Gameplan: Behind the scenic scenes

Nikki Pua
Gameplan: Behind the scenic scenes
The Gameplan trio treks to Buscalan, Kalinga – home to legendary tattoo artist Whang-Od

MANILA, Philippines – Hiking up to a village on top of a mountain can be one exhilarating experience, not just because of the thrill of passing through tricky terrain, but also because of the breathtaking view. 

“The trek itself was so nice because it was super scenic.Nothing that I’ve ever experienced before. It wasn’t as long and as dreadful as I expected it because the scenery made it more pleasant,” said Gameplan host Amanda Fernandez.

Buscalan is the most prominent of the 20 villages in Kalinga because this is where the last mambabatok (tattoo artist) Whang-Od lives. Travelers hike for about an hour to get to the village and meet the legendary artist and her family.  

Before meeting her, Amanda and her two co-hosts explored the rest of the village. “I saw a lot of pigs running around, some dogs here and there, kids, some chickens. They sort of just live in one sort of ecosystem. I feel like they do everything together, they really help each other out,” said Amanda.

They also took a short trek to the rice terraces where the locals earn their living. The rice terraces in Kalinga are set in stone instead of mud, making it more durable. “Yung mga walls na ‘to are made of stone so kumbaga mas matibay. Napakagaling talaga. And what a view,” Amanda observed. 

“My life is just completely different. Being there helped me get away from my type of lifestyle and just immerse in a culture that’s so well kept. Coming here to Kalinga is more than just hiking up a mountain. I just feel like my world has changed just because I’ve been exposed to the people and the province of Buscalan,” she said. –

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