Wang-Od: The Last Kalinga Tattoo Artist

There were so many things that happened to us on our way to Buscalan village to get a traditional tattoo from Wang-Od. There were times where I told Neil that we should head back to Bontoc instead and just forget about it but then decided to pursue with the plan the next minute. It was a very unexpected trip and had to hike steep mountains of Cordillera just to reach the village due to landslide. However, I think everything was worth it and something to be proud of after all.


Apo Wang-Od is a 95-year old tattoo artist from Kalinga. She is also known to many as the last Kalinga tattoo artist “the last mambabatok” and their province is one of the home of the fiercest head hunter warriors. Although, the warriors doesn’t exist anymore today, you can still see the fierce in their eyes up to these days.

How To Get There?

  • For  Baguio-Bontoc-Buscalan and v.v. or Banaue-Bontoc-Buscalan and v.v. routes

Baguio Route:
Go to Dangwa Terminal via taxi then take the ‘D Rising Sun’ bus bound for Bontoc. I would suggest to take the first trip, which is 7:00/8:00 am to arrive in Bontoc at around 1pm or early. Travel time is 5-6 hours and fare could be 500 or more. (Never tried this route.)

Banaue Route:
There are bus trip from Manila/Baguio going to Banaue for those who wants to visit the famous Banaue Rice Terraces. You can take the Ohayami Bus that is bound for Banaue. For schedules and fare rates, you can go to their site:

You will then arrive in Banaue at 7:00 am, whether from Manila or Baguio. Then take a jeep/v-hire bound for Bontoc that will take 1 and 1/2 hour to 2 hours.

Bontoc Route:
From Bontoc, take a jeep bound for Tinglayen/Bugnay. First trip is 8:00 am and last trip is 2:00 pm. I would suggest the last trip ’cause it is a direct trip for Buscalan Village’s turning point — the easy trip and hike is 45 minutes to an hour only! yeaaahaaaaay!

  • For  Manila-Tabuk-Tinglayen and v.v. route (the easy way!)

Tabuk Route:
From Manila, take a Victory Liner bus bound for Tabuk. Travel time is approximately 11-12 hours and bus leaves Manila at 7:00pm. Once you reach Tabuk, take a jeep for Tinglayen or ask if there are any direct trips to Buscalan Village. As what I’ve heard, there is a direct trip to the village’s turning point through this trip. Just be friendly enough to ask the locals! 😉

(NOTE: Do top load in riding the jeep to see the beauty of Cordillera. One of the scenic views I’ve ever seen in my entire life! Charoot!)

Who to Contact?
I would really suggest to contact Kuya Charlie! A very great host/guide and has a very cozy house where you can stay for the night. You can contact him at this number +63998-188-8697.

Wang-Od Kalinga

With Kuya Charlie

Everything about the Village
Before reaching the village, you still have to trek for 45 minutes to an hour from the turning point. Again, another set of scenic views will going to amaze you.

wang-od kalinga

Trek to Buscalan Village

wang-od kalinga

[GIF] Trek to Buscalan Village

Those who are afraid of heights? Start facing your fear and build courage from now on if you wish to visit Apo Wang-Od!

We arrived in the village at 6:00 pm and immediately took a bath. Kuya Charlie also gave us a coffee that is made of organic grass. As for me who hates coffee, I loved it ’cause there’s not caffeine and it’s natural. Kuya Charlie will prepare your breakfast, lunch and dinner as well but you’ll have to bring your own food and share it with your host. Sharing is loving!

After dinner, we had chit-chats with the villagers and drank kuatro kantos or Ginebra Gin. They also offered us some *grass (if you know what I mean). Unfortunately, me and Neil we’re really not into it so it’s fine to say no to them — don’t be scared to say no. lol. The villagers love green jokes as well so to those who gets offended easily with it, good luck!

The next morning, we woke up at 5:30 am to see the sunrise and be early for the tattoo session. We wanted to be first in line but unfortunately, some foreigners who stayed at Wang-Od’s house we’re the one who got the first slot. Anyhow, we strolled around the village and gave candies to kids and matches to the elderly before our session.

Wang-Od KalingaWang-Od Kalinga

Wang-Od KalingaWang-Od Kalinga

Note: Don’t expect too much from the place. This is a village in a middle of mountains of Kalinga so there is no fancy hotels and whatnot. Embrace the beauty of simplicity!

Then finally, we meet Wang-Od in person!

Wang-Od Kalinga

Wang-Od preparing the ink.

Wang-Od Kalinga

Neil — looking for a tattoo design

We’re so ready to get batok for the first time. Unfortunately, Grace ,who is Wang-Od’s only successor and grand daughter, was the first one to inked us since Wang-Od was still busy with the foreigners and we need to trek down to the turning point by 10:00am. But not to worry ’cause Wang-Od will finish your tattoo if you are willing to wait for her to be available.

Wang-Od Kalinga

Neil getting tatooed by Grace

Wang-Od Kalinga

Wang-Od Kalinga

The citrus thorn that were used during our tattoo session.

 And who wants to leave without a photo with the master?

Wang-Od Kalinga

We’d like to stay for more days but we still need to go to Sagada on that day. Next time, we’ll be back for sure to get another tattoo and that’s a promise!

Then we started to trek down from the village. Good thing, it was a good weather!

Wang-Od Kalinga

Trek from Buscalan Village

Wang-Od Kalinga

It was a sunny day when we left the village.

Wang-Od Kalinga

For those who wanted to visit Wang-Od especially Cebuanos, please bring the following for the villagers:

  • candies for kids
  • matches for the elders
  • pasalubong from Cebu (dried mangoes or dried ‘buwad‘ danggit)

And please contact Kuya Charlie and say ‘hi’ to him for me. He’s really nice and accommodating.text-decoration: underline; /

13 Responses to Wang-Od: The Last Kalinga Tattoo Artist

  1. […] You can visit each articles of the blog below: Baguio: Sagada: Wang-Od: the last tattoo artist of Kalinga: […]

  2. sherwin says:

    maam, pqde mangutana.. wat tym ang mga bus gikan bugnay padulong bontoc? magsagada pa unta mi after magpa.batok. -sherwin

    • mingjamoves says:

      Naa raman moagi bus/jeep every hour sa bugnay for bontoc 🙂

    • Evan says:

      Hi Sherwin! Kelan inyong trip? Magadto mi Feb. 24-28, 2016.Nangita mi kauban ky 2 lng mi. Magside trip pud sa Mt. Kofafey or Sagada kung kaya pa sa time. Text me kung gusto ka 09238726661. Thanks!

  3. ogine says:

    Thanks for sharing po!! Moadto ko this summer tana maka timin ko gamay ra ang tao..

  4. Ann na says:

    hi there. Just want to ask kung pila ang bayad sa guide? Planning to go there po on february 8. Im from davao po and 2 lang kami. Baka po meron gusto mgjoin. 🙂

  5. Jessica says:

    Hi basi naa plan muadto dri by oct.2016..sabay ta..

  6. Karsten says:


    Ask ko lang sana after nun tattoo session mo the next day, umuwi na din ba kayo agad non? pano pumunta sa bontoc from buscalan? meron ba nagaabang na motorcycle or jeep sa turning point?


    • mingjamoves says:

      After the tattoo session, we went to Bontoc immediately at around 10am. Meron rin namang jeepneys na dumadaan sa turning point. Just make sure that it is still early 🙂

  7. Zaki says:

    Hi!knsa naa plan mo ad2 by Dec?sabay ta ko.

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