December 28, still, at Buscalan Village.
It was time to get a tattoo! Grace is the grand daugther of Fang-Od (by Fang-Od's sister). She's the only one in the tribe/village who is interested in continuing Fang-Od's tattooing legacy. However, she's pretty much influenced by today's trends (she says "Boom Panis") unlike Fang Od, who spent most of her life inking warriors and villagers.
The mambabatok's tools include bamboos, thorns, and charcoal. Grace and Fang Od sketch out the artwork using charcoal first, and then they do "batok" to ink it into the skin. It's somehow similar to hammering something. The sound seems so painful but actually, it is tolerable. For me, perhaps since my chosen designs are relatively small, it's not as painful as getting inked using a machine.
I also met Dr. Analyn Salvador-Amores, author of Tapping Ink, Tattooing Identities. She was there do another round of research and she was nice enough to take photos of me getting inked!
The people of Buscalan reach up to a very old age. I guess living a simple, stress-free life can really make you live longer? Fang Od is already 96 years old and she can still effing tattoo (and feed her pigs.) Whoa!
My Hawk/Ginawang (Ifugao) tattoo means messenger of good fortune. In the old days, the hawk's flight patterns were used in hunting expeditions. It somehow symbolized that a prey is near. My other tattoo, Rain (Kalinga), means water/blessings. Raining meant that the crops will grow thereby bearing fruits of the farmer's hard labor. I've always been fascinated with elements/forms of water so I know I had to get this ink. My heart is fat with joy. Yay for new inks.
I honestly like the vibe in Buscalan. It's steady and quiet. Plus there's lots of coffee! Though time flies by too slow. I also had a nice time with the new people I met (from Manila too) and we decided to go to our next adventure the following day - although we were quite unsure where to head out to next.
Things to note:
- Tattoos cost around Php 400 - Php 2000. Mine was Php 400 each but they didn't have change for my money so the change sorta counts as your tip to them.
- You can request for the thorn used after.
- If you are indeed getting a tattoo, it is highly suggested to stay overnight because the trek up can be a bitch (plus the last jeep to Bontoc is at 12nn). Get some rest there.Hang out with the villagers and drink lots of good coffee.
Cheers to turning 29 and to new memories. Off to the next destination!