m a fan of it by the way. You’re blog is so updated and the information are so complete. I would like to ask for your assistance because I’m really clueless when it comes to places in Luzon. My girlfriend and I are planning to Visit Apo Whang-Od this April and we are planning to boom our flights this October. By the way we are from Cebu City. Can you help us how many days it would take for us to go to Apo Whang-od and also we are planning to Go to Mt. Pulag after going to Buscalan or go to Sagada. I really need help in plotting out itinerary from Manila to Apo Whang od then from there to Mt. Pulag and or Sagada. Hoping you could help us out. Thank you!!

    you can reach me through my email at

    1. PinayTraveller says:

      Hi Carla, not sure if you also wrote me in FB. But thanks for your lovely comment. I hope you made it to Buscalan!

  46. Olga Balais says:

    Hi! Im celebrating my birthday this month and one of the things that i want to do is to be tattooed by Apo Whang-od. Do you know how I can ensure a visit and tattoo session with her when i go to buscalan? 🙂 would appreciate any help 🙂 thank you! 🙂

    1. PinayTraveller says:

      Belated happy birthday! I hope you made it there!

  47. Hello, do you happen to know someone who has a skin condition, like Psoriasis, but still get themselves inked? If yes, how’s their skin now? Thank you. 🙂

  48. […] Photo Credit:Link Here […]

  49. Nicole Clavel says:

    Hi po Ms. Pauline,

    If I’m going to get inked by Whang Od, do I need to pay her? And how much po?

    Salamat po 🙂

  50. Hi, thanks for this amazing post!

    I’m a postgraduate student hoping to make a documentary short film on Whang Od to be shown as my Master’s thesis here in London. As a Filipina with roots in the Cordilleras, I’m hoping to create a film focused on the tradition, the history, and the craft of what Whang Od does, and how she hopes to pass it onto future generations, starting with her granddaughter.

    Is it possible to communicate with you via e-mail just so that I can get some starter tips on how to get in touch with Whang Od to spend a week or so with her for filming and interviews? I would be so grateful for your guidance!

    Many thanks,
    Jill Damatac

  51. jeffrey regala says:

    hi,, i would like just to ask if how much does it cost a tatto done by wang od.. and does it have to make an appointment .. thanks a lot.. God Bless

  52. Hi I just want to ask if you are available in Nov 27 2015
    It’s our anniversary kasi and gusto tlga namen magpatattoo whang od…

  53. Virginia Paulo says:

    I would like to know how to make an appointment with Apo Whang Of please.

  54. Patrick John Avisado says:

    magkano po mgpatattoo kay Apo Wang Od?

  55. Erica Quemado says:

    Hello! Tanong ko lang po kung magkano yung expenses ninyong dalawa all in at ilang araw po kayo nagstay? Me and my boyfriend have been planning about this for a while now. Wala lang kami matanungan na friends. Thanks in advance!

    1. This is absolutely gold. I was not expecting that I’d get so much out of reading your write up! You’ve just earned yourself a returning visitor VA:F [1s]p17_11619.lea.e wait…

  56. Hi,
    I want to go to Apo Whang Od. Ive been dreaming to for years now. But I do not know where to start. Im planning to go to Baguio for the thansgiving. But what bus to ride? And where to? Or is there anybody who can accomodate me? Your journey and experience may come handy. Thanks.

  57. Via Rai Meli Karshick says:

    Hello:) I am half Filipino and half European. My mother is from Malasiqui, Pangasinang Philippines. I visited when I was 15. My mother and I are going back in March 2016 to bury my Auntie, and the ONE thing I wanted was to get a traditional tattoo from Whang-od. Do you know how I can contact her or someone that can put me in touch with her? This may be our last time going back home and i would very much like to have a piece of my heritage with me. Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.

  58. How much is her fee?

  59. dave says:

    i prefer this kind of tattoo, not just for fashion

    Playgroup Singapore

  60. Hi. How to get to Apo Whang Od’s place? I really want to get tattoed by her. And how much does the tattoo costs you? Pls email me. Thank you.

  61. jb Montesclaros says:

    hi! thanks for the nice info you have given us!! how much do you think it would cost everything starting to manila and back? and i was wondering how much does whang od inks cost? thanks!

  62. julium lejjena says:

    I am planning to get a tattoo. I want to drive my big bike there. My question is where do I park it if I want to stay a night.
    thank you


  63. Charlie says:

    Hi! May I ask how to get to Whang od’s place? My and my partner are planning to get inked by her.

  64. […] (Photo Credit: […]

  65. How did u chatted grace by the way?? Im planning to go to tinglayan but do we still need some tour guide? I am a rider so can we use our motorcycle to go to tinglayan??

    1. PinayTraveller says:

      Hi. Wondering if you made it to Tinglayan. Give us an update!

  66. Shanon Cloe says:

    Hi, I am a nursing student from the University of the Cordilleras and we are conducting a research about the people who have been tattooed by the traditional tattoo artist like Whang Od. I was hoping if you could be a part of our research since you have been a client of Whang Od. We would be conducting an interview with you, with your experience when you were getting the tattoo. I am hoping for your response. Thank you

    1. PinayTraveller says:

      Hi Shanon. I hope this is not too late. Sure, I’d be glad to help you out with your research. Shoot me an e-mail at 🙂

  67. Randy says:

    How do you go about making an appointment with her?

    1. PinayTraveller says:

      Hello Randy. Most people just go to her. She normally accommodates everyone. 🙂

  68. CADEN FOO says:

    Hi Randy. i’m Caden. Thank so much that info in your blog. Well done. I’m very interested in whang Od’s tattoo design. So i plan to go there to get one also. But the thorn picked from the lemon tree that i concern more. May i know is it always will replace a new one after one used??? Thank you.

    1. Hi caden, I just saw your question here and even I am not the one you’re asking I would like to help you. Based on our experience, the young ones (Grace, Elyang and others) are cautious and always replacing the thorn, however, Apo wang od is different. During our time (February 2017) she just replaced the thorn when I asked the guide to tell her to replace the thorn. She replaced it right away…. you must insist it because I think she really don’t change it not unless insisted.

      1. PinayTraveller says:

        Hi Kat! Thank you so much for that info and for answering Caden. I’m glad you were able to get you tats. Happy travels!

        1. Lou says:

          Honestly, I was there end november 2015 it was a Filipino holiday, the place was flooded with people wanting to get tats ( 25+ queue at apo, 15+ at grace and elyang).
          In the period I was there despite the huge amount of people Whang Od changed the thorn with each and every one of them.
          You have absolutely nothing to worry about, this is an experience of a lifetime.

          1. PinayTraveller says:

            That’s good to know, Lou. Thanks for letting us know about it!


          2. CADEN FOO says:

            Omg. That’s a lot of people to wait. hahaha ok. thanks Lou for your info also.
            Besides, i’m still finding a tour guide to that place. Any tour guide contact that you can recommend me?? I have tried give them a call but those numbers i unable to access them. How you contact them?? Do they use watsaap? Email?

          3. Lou says:

            I did Manila – Baguio – Bontoc by bus, went to the jeepneypoint to get to Tinglayan first. Clearly in Bontoc they’re not used to see foreigners, especially 6’5 ones.
            We had decided to spend a night in Tinglayan first, I can’t remember the name but there were only 2 “hotels” at that time. It was 200pesos a night I believe. This hotel had a guide sitting outside, I think his name was Victor and he set us up with his son to guide us.
            There are a bunch of guides in Tinglayan too, so I didn’t feel like you really needed to book one up front.
            As we arrived at the drop off point ( we hiked all the way, no habal habal for the first mile ) there were also a bunch of guides sitting there.
            I think they know how popular she is and are pretty much waiting daily for people to go see her.

      2. CADEN FOO says:

        Wow. Really?? Thanks Kat for replying my question. Ya for sure i will insist them to replace a new one. Besides, i’m still finding a tour guide to that place. Any tour guide contact that you can recommend me?? I have tried give them a call but those numbers i unable to access them. How you contact them?? Do they use watsaap? Email?

  69. Great post! Have nice day ! 🙂 otnwe

    1. PinayTraveller says:

      Thank you! You, too!

  70. Hello! I love the tattoo. New lng un sa akin.. Pwede ko po ba makita your healed tattoo po? Thank you!

  71. barry says:

    hi. my name is Barry and I don’t have any training in mountain climbing or trekking but I really want to climb that peak going to apo whang od. I’m not really fit, do u think I cna manage to climb the mountain successfully? or would u suggest not to? but I’m. really eager to give it a try.

    1. PinayTraveller says:

      Hi Barry. Perhaps a couple of days of trekking before you actually go to Whang Od would help. But there’s really no need to train. 🙂 I was also not very fit but I was able to do it. Just take your time and enjoy the trek.

    2. Barry, I’m 196cm and was about 140kg at that point when I did it. The trek itself is not much, you just go up a ton of “stairs” in the second part.
      If you want to prepare yourself, just do a ton of stairs and take it slow. Before going there you could test going up the Taal trail or Mt Pinatubo trek, they are much more demanding than this walk.
      You do not need any actual training to reach her.

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