See that unpaved road? Nope, it’s not yet the way to Buscalan, Kalinga but to Bugnay, the town before Buscalan.
I took this shot while riding on top of the jeepney. Yes, top loading was fun especially if you wanted to see breathtaking sights but it may be a nightmare for those who are acrophobic (afraid of heights).
From atop the jeepney, I saw the narrow Chico River sandwiched in between mountains. It was a sight to behold.
We left Tinglayan around 7:20 AM and arrived at Bugnay Village after an hour. Bugnay is around 13 kilometers from Tinglayan. But because of the rough road and stop-overs for passengers, the ride was a bit long.
This marker in Bugnay welcomed us. The marker is a reminder of how the people defended their land and opposed the Chico River Dam Electrification Project.
From the marker, Francis Pain, our guide, led us to a shortcut towards the road to Buscalan. It’s a hike among the bushes. I thought I was prepared but I wasn’t. It was a scary steep climb with no clear path way. It was a path that locals use. I was glad that I survived to get up to another unpaved road.
Then I learned that there’s an option to hire a habal-habal from Bugnay to an end point where only walking is the only option on the way to Buscalan. But it was too late, our guide didn’t mention it.
Under the scorching heat of the sun, we walked. Stopped for awhile. I just took the stops as photo-opportunities. I still managed to smile even if I was tired. Whew! Thank God, Francis carried my backpack for me.
We walked again and again, and again. It seemed never ending until we reached the point where we saw the “parking” lot of motorcycles (habal-habal).
“Wah, bakit di nyo po sinabi na pwede palang mag-motor? (Wah, Why didn’t you tell us that there’s a motorcycle for rent?),” I asked Francis.
“Mahal kasi ang arkila dito. Php 100.00 (USD 2.50) per tao. (The rental is expensive. It’s Php 100 per head),” he replied.
Complaining won’t get me to my destination in a snap. We’re half-way through. But yes, I won’t mind paying that Php 100/ head if it would mean skipping the “scary path that we climbed that only the locals climb”. It was death-defying. But Thank God, I’m still alive and telling this story.
It was one of those moments that I asked myself, “What did I get myself into?”
“Trouble? Adventure!” haha. And so I just let my eyes be entertained by the green sceneries as we continued our journey.
I reminded myself that there’s no turning back. Our goal was to meet the last traditional tattoo artist, the MAMBABATOK—Whang-Od (pronounced as Fang-ood).
On our way to Buscalan, we passed by a small waterfalls where kids played like they’re in paradise. It’s a problem-free world for them. Ahh, if only we’re not tired, I would like to join them and be refreshed.
We reached a point where there were narrow stairs going up the mountain. Francis pointed the houses on the edge of the mountains. Yes, that’s Buscalan Village. Waah.
One step at a time, breathe. Inhale, exhale. Water break. It was tiring indeed. But when we met this old woman who spoke to Francis in their native dialect, we were amused. She’s Kan-aw, the sister of Whang-Od, who’ll be meeting.
Then later on, we learned that she wanted the “alampay” (neck scarf) that J has on his neck. That’s what she was talking about. J gladly gave it. After all, we’re visitors of their land and we’ll be staying at their house later.
Look how happy she was when she had the alampay. She smiled at us and went on her way to harvest some vegetables on the other mountain. Few more steps and we reached their humble abode—Buscalan Village!
It was a three-hour battle with exhaustion and heat from Bugnay to Buscalan but it was definitely worth the journey to reach Buscalan and meet the mambabatok, Whang-Od!
Will I be getting a tattoo? Stay tuned for the next post about the Mambabatok.
- The most memorable trips are not because of the destination but the journey that you went through just to get there. The long way to Buscalan was one of them.
- When the road seems long and your body’s weary, never give up. Go on. Continue what you’ve started.
- There’s no turning back. To reach the top, conquer the obstacles. Survive the difficulties.
- Don’t forget to breathe fresh air. Despite the struggle, there’s always something to smile about. It’s being alive and experiencing life.
- Always be grateful.
- Travel light. But when your baggage seems heavy, don’t hesitate to ask for help. “Come to me and I’ll give you rest.”–Matthew 11:28-30
TRAVEL NOTES and TIPS:
- From Bugnay, it’s better to hire a habal-habal. Fare is Php 100/head.
- Travel time from Bugnay to Drop-off point (motorcycle parking lot)- 30 minutes
- Travel time from Bugnay to Buscalan via habal-habal and walking- 2 hours
- Travel time from Bugnay to Buscalan if hiking all the way- 3 hours