It was the holiday season long-break and a couple of my friends (RoadworthyMan and Hapipaks) wanted to visit Fang-Od, the famed mambabatok in Buscalan Kalinga and have themselves inked. It was kind of unexpected that transportation options quickly ran out even a few days ahead before the trip. I guess gone are the days where I can easily go to Baguio, Banaue or Sagada on a whim during this season as this time, people should book way ahead. I volunteered to help and give them another option to Buscalan, not only to accompany them but partly to join them as well as I wanted to revisit Kalinga again for the holidays. What ensued was a trip of misadventures on our way to Riverside Inn, Luplupa, Kalinga.
Manila was dumped by more than a month’s rain in August, finding it a bit difficult to go around. The unusual habagat (southwest winds) rains caused major floods in the Metro but that didn’t dampen our eagerness to travel. Once abated, a window opened to travel to Kalinga, a province I have longed wanted to visit, not only to see the famous mambabatok Fang-Od (Whang-od), but the curiosity to see the land of the head-hunters.
“Our priority is to get back to Tinglayan!” I said when we were discussing about our plans for the next day. We wanted to somehow include the falls and springs in Kalinga but it seems time isn’t on our side. It’s either we go back the same route to Bugnay or we go by Francis’s suggestion – a Kalinga Villages Traverse to the next two villages of Butbut and Ngibat then descending at Liyao for the main road to Tinglayan. We decided to go with the latter not really knowing what we’re getting into.
More than 15 hours on the road can take a toll, especially if there are lulls in between and I wasn’t able to get enough sleep from that night bus. But on the final stretch on the road from Tabuk to Tinglayan, I kept my eyes peeled, trying to pave-off these drowsy eyes just to see the winding road along the mountains, the rice terraces, the Chico River and on my left, the imposing Sleeping Beauty Mountain looming over the rustic town of Tinglayan, Kalinga. We reached the town center and our drop-off, none other the Sleeping Beauty Inn, where we met with our tour guide and our home in Tinglayan.
It was one of those spontaneous trips I wasn’t sure it would push through. The Philippine habagat (southwest wind) has been whipping up mean rains in the metro it takes some effort to bypass the floods and the traffic. But I had my eyes set on Kalinga province for sometime, particularly to see their supposedly dying Batok (tattoo) art. So when the rains abated, we got a signal from our guide in Tinglayan of good weather there. I quickly packed my bags and prepared for the long road to Tinglayan, the jump-off for exploration on the province of Kalinga.