Monday, December 31, 2012

Kalinga: Buscalan’s Wang-Od, the Pretty Tattoo Artist









Having seen news in CNN about the oldest tattoo artist in my country, Philippines, left many thoughts in my curious mind. People said there is a documentary in Discovery Channel or in National Geographic. I have never seen it. So I decided to leave my mind curious about her. I never tried to google her, ever, because I was waiting for the right time for me to reach her place. Meeting her up close was something I was excited about. Getting inked by her is an ultimate desire of authenticity of my being.





Finally, I touched the land of Kalinga; Tinglayan in particular. But Whang-od (or Fang-od, as pronounced by the natives), live in far away Buscalan.





A two-hour trek on a drizzly morning was filled with enthusiasm. I did not feel any hardship of passing thru steep slippery mud. I did not look down and see how deep the cliffs were below me, but looked up at the beautiful highlands with pine trees instead, exactly how Calayan’s Nagudungan Hill looked like. In my view, the rice terraces of this place, was far more sustained than that of the famous ones in Ifugao.





Then there she was, busy with her artwork, not to be disturbed.

I watched her as she stroked her hand with a stick to get the design on the travellers’ skin.

After a day’s work of four people getting inked, she stood. I thought she rested.

I saw her feeding her native black pigs and piglets. At 92 years old, she had this strength of getting on with her daily living. I was watching where she would go. I asked what food she eats. Salt and sugar are not in her list.









I showed her my design for the tattoo. She said something translated as: “If I ink this on your arm, many will come chasing you. It is beautiful.” I laughed and excitedly told her, “So be it.” J

She prepared to cook the rice for our meal that night. I sat beside her, as I cooked a little bit of dinner, eggs, noodles and corned beef. Her other two sisters were there too. I tried to start some chat, as their granddaughter Emily, was there to translate. It was a fun cooking moment. After cooking, Fang-od, peeled off some sweet kamote, for feeding to the pigs the next day.

In the morning, I chanced upon her, cooking rice for breakfast. After which, she prepared the meal for her pigs and piglets.


I was getting ready to be tattooed, and there she was already, preparing the stuffs: Ash from burnt bark of pine trees, a needle like thorn from a citrus tree, and a bamboo stick.





I watched her eye as she looked at my arm. She painted the design. The sound of her sticks beside my ear still lingers now. Un~ending hymn of “Toktoktoktok.”




I remember her wiping her eyes of tiredness. She would re-do, re-ink to perfect the picture on my arm. She would laugh at me whenever I scream in pain. She would pinch my skin and smile.



Her sense of humor in her own language would have given me instant laughter instead of a delayed one after a translation. She told her nieces who were around at that time: “Get pregnant by the man you marry and not just anyone else.”


She remains single until now. She admitted that she had been kissed. But never touched. J We would be giggling as she tells the story in her own language, as if I understood. She jokingly told me, “My parents did not like my suitors.” I told her, “You can have a boyfriend now, your parents would not know.” She replied, “I am old and not pretty anymore.” I told her, “Oh, you are beautiful.” And I touched her tattooed arms. And we would giggle together.





I helped her remove her first clothing over five blouses. There, exposed are the tattoos in her arms and neck, and nape. Oh wow.



After her authentic artwork in me, I gave her my headware. She immediately wore it. She would wrap her arms around me spontaneously and touch my face with her skilled hands.


How I wish I could talk her language and understand every word she utters. I am more interested in her life than anything else.


I would love to live till 92 like her.

In the morning, at four, I went out to see the moon brightly lighting the mountains, as the clouds passed by it. If this were what Fang-Od had been seeing her entire life for her to reach her age now, then, I wish I lived here. If it were the tattoos on her sleeves that made her reach her age, then I’d like to be tattooed that way too. If it is because of her skill, then I would like to learn being a “mambabatok.”










Too much for daydreams. There can only be one: the authentic oldest, kicking & alive, tattoo artist, making the tribal tattoo alive to this day; the pretty fun lady “mambabatok,” Whang-Od, Wang-Od, or Fang-od. Oh how deeply honored I am to be inked by her.



Let her tribal spirits live in my tattoo.




You can read more of How To Go:

Kalinga's Whang-Od: How To See Buscalan's Oldest Tribal Tattoo Artist




******
For those who wish to see her and reach her for an ink, please leave a message at https://www.facebook.com/journeyingpinay ~ i can tell you how to go there.

Thank you to those who inquired and had the guts to ask me thru sms, you rock. Hope you got a tatt now.

38 comments:

Reiza said...

Heiz, how lucky of you not only to have met her, but be inked by her! I'm envious. Wish I had your knack for going out of your way for authentic exotic encounters. Kudos, girl!

Journeying Pinay said...

thank you Reiza. lezz go together next time and be judged as foreigners. i would really love that. and adorn ourselves with hippie gypsy ways!

Christeen Cereno said...

Lucky girl :) I cannot imagine getting a tattoo at this time but given a chance like yours is something I think would obliged me to get inked.

Anonymous said...

Hey! It was fun hiking with you in the mountains of Kalinga. :) Galing ni Whang Od!

Kalinga Weaving said...

Hello mam heiz!
sorry po at di kita nagawan ng stick for your batok, congratulations!

Kalinga Weaving said...

Hello mam heiz!
sorry po at di kita nagawan ng stick for your batok, congratulations!

Ryan Mach said...

Hi Journeying Pinay. I've been interested to know the rate of the tattoo. Thank you in advance!

Paula O said...

Heiz! the ultimate cultural experience I must say! :-)

Journeying Pinay said...

heya! it was a very scenic trek isnt it? inspite of the death defying cliffs! worth the trek! see you on the same road for more tatts! :D

Journeying Pinay said...

Hello there! that is allright. so you owe me one, when i have my 3rd tatt, huh? Thanks!

Journeying Pinay said...

unli--paulit ulit! lol. that's okay! see you again!

Journeying Pinay said...

Hello Ryan. It depends on the design of the tattoo. Minimum is P500. Go get one!

Journeying Pinay said...

ikr Paula! ouchie!

Journeying Pinay said...

Heya Christeen. had to conceptualize significance for it. getting inked permanently should symbolize something, i thought. :)

Smarla said...

Woooow sobrang ganda Ate Heiz! Nattempt ako but parang sobrang sakit :P

Bonzenti |Con Tour Blog said...

Saludo na ako sa yo Heiz. Sakit niyang tatoo.

ava said...

Hi there! May matutulugan ba dun? :-) Planning to go there in Feb. Thanks Journeying Pinay!

Journeying Pinay said...

not really much Smarla. baka low lang ang tolerance ko sa pain. pero i think i got feverish after, as i ad two.one on my arm, one on my leg. go get one when you have reached the peak of your career. people still somehow have biases on inks on skins.

Journeying Pinay said...

hi Bonz. hahaha Thanks. it was painful-- for me ha? hindi ako sanay nang nasasaktan as i am so cautious. pero eto? ouchie.

Journeying Pinay said...

hello Ava. you can sleep at Fang-Od's house. and pay some.:)

Pietro Santiago said...

Hi Journeying Pinay.

How do my friends and i go about getting a tattoo from Whang-Od? Do we just trek to her place and ask her to tattoo us or do we have to contact someone beforehand?

We're planning to get our tattoos from her this April, i hope you get to reply to this as soon as possible.

Journeying Pinay said...

hello. please read my post about Francis Pai-in, the tour guide. He is the one who will bring you to Whang-od! Have fun!

Pietro Santiago said...

Alright. Cool. Thank you very much Journeying Pinay.

Journeying Pinay said...

Yes you trek to her place, from Butbut.it is a 2 hour trek for me.am a slow walker.

the she-wolf said...

hi ma'am :) from tinglayan, is the trail to fanf oud quite easy to find?

Journeying Pinay said...

from tinglayan, ride a jeep to butbut, then walk to buscalan.quite far.it took me 2 hours to trek that.

the she-wolf said...

astig :) excited na ako :) can i do a weekender there?

Journeying Pinay said...

hi she wolf.thank you for the sms inquiries. yes you can be a weekendwarrior. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi. Awesome post. I would really like to know how much her art costs? I would sell my left healthy kidney to get inked by her. I'd even throw in a piece of my liver if I have to. ^_^

Ian Limbonis said...

hazelllllll bat di mo ko sinama dito. ehehe

the she-wolf said...

due to bad weather and some priorities, na move ng na move but this time, it's final on january 2015! i'll be hitching with a friend!

thanks for this post and thanks for everything!

Janen Pearl Yulo said...

I WOULD LIKE TO GO THERE..I WANT TO BE TATTOTED FIRST BY HER..CAN SOMEONE HAVE A SCHEDULE TO GO THERE THIS APRIL.CAN I GO WITH YOU????

THANK YOU SOO MUCH...

Janen Pearl Yulo said...

I WOULD LIKE TO GO THERE..I WANT TO BE TATTOTED FIRST BY HER..CAN SOMEONE HAVE A SCHEDULE TO GO THERE THIS APRIL.CAN I GO WITH YOU????

THANK YOU SOO MUCH...

Janen Pearl Yulo said...

I WOULD LIKE TO GO THERE..I WANT TO BE TATTOTED FIRST BY HER..CAN SOMEONE HAVE A SCHEDULE TO GO THERE THIS APRIL.CAN I GO WITH YOU????

THANK YOU SOO MUCH...

Janen Pearl Yulo said...

I WOULD LIKE TO GO THERE..I WANT TO BE TATTOTED FIRST BY HER..CAN SOMEONE HAVE A SCHEDULE TO GO THERE THIS APRIL.CAN I GO WITH YOU????

THANK YOU SOO MUCH...

Janen Pearl Yulo said...

I WOULD LIKE TO GO THERE..I WANT TO BE TATTOTED FIRST BY HER..CAN SOMEONE HAVE A SCHEDULE TO GO THERE THIS APRIL.CAN I GO WITH YOU????

THANK YOU SOO MUCH...

Maine Silva said...

At 20 years of existence never crossed in my mind that I will be this eager to get a tattoo. Kindly please tell me if what buses should i take from Cubao Manila to Whang Od and how long will it takes? I would risk my life just to have a tattoo lol.

Kind regards,
Sharmaine

atoi panerio said...

so much to read/info here. thanks. going there for my tatt 07'16