I GOT A TATTOO FROM A 100 YEAR OLD TRADITIONAL TATTOO ARTIST

in travel •  last year

You guys might already have noticed from my profile that I do like to travel. A LOT. I just went back to my hometown a couple of months ago and now my feet's already itching to go somewhere. Wanderlust is real, people. Once you get the taste of travel, and when you travel right, you will never want to stop. You will definitely miss home, but then you'll realize, the world is your home.

Now I have made a personal promise to myself that I will never ever go out of the country until I have traveled the Philippine provinces that are on my list, which is gonna take a while. One of them is Tinglayen, Buscalan.

Some of you might already know why Buscalan is on my list but for those who don't know yet, Buscalan is a small town located in the Cordillera Region of Luzon. It is the home of the 100-year-old, I repeat, 100-year-old traditional tattoo artist of the Philippines named Apo Wang Od. And SHE still lives up to this day.

Now going to Tinglayen, Buscalan is not a joke. It consists of a 10-12 hour bus ride from Manila, the country's capital, going to Bontoc.

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From Bontoc, you will have to catch another bus or jeepney and make a 2-hour journey to Tinglayen. You have two types of adventure to choose from there. You can either sit normally inside the bus or the jeepney, or sit on top of it to get the most of the view.

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As you can see, I did the latter. Did the same on my way back. Never regretted my decision. I mean, just look at these sceneries.

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Once you reach the Tinglayen, you'll have to get off the bus (of course) and take a 20-minute motorcycle ride. After that, you'll have to trek for about an hour going up to the village which is on the top of the mountain.

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See what I did there? hehehe

Anyways, man oh man it was such a long journey, I can call it a pilgrimage. But when I arrived at the village, along with my sweaty face and burning legs and feet, the sound of the bamboo and wood stick tapping magically made my face beam so much, I felt so much joy and I forgot all the exhaustion. I stayed there for a couple of nights. I was accommodated together with a few more people in a beautiful homestay at the end of the village where we got the most insane view of the rice fields. Plus the owner let me borrow his guitar. How cool was that?

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Now let's go to the tattooing part. I'd upload a lot more pictures to share with you guys but I don't want to make this post longer.

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This is Apo Wang Od. She is a "Living Legend" and a Philippine National Treasure. The last of what we call, "mambabatok", who does traditional tattooing by the consistent tapping of charcoal ink through the skin with the use of a plant thorn and bamboo/wood stick. I got 3 tattoos from the village overall. She did my serpent eagle tattoo.

I can never describe enough how wonderful and astonishing my trip was. I had to disconnect to the world. That was my goal when I went to Buscalan. But not only I disconnect to the (digital) world, I got even more connected to the real world. This tribe have been living in the village for hundreds of years, maintaining their tradition, values, and culture. And I was lucky to experience that. I will definitely go back. This place is just magical in its own humble ways.

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Hope you guys enjoyed this post. If you need a more detailed iterinary of the trip and other information, I will be very more than willing to share them with you.

Cheers,
R

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It was! Thank you for reading! :D