The tattoo community of the north, the Butbut tribe is located 17 hours away from the city of Manila. This small community is slowly opening their door to the public over the past couple of years, providing guests with accommodation, a taste of culture and the main reason why travelers from all around the world visit the place, the traditional Kalinga tattooing.
Buscalan, a small community in the municipality of Tinglayan, is inhabited by about 200 households. Primarily, they thrive on rice agriculture and recently, on tourism. The Butbuts live on huts stilted from the ground. It is traditionally made of hardwood and grass roof. Today, new houses are built made of the usual construction material which shows just how much progress the community gained in the past couple of years.
The main force that pulls travelers into Buscalan is it’s traditional tribal tattooing, which they now offer to visitors for a few hundred pesos depending on what size you get. The tattoo is imprinted on your skin using materials such as the Pomelo tree’s thorn being the needle and coal turned to ash as the ink.
(Image source Left: http://www.kamustamagazine.ph/blurred-lines-the-mambabatok-of-kalinga/ : Right: controversialdocumentaries.blogspot.com)
This unique art form is in danger of disappearing due to the fact that its one and only living master, Apo Whang-Od is almost a hundred years old and was only able to pass on the traditional technique to two grand daughters Grace and El yang who are still going to school by taking a 2-3 mile hike.
(Image source: http://www.kamustamagazine.ph/blurred-lines-the-mambabatok-of-kalinga/)
Buscalan, has recently been a top destination for tattoo enthusiasts, hikers, mountaineers, artists and curious travelers as this community just gives you a taste of culture that you cannot get anywhere else. But right now, the tribe is also slowly adapting the to the modern world as electricity and television has just reached their village in 2014.
As tourism is helping this tribe, it also can be a cause for their traditional ways to disappear. right now this community is growing faster than ever and every visitor needs to give back in the way of donations and respecting their area by taking their trash along with them as they leave.