The Long Drive
To reach the village of Buscalan in Tinglayan, Kalinga, you have to drive for 10-12 hours. The road to Kalinga Province is paved however, the road going to Buscalan Village itself is quite challenging. There are traces of landslides and the road is narrow to the point that you can see the cliff even if you are inside your vehicle.
Our driver, Glenn, was able to maneuver the van smoothly and we reached Buscalan Village safe and sound. He drove for 12 hours because of the traffic situation in EDSA but overall, the travel experience to Buscalan was quite good.
We only made one stopover in Nueva Ecija to fill the tank and for CR break, and the rest was traversing the long and zigzag roads of the north.
There were two checkpoint stops to register the tourists coming in the province before you reach the jump-off point of Buscalan Village.
Hike like a Pro. LOL
Tito-aged travelers like me can still make it so don’t worry about the trail. From jump-off point to Buscalan Village proper, it took us 40-50 minutes with 3 stops for rest. Yay!
I suggest you pack light if you are going to Buscalan Village but if you are having a problem carrying your bags, a local tour guide may carry them for you.
Our Stay in Buscalan Village
We stayed at Janine’s homestay until the next morning before leaving for Manila. Unfortunately Apo Whang-Od was not around as she had to go to the hospital in Tabuk for check-up. Getting the sought-after three-dot signature tattoo and the R-18 photo (I will not elaborate it anymore) were supposed to be the highlights of the visit but for me, it was okay. What’s important is that a national treasure like Apo Whang-Od is in good health and condition. We can go back there anyway so no need to be sad. There are a lot of ways to enjoy while staying in Buscalan like what Allen, our tour coordinator, said during our trip which I fully agree.
What to do in Buscalan Village
Get inked through the traditional way of the Mambatoks
The 3-dot signature tattoo from Apo Whang-Od is definitely the first choice but if she is not around, there are also young “Mambabatoks” who can ink you. I got mine from Yholanda.
For a first-timer like me, it was a mix of nervousness and excitement. I was worried that I would faint while the torn was penetrating my skin. Hahaha!
I was surprised! I thought it was too painful to bear but it wasn’t. There was definitely pain but it was quite tolerable.
I got two tattoos at the back: a compass and a serpent eagle. I will get one again next time.
Roam around the village
You can walk around the village and view the rice terraces. Unfortunately, we boys no longer went out as it was raining and we were busy drinking!
They said, you can also go to the waterfalls but you must be accompanied by a local. If you still have the energy after a 12-hour drive and hike for almost 1 hour, go and explore the village.
Here are my new friends, Hermie, Yan and Dianne, who went around on that day, exposing their tattoos to the world. Hahaha!
There was also a wedding on the day we visited Buscalan however, I was too lazy to go out that night and was afraid that my tattoo might swell if I got soaked from the rain.
Night cap with new friends
Allen, our travel coordinator, prepared a game perfect for the night cap. I will definitely not reveal the game so I suggest you book your trip with Wander Twins.
You are allowed to bring your own booze but you have to carry them all the way from Manila to Buscalan. If you don’t want to bring one, there are available beers in the village. Take note, they don’t sell gin.
Socialize with the neighborhood
I can attest that the locals in Buscalan are kind, courteous and nice. It was really fun to hear some jokes and stories when visiting the place. Of course, as a visitor, you should be respectful at all times.
The locals are happy to participate in photo-ops with tourists like us, always smiling and accommodating. Here is a photo where Janine and Yholanda were giving our group tattoos and smiling for the camera.
Overall, my trip to Buscalan was full of fun and learnings. I learned the tradition of our brothers and sisters in the north, heard some good stories and lastly, was able to share happy memories that we can bring when we get old with a group of travelers who became friends. Even though we weren’t able to meet Apo Whang-Od, the highlight of this trip to me was meeting them.
Thank you for a wonderful trip. See you in our next journey!
Watch my vlog in YouTube
Transportation: We availed the tour package from Wander Twins. Visit their Facebook page for more information.
Food: Max. of Php 1,000 per head for dinner before leaving Metro Manila, lunch in Banaue, Ifugao during our side trip and dinner in San Jose, Nueva Ecija before going home.
Accommodation: It is part of the tour package.
Others: Maximum of Php 500 per head for socials at night depending on your capacity. 🙂
This is also what I like in Buscalan. You have time to disconnect from internet world and connect with your new friends.
The road is paved but there are landslides