|Welcome to Buscalan!|
I have been aspiring to visit the village for the sake of educating myself about their history and culture. At the same time I would like to meet Apong Whang Od, and the villagers on how they cope with the hundreds of tourists which flocks the village to visit Apong. As we arrived in Tinglayan we were not able to get into Buscalan Village because of their traditional rice planting ritual. Visitors were not allowed to come and those who were in the village at that time were not allowed to leave. So we were asked to stay at the nearby village of Bugnay in Butbut proper, just a few kilometers away from the village and the neighbor village of Buscalan. The locals of Bugnay also belongs to the Butbut tribe, they also boasts about their rice terraces along the coast of Chico River. They speak the Butbut dialect, they're courteous and hospitable people. We spent some time chatting with the locals of the Bugnay and learned so many things about their history and culture.
|Heaven and earth.|
On our second day, we ate breakfast early, got on our feet and rode a motorbike going to the drop off area. From there, we waited for our guide and started hiking. The narrow pathways along the cliff reminded me of the trails going to Pongas Falls in Sagada the only difference is when you fall off the cliff in Pongas you're going to land on the rice paddies while in Buscalan it will be a lot deeper than that and it will hurt. So be steady and cautious! "Assault" was on my mind while walking along the steep and narrow concrete stairs while panting and if I am not mistaken it was approximately an hour and 45 minutes trek going to the village proper. If you're planning to go to Buscalan, please do not just go on your own, you need to be guided by the locals or the accredited tour guides for your safety.
|Caution: narrow pathways.|
We started to walk at 9 am along narrow pathways and weeds which are deceiving because they are thick, you might think that you can walk on it but not! Be careful while walking and just focus on the direction. The concrete stairs going to the village proper are steep but the moment you see the clusters of wooden houses at the end of the trail, you'll realize you're already there! I got that big smile on my face you know and said "hey I made it!".
|Thank you and peace be with you Father.|
|Atong's home sweet home.|
As we went on our wanderings, we passed by Apong Whang Od's house and I saw her busy rendering her mastery on one of the visitors. I watched her do her craft, she works seriously and silently with perfection. It was my first time to see her up close, she looks so elegant with her headdress
on and some pieces of jewelries. She's still beautiful at her age (98) and I imagined she's even more beautiful when she's younger, what do you think? The tattoo on her added more beauty to her golden brown skin. She said tattoo makes women more beautiful...is that so?
She uses pomelo torns as her needle and a special mixture of ash and oil as ink. Can you imagine how painful it is to be pricked by this? Well, I must have the guts to face it! No pain no gain, no guts no glory!
|And her weapon for art!|
|Freedom, wisdom, light and fertility|
I had my tattoo on the third day of our journey and I was the first one to be inked! It is painful yeah, but the experience and meeting the woman who has been tagged as one of the greatest artists in the Philippines is rewarding!
Thank you for reading.
HOW TO GET THERE?
1. There are two options going to Buscalan. Bus from Manila (Victory Liner) going to Tabuk. Then take another bus from Tabuk going to Bontoc, the bus will pass by Bugnay. Take habal-habal (motorbike) going to drop off, then trek going to Buscalan.
Bus from Manila (Victory Liner) going to Baguio, then another bus going to Bontoc (GLizardo Bus Lines at Dangwa Terminal or D'Rising Sun Bus at Slaughterhouse terminal). From Bontoc take the jeepney going to Buscalan, which leaves at 2 PM, I have to remind you that there is only one jeepney which goes to Buscalan so don't be late.
2. Homestay rate is 250/night at Atong Lagui-ao's house mobile#0915 762 2328 and 09192679187.
Please call him a week ahead before you come. If you need tour guides please call Tajab Loyod mobile # 0905524248.
3. Do not forget to pay the 75 pesos environmental fee.
4. If possible please bring candies for the children, they really like it and waiting for it.
5. Practice Leave No Trace policy. Respect the locals.