Getting my first traditional tattoo at Buscalan

Getting my first traditional tattoo at Buscalan

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Buscalan is a village in Tingalayan, Kalinga. Famous for its traditional tattoo and home of the oldest tattoo artist – Apo Whang-od. A mixture of charcoal and water is used for the ink then tapped into the skin using the thorn of pomelo or calamansi.

Our journey to Buscalan

View from Buscalan
View from Buscalan

After our visit from Sagada, we headed to our DIY trip to Buscalan. All of us haven’t try to have a tattoo.

Alex tattoo session at Buscalan
Alex tattoo session at Buscalan

How to get to Buscalan?

  • From Sagada, ride a jeep going to Bontoc. (1 hour)
  • From Bontoc, ride a jeep going to Buscalan. (2 to 3 hours)
  • From the junction to Buscalan, trek for 1 hour to reach the village
Sun and Moon
Sun and Moon

Mandatory to have a guide before you can trek to the village. You can ask some locals where to find a guide once you arrived at the junction. 1 guide is required for a maximum of 5 people. But it is advisable to book a guide in advance. We are just lucky to find villager at the junction to be our guide.

Hanah, Alex, and Nathaniel waiting in line for Apo Whang-od
Hanah, Alex, and Nathaniel waiting in line for Apo Whang-od

After the one hour trek, we reached the village and proceed to the registration and pay for the registration fees. Then we proceed to our homestay and take rest.

Alex with Apo Whang-od
Alex with Apo Whang-od

Due to that, there are lots of tourists on that day, we have decided to ask someone to do the tattooing on us at night. We have tight schedule and will leave before lunch on the next day to catch the jeep back to Bontoc.

Nathaniel tattoo session with Apo Whang-od

The tattoo I ask to put is “Traveler” at night and “Sun and Moon” early in the morning.

Nathaniel and Apo Whang-od
Nathaniel and Apo Whang-od

Lining up to get the signature tattoo from the Legendary Apo Whang-od is like a bit of luck. Especially if there are lots of tourists. Thanks to our guide that she arrange our session with Apo Whang-od.

Hanah with Apo Whang-od
Hanah with Apo Whang-od

After each session with the Apo Whang-od, we have the opportunity to take photos with her. 🙂

Nathaniel top load ride
Nathaniel top load ride

The cost of each tattoo depends on the design and size. Small will cost around 300-500 pesos and for bigger design may be more than 1000 pesos.

Rice Terraces View at the road
Rice Terraces View at the road

Some other tips:

  • Kalinga home brew coffee are unlimited.
  • No mobile signal at the village.
  • Homestay is available in the village.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Romans 12:12
Getting my first traditional tattoo at Buscalan
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