Reputedly the last mambabatok is 98 years old. She is Fang-od Oggay. Still single, she became the superstar of the ethnic village Buscalan in the mountain province of Kalinga in the Philippines when National Geographic featured her in one of its documentaries. Since then, tattoo enthusiasts and backpackers alike have been travelling from around the world to get marked for life or to get a glimpse of her. According to Philippine history, girls would receive tattoos as they enter womanhood while men would get them for their achievements. Apo Fang-od traditionally uses pomelo tree thorn and bamboo ash to print the ancient art on a person’s body.
To do that it takes 10 hours bus ride from Metro Manila. Plus 3 hours top loading on a jeepney with views that will totally make you restless. And another 2 hours hike going in to the mountains to the village. It is always best to get a local guide to accompany you. My guide was Charlie Pan-oy with contact number +639981888697. An overnight stay at least is recommended if you want to experience the lifestyle of the villagers. Mind you pigs here live like pets, they are everywhere roaming freely and really cute. One should also be open-minded for the things they will learn once in the village.
With a population of less than 500 and a Mambabatok. the tradition of the villagers getting tattoos is dying. And with the growing influx of outsiders and their influence. The young have swayed from their roots. It is a pity if one day the tradition is gone.
P.S. No Copyright Intended. The awesome music belongs to its respectful owner – Money Rain Down by Big Black Delta. All clips are taken using GoPro Hero4, compiled and edited through iMovie.