14 [Tinglayan] Kin-ay: the First Kalinga Tattooed Woman I Met

"A person came close. He gently grabbed Kin-ay's arm and showed me her name. Wow! That was a lovely way of telling her name!"

That was the day when I encountered a living cultural museum. April 7, 2013: a date marked in my memory, tattooed on my heart, adopted by my DNA. She's a beautiful old woman. Her name is Kin-ay, a Kalinga tattooed woman whom I met for the very first time in this space of opportunity.

Kalinga Tattooed Woman

The reptilian-look arm is tantamount to beauty in her culture.


I've met a lot of tattooed women, some are gangsters, some are achievers, but Kin-ay's tattoo has this design that can beat all the hippest tattoos in town. 



Unlike Fang-od, she does not have the skill of tattooing but she has this charisma to make every Kalinga tattoo hunter's heart to jump with joy.

Kalinga Tattooed Woman

Her tattoo is a sign of bravery.


I've met some tattooed women in BONTOC but this group of tattooed women in Kalinga is yet another desire my culture-lustful body is fantasizing.

So upon I stepped on a Kalinga soil for the very first time, I saw Kin-ay. I saw her tattoos marked on that skin with love. Also, she's the first tattooed woman from Kalinga I've ever met. 

Seeing her was like I was transported to a different space and dimension. She is a festival herself, a grandiose event, a living masterpiece. My eyes were witnessing a grand cultural show in the person of her. That's how I reacted for the first time. You know, my first time experiences are the most memorable.

Kaling Tattooed Woman

A closer look of that lovely tattoo

Kalinga Tattooed Woman

Her name is marked on the posterior aspect of her forearm


Her name was tattooed on her skin. I asked her name but she didn't answer me. I knew, she can't understand my Ilocano tongue. A person came close. He gently grabbed Kin-ay's arm and showed me her name. Wow! That was a lovely way of telling her name! K I N - A Y.

My very first exposure in Kalinga was priceless, to think that this is just the start of the journey of meeting the last tribal tattoo artist in Kalinga.

Kin-ay belongs to an endangered culture. Soon it will be extinct. The culture of tattooing is waving goodbye. The younger generation of Kalinga women has learned to let go of the culture.

Kalinga tattooed Women

My photo with her. I paid her 20 pesos for this photo.

Kalinga tattooed Women

I met Kin-ay for the second time

Kalinga tattooed Women

She puts on a traditional headwear and porcelain necklace

Kalinga tattooed Women

She looks like a Westerner here, isn't it?


Our first meet-up with Kin-ay never became the last. The second chance was so generous. She still wears that turban and her necklace.

Usually, a necklace like that is made of porcelain they used to barter with the early Chinese traders in the lowlands.

Kalinga tattooed women

She's a cultural queen in Bugnay


It's been a year since the last time we met. How is she now? Is she still healthy and fit? Is she still living? I don't know. All I want to do is to go back there because I have a surprise for her.

I hope she'll still be alive for our 3rd meet-up. Otherwise, the surprise will be of no value anymore. /end
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MORE POSTS FROM THIS CATEGORY: *PEOPLE*

[TINGLAYAN] Fang-Od (Whang-Od): The Last Tribal Tattoo Artist of Kalinga

"She is unwittingly ending a tradition she is not supposed to end. She's ending the tradition not by her choice but by the call of our ever changing society."

[BONTOC] Of Old Age and Traveling: Meeting an 81-Year-Old Solobackpacker

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[CORDILLERA] The Last Generation of Overt Igorots

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[MANABO] Cultural Experience with AMMUTAN TRIBE of Abra

TEASER: "There was a language barrier but the mere fact that I am witnessing a portion of their culture has made me think that these people are simply unique and blessed!"

[VIGAN] Meeting the Oldest Palaspas Weaver for Palm Sunday at 74 years old

TEASER: "All I can see to the face of Lola Conchita is the sincerity in her craft -- that she loves it so much in spite of her age. She started weaving Palaspas when she was 64 years old and at that age, she finds the "need" to do it to earn for a living."

[BANTAY] The Trike Toploader Kids of Sallacong

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[VIGAN] The People I Met Along the Mestizo River

TEASER: "Their lives start to revolve with these things that many of us living at the cities and working at the office don't know or not aware at all."
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