Apo Whang-Od

Apo Whang-Od, 99, is known to be the Last Mambabatok (traditional tattoo artist) of the tribe.Many people, locals and foreigners, would brave the mountains of Tinglayan, Kalinga to experience having a tattoo the Whang-Od’s way. FYI it’s pronounced as Fang-Od.

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I can still recall my experience in Buscalan in details! After having lunch around 2PM, we decided to drop by Apo Whang-Od’s tattoo site, which is just a few minutes down from the Buscalan Elementary School, for a quick group pic with her. There was a long queue by the time we got there. There were 4 foreigners waiting since lunch time and other local travellers.

I was really, really starstruck upon seeing her. I don’t wanna sound OA, but I was in the verge of crying for I was super overwhelmed by her presence. I was like, OMG she’s just a few inches away. We’re breathing the same air!!

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Shameless sneaky pose! *excuse the haggard face*

 

As you may have already heard, this traditional way of getting inked is very unhygienic. She uses pomelo thorn as needle, which is disposed afterwards per person, soot as ink and  a bamboo as hammer.

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Upon arrival, this kuya‘s tattoo was in progress and this was Whang-Od, doing her thang! BADASS!!

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BLOODY HELL!!!

But don’t let that gruesome image stop you from having one from her. It’s all worth the pain!

I badly wanted to have my first tatt from Whang-Od. I had my designs ready but time did not permit, since there was already a long line, I settled for her “signature” so I can still go home with something. The system was, those who will be having major tattoos and those who will be having the signature only, will be done alternately by Whang-Od.

The signature symbolizes Apo Whang-Od herself, Grace, her grandniece and Ilyang who’s also another relative, to whom she passed her mambabatok skills. BTW, Whang-Od chose the single life.

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Designs you can choose from which have different meanings.

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While waiting, I saw this. Younger Whang-Od, so charming.

My turn came and I sat in front of her. She was kind of laughing and saying something inaudible and all I was able to get was “liit liit“. Yes, I’m such a little girl. And it’s as if she’s saying whether I’ll be able to bear the pain. I had no idea but one thing’s for sure, I was so down for it.

First, she changed the needle. Then she would draft the tattoo first with ink and soft stick, though mine was just 3 dots. It didn’t hurt that much. Well, it really depends on the person’s pain tolerance and on which part you want to put the tattoo. Whang-Od would decline to put tattoo on certain areas, such as the side rib, because there were instances when some passed out. But if you really want to have it on that part, you can have either Grace or Ilyang do it for you. Their hands have better control compared to Whang-Od.

During the process, I was really more kilig than hurt. It lasted for about 2 minutes or so. If she’s not yet satisfied, she’d do another round of pokes to darken the tattoo.

 

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This part is when blood gushed out for she most likely hit a nerve.
[Will link the tattoo once I have uploaded it. You have to hear the hitting.]

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Apo Whang-Od, immortalized on my flesh.

 

Quick tips:

  1. Bring your own wet wipes and hand it to her. There’s a tendency that she’d reuse.
  2. As what I’ve read, bring matches and goods for them. Apart from our donation, I gave her a cardigan which she wrapped around her waist immediately.
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  3. Ask the price after the tatt is done.
  4. You can stay overnight for P250. Some of the local’s houses were designed to let tourists in. It’s inclusive of unli coffee and unli rice. Just bring food you can share with them. If ever you’re planning of going, I suggest you stay the night for socials and catch the sunrise (which I’ll do next time.) Veryyy lovely view!
  5. Pack light for easier trek! You don’t want to fall off the cliff, doncha?
  6. Go on weekdays! Less people lining up for a tattoo.
  7. I forgot my other tips! Just go all out for adventure! YASSSS!
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Such a wonderful experience! May you live longer and leave your marks on more people.

 

 

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The volunteers with Whang-Od.

 

 

Will surely go back.

 

sgn

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HAIKU 020216: Because we don’t talk anymore

This song is on loop
Stikes right into the bullseye
What really happened?

Unending topics
I enjoyed the nonsense more
Always cracks me up!

Thankful you were there
You’re my sweetest distraction
Miss you terribly

Was challenged by you
You’re able to outwit me
I love your humor

Your witty remarks
Puns only us understand
As if own language

Those times i long for
Unpopular opinions
Do you miss me too?

We haven’t met tho
Yet i find you a good friend
Cheer me up again.

I miss your updates
Your random thoughts and insults
I know you miss me

 Laro. Likha. Lakbay: Alay sa Buscalan

 Play. Create. Travel.

I consider this as my first solo travel. By solo, I mean I was not with someone I know.

So, I stumbled upon this FB event, Laro. Likha. Lakbay: Alay sa Buscalan and I became interested right away.

LLL

My first and undeniable thought: APO WHANG-OD!! I’ve been wanting to go there and I failed to go so last January and upon landing on this event, I just can’t let go of the idea of joining. People, well, my mom and some friends, were skeptic because I don’t know these people since it’s an open invitation but what didn’t scare me was, it’s for a good cause, an outreach project for the Butbut Tribe of Buscalan. I’ve been wanting to initiate one but I just can’t get to gather people and resources to carry out such a charity event. And so, I paid the down payment right away to reserve my slot.

Alay sa Buscalan, an outreach project held by Silip-Lente Wanderlost is spearheaded by Ms. Aizel Lacdao. She was constantly updating us through our group chat. She was also selling shirts to raise funds and encouraged us for our personal donations. So i gathered my used clothes that i have already sepated before for donation.

The day came, Friday, August 19, 2016. Meetup in Cubao, 10pm. I actually had no idea what to expect. When I was already in Cubao, I approached the wrong group of backpackers! I wanted the earth to crack open and eat me up alive. This group was heading up to a different mountain, I forgot what.

 Finally, I met my co-volunteers. I found out that they’ve already known each other because of the trips Miss Aizel has organized before and this one’s the third. Half of the volunteers backed out the last minute. Sad.

We drove off past midnight. Chatted a little (and by little, I mean, almost half of my life) with my new found buddy, Camille, before finally deciding to doze off to sleep.

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*signature pose*

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That was a butt-numbing, jumpy, bumpy, winding, 12-hour ride! Finally, past 11AM, we reached this point. Hello, Kalinga!

We headed to Sir Vincent’s, one of the volunteers as well, residence in Bulanao, Tabuk where we stayed overnight. We had our late lunch then siesta and by nightfall, we prepared our donations for the next day’s outreach activity. I got to know their stories as well, the places they’ve gone to, and how we commonly itch to travel.

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Repacking goodies!!!

We were able to pack around 200+ bags of school supplies, and family packs.

We were supposed to set off by 3AM. However, that was the time we woke up. Ooops! As they were preparing the breakfast, we started to prepare the egg sandwiches we’re going to distribute to the kids. Had quick brekky then left around 5AM.

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Stop over @ 88 Bangyan House

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awesome stone house

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OMG I wanna pet one!

 

 

I was torn between sleeping and taking most of the view. Thankfully, Camille would wake me up so I won’t miss the breath-taking scenery. Thanks, bes!

 

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Gahhh sea of clouds!

 

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Post-cardish

Approximately 3 hours to get to the drop off point of vehicles, right before where they operate the tramline, which they use to transfer goods or even themselves across the mountains. From that point, the 30-minute trek begins.

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Apologies for blocking the view.

At first, when I heard that it would be a 30-min trek, I eyed the distance to where they were pointing, our destination, and it seemed like miles from where I stood. I don’t think I was emotionally and physically ready for this. I thought the van could go up or habal-habal, at least. But knowing myself, I’m G to whatever adventure there is and so, challenge accepted.

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ERRR… excuse le face.

So, this was me, carrying a box, which kind of caused my struggle  in balancing and seeing my steps because the trail was narrow and is along the edge of the cliff that one wrong step would be goodbye world. This was my second trekking experience and this one’s different because the trail is not  going up to the summit. I was very nervous, especially crossing the cemented, narrow bridge without railings. My heart was pumping thrice than it should be. Here’s where the guide told us that the Souvenir Shop’s just 5 minutes away.

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Steep! Quick stop while waiting for the others. Catching up my breath.

 

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The souvenir shop!

 

 

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Bought this for Php 5. The longest thorn I saw but I don’t think Apo uses this one.

 

From the Souvenir Shop, we trekked some more heading to the Buscalan Elementary School.

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Funny how these baboy ramo’s (wild boars) were scattered all over the place as if dogs, I mean, not locked in pig pens. On the way up, children were following us and peeking into our bags of goodies and they were all giddy upon seeing the toys.

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We had the children lined up first. There were about 90 of them and the teachers said that this batch is just a fourth of the total number of students. Thanks to our tour guide, Kuya Freddie, who helped us to translate our instructions to the kids because they don’t seem to be well-versed in Tagalog.

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First, we distributed shirts and candies to the kids and for the mothers as well.  It took a long while to transport the other donations up and so we played next.

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The first game was The Longest Line where the kids have to make the longest line using whatever they have with them.

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And they were topless one by one haha!

 

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The next game was Group Yourselves…

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…which tested their friendhips. HAHA!

 

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Photo credit: Sir Paul

To cut the story short, this has been an amazing experience for me. SUPERRR!!!  From getting to know these good souls, my co-volunteers, to the longest drive I’ve had so far, to going up the moutains and interacting with the tribe, seeing the smiles on their faces made me forget the freaking trek, and to having my first tattoo by Apo Whang-Od!!

Thank God, I was able to go home safe and sound. More of this, please. I want to be an instrument of Your goodness that I may be a blessing to others. My heart swells and everything was worth it. Amen.

 

sgn

 

Don’t eat where you sh*t.

So, here’s a separate blogpost as a review for Boracay Toilet Restaurant.

Like what I’ve said in my previous post, #WhenInBoracay, we rushed here as soon as we were on the island because we were already friggin’ hungry! It’s located on the second floor of the establishment. Upon entering, you’ll see this staircase full of vandals all over the walls. I like the concept of the place, very witty.

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The seats are of toilet bowls while tables are of sinks and bath tubs. Restroom signages are all over the place.

Seeing the menu would make you forego of your beach body! They have a witty way of naming their dishes.

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While waiting for our food, I took the time to take photos.

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This is my fave! The Hall of Toilet Seats.

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#constipated

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Apologies for being shitty sometimes!

Finally!!! Food!

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Kare-KaDire

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Buffalo WEE-WEEngs

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Crispy Pork Binag-UU-ngan.

Ironic how appetizing it still looks!

Food  (taste & presentation) –  8/10
Serving Size – 6/10
Ambiance – 9/10
Service – 9/10
Sanitation – 9/10
Price (if worth the serving and taste) – 7/10

Bon Appetit!

 

XX,
Vajhellica ♥

#WhenInBoracay

This post is long overdue.

My friend called me and she said she’s booking for Bora and I said yes right away even when I was not yest financially ready. November 2015 – we were booked to Kalibo via Air Asia. I was with 2 of my highschool amigas and we were too stoked for this.

Boracay is known for being one of the tourist attractions in the Philippines because of its fine white sand, water sports and the crazy night life. It has received various awards being one of the best beaches there is. It is located near northwest tip of Panay Island, in western Visayas.

 

DAY 1

This was second of my trips and was my first plane ride! After about an hour, we finally landed on Kalibo.We paid a total of P175 each for terminal and environmental fees.  From there, we took a van to Caticlan Jetty Port.

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Me, Dana & Lady. Touchdown Kalibo!

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Van to Caticlan Jetty Port

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Boat ride @ Caticlan Jetty Port

Once in Boracay, the first thing we went to is Boracay Toilet Restaurant in Station 1, which is along the main road, because we were starving already.  The place was super awesome with restroom-inspired interior.They serve diversed choices of meals that are good for sharing.

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Read more:  Don’t eat where you shit.

After lunch, we finally headed off to our hotel, Crown Regency Resort and Convention Center, which was availed by my friend on Metrodeal.com which was for 3D/2N accommodation. It was a room with 2 beds and a balcony, overlooking the wave pool.

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We had a few drinks on our first night and we strolled around the place.

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Poi dancers

 

The next morning, I got up early and took a dip in the pool with my friend, Lady, as Dana was still sound asleep.

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Pak Ganern!

 

We then prepared for lunch at Two Seasons, suggested by friends. We ordered their famous 4-cheese pizza, pesto pasta and lengua sisig.

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I had henna tattoo on my back for P100.

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The major activity for today…HELMET DIVING!!!

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As far as I can remember, the facilitator said,  helmet weighs 25kg and under water, it will only feel like 10kg. He also said that in case we feel that as if our ears were clogged due to the pressure, we should pinch our nose and try to blow from our ears. I asked him how deep it is, he said it’s about 10 feet.

The next day’s activities were Banana Boat which we got for Php 1,250 for all of us and Parasailing for Php 1,200/pax.

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Banana boat was super fun and jumpy. I chose to be seated on the last spot just for the heck of it.. Dang, you really have to hold on tight unless you wanna be left in the middle of the sea.

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…but sickened afterwards. HAHA!

We were brought to the station where our speedboat for parasailing awaited us.

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Up, up and away!

I was frantic as we were getting higher and higher. I’m acrophobic, aryt? While hanging up there, I was taking most of the view and at the same time I was paranoid that what if the harness snaps? I wasn’t able to take a shot from there cos I fear I might drop the gopro and miss everything in there and indeed, “What happens in Bora, stays in Bora”.  It was such an experience!

Night 2, we had a drinking session in our hotel room and my friend decided to straighten my hair and then, we sent out, strolled and drunk some more.

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DAY 3

Last day in Bora. I felt bad for not being able to try G-Max, the reverse bungy, for my friends weren’t into such crazy activities as much as I do. I swear I will try it the next time I set foot in Bora.

We checked out and had sumptuous brunch in Gypsea Shack, Station 2 Main Road. It is actually located inside this place which Gypsea Shack is one of the sub-restaus inside. I super love the artsy vibes of the place. The food was 9/10. They also serve cocktails. The staff were very warm.  I’ve seen in posts that they hold parties at night. Too bad, it was too late when we figured about this and we’re just about to leave. This one’s really a must try!

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We left the island with indeed a happy tummy. 3 days weren’t enough, I wanted to experience more of the place but of course, I need to consider my budget and my work back in Manila. For 3 days, I spent approx Php 7,000 (excluding air fare and accommodation). I guess it wasn’t bad at all (or is it?) for everything was totally worth it!

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And what made this trip more fun was being with my highschool amigas!

Till next time, Bora!

 

So much Love,
Vajhellica ♥