The road to Buscalan in the province of Kalinga, located in Cordellira Philippines, was not an easy journey. Apart from unpaved steep roads, the place is landslide prone, too. But the fear has eventually vanished by the scenic views of lush mountains and rivers, air gliding on my face whilst on the top load of a vehicle together with the locals. They became my tour guide and it was really enjoyable. My only thought was to meet the oldest tattoo artist in the Philippines. I’ve been fascinated with Philippine tribes and not to mention my love for tattoos, which lead me to see her in person.
I was honored to be invited to stay in Whang –od's house. This also gave me a chance to know more of her up close and personal.
The day has arrived for me to receive my Kalinga tattoo. I was second in line and I was able to watch Whang od do what she does first. They've been using "tinik ng suha" citrus tree thorn for centuries. She tapped approximately 100 times per minute, blood coming out of those lines, thorns sharp as sewing needles. Thinking about that going in and out of your skin just sends chill on my spine. Whang od told them that it’s a serious religious experience.
I can feel every single prick on that thorn needle going in my skin that sometimes it grabs my skin and pulls it up. It punctured my skin, it hurted a lot, but I endured it. She was going on the same area over and over again, and she’s really driving in the pigment really deep.
I had difficulty getting through that moment, and look how tiny my tattoo is. Can you imagine Whang od when she had all her arms tattooed on her body, which took 3 days to have it done?