"So I thought the hike is over, but as I took a turn on that road, I saw the other side of the mountain and it doesn't look like I am getting any closer. It goes farther, and farther..."

I've been walking, hiking and at some point crawling for more than an hour now in this beautiful space where I can not even see any single individual to at least satisfy my instinct that I am going to the right direction, to a real village, and not to be lost to an unfamiliar place. The sun is still too hot, scorching and an expert strength-grabber. I can not see any individual to call for help in this crazy thing I am doing - solo hike to a mountaintop village which is my first time to visit.

Agony-alleviating view

Following the Trail. Is this the right way? | Before I decided to go solo, I asked random people in BUGNAY VILLAGE

[TINGLAYAN] Bugnay Rice Terraces and that Lucky Village in Kalinga

TEASER: "The Kalinga prima facie evidence in terms of beauty should not be a subject for debate because if I were to be the judge, the evidence is too strong to put the case to rest."
if a solo hike to Buscalan is doable for my type: skinny, tall, no heart problem, determined with a well-fit jeans and no formal training in mountaineering. 

Yes, I was convinced it is doable. In fact I am doing it now, but the biggest problem I am facing is if I am going to the right direction. Where are you people? Where can I ask for at least a pinch of idea or clue that the trail I am taking is not leading to an insurgent camp?

However, 80 percent of me believed that it's the right way, but then again, how would I know? How would I confirm? 

More Rice Terraces

No regrets | If not for the beautiful view, I may have aborted the journey. I was thinking that there is still a reason to continue. If ever I am lost, at least I am experiencing an ancient cultural landscape, a gasp of fresh air and new beautiful memories that are testing my memory capacity.

No regrets, if ever I'm not seeing Fang-od, this memorable journey will stay forever in my heart. Seeing the beauty of KALINGA


FAST FACTS: Kalinga is believed to be the home of the last headhunters of the Cordilleras.

Photo: Bugnay Village @ Tinglayan, Kalinga
is a separate accomplishment for me. It would be enough. It would be just fine than to allow the vibration of disappointment to consume me with negative elements in the spiritual world.

Seeing a mountain road | More than an hour of hide and seek (me seeking a hidden village), I have finally landed to conclusion that a village exists out there; though this time I am not yet seeing any house, or a village. I am down to the final hike to this trail and after this will be more convenient. That's what I was thinking, but actually it was not. I 'll narrate later.

Yipeeee! There's a road finally! You know, a road means a lot for me because it means there's a community, there's a civilization and there are real human beings. My hope was resurrected. My doubts diminished. My determination was focused.

My first road encounter after the hike

I took that road. It was the only road I saw since the start of the hike. It's a big reward for an exhausted person like me getting thirsty and constantly thinking where can I buy a food and a sachet of coffee. I followed the road; I went westward.

I have chosen to go to the west because the road is going up which means it leads to a higher altitude, a theory I cling-ed onto that this road is leading me to that mountaintop village that constantly hides from my sight.

First human encounter| I continued to hike using this road, uh, it's more on walking, though the road is ascending. It still requires the hamstring strength you need in hiking. I savored the beautiful view and the fact that I survived the hike with no one to ask for direction boosted my confidence that I can finish this adventure of a lifetime.

A mountaintop rice field

Terraced rice field

As I walked up the road, I saw two backpackers walking against my direction. This must be exciting! They look like Caucasians. When I have been near them, I unleashed that dose of courage required to ask questions to strangers. I asked where did they come from? One told me they came from Buscalan.

Just before I have to follow-up my question, they have asked me a question, "Are you going to get a tattoo?" I said maybe. Then I learned that they are French backpackers. It made me realize that Fang-od is going global, an international tattoo artist to that effect.

Based on the statement of that French backpacker who sees me with a backpack, everyone who is walking on this road who doesn't resemble the common face of the locals will be treated as visitor who's going to see Fang-od. See? These Frenchmen knew I was going there just before I asked for directions and they confirmed I am going to the right direction; my instinct served me well.

I continued the hike and finally I have seen some houses, a school and a rest area. This time, I think I am safe as what my instinct has told me. I told you, my instinct is my guide.

Maybe a rest area for hikers

Southern Tinglayan National High School on an accessible location

Although the French backpackers have confirmed I am going to the right way, I still took this great opportunity to ask for the direction from the words of the locals themselves. As I continue to ascend, I saw this building from afar, but I still had no idea what this building is all about. When I came close, I read the signboard. It is a school.

I remember when I was at the other side of the cliff, I shouted to a person I saw located at the other side where the school is located. I was waving my hands asking if where is the way to Buscalan. I got dismayed, they didn't understand what I was talking about, maybe because they speak a different dialect.

I went close to this school and again shouted for help (in finding the direction). Someone came over. I later learned he is a teacher of the school. He smiled at me. I smiled back. I asked the direction. He answered without hesitation. He doesn't look paranoid. Maybe, he has seen many people like me who are lost for the direction. He might have been accustomed of seeing backpackers like me going to Buscalan asking for directions. I went through and I saw more locals with friendly smiles going down the road.

Long and winding road to the village

The dead end: motorbike vs. walking | It came late to my knowledge that I can actually ride on a motorbike up to the end of the road as what some locals have told me.

But I didn't know about it. There was a feeling of regret due to the fact that I nearly collapsed in thirst. And since my breakfast has been catabolized due to the difficult hike, I ate the bread that is supposed to be my gift to Fang-od. 

Should I have ridden on a motorbike, I should have not been self-punished this way for being a stubborn child who tells a lie from my parents that I am going in this place.

These galvanized structures are where the motorbikes are kept

I reached the dead end of the road but the end of the road is a picture of more mountains: no village was seen, no other buildings. So is this the real deal? I hoped it's more convenient now but it was not. There is a single trail from the road. I believe this was the trail to Buscalan. Hey Buscalan! How could you be so far? How could you be so hidden? How I wish there could be flights to anywhere like landing to this village, but it is just impossible, even land vehicles can not enter. Everyone needs to hike and walk.

Seriously? Where is the end of the trail?

Everywhere is a trail. Where and when should this hiking end?

So I thought the hike is over, but as I took a turn on that road, I saw the other side of the mountain and it doesn't look like I am getting any closer. It goes farther, and farther... Well, it's still too far and I am not seeing any village again. The hike I experienced from the past 2 hours seemed like going to chase me once more - and I was right.

I have to hike for another hour again. It seemed so endless. I am now very far. All I need now is to see a person to comfort me.

This waterfall is seen along the way to Buscalan

The waterfalls from afar. I trekked up close although I was tired.

Seeing the village | I am finally seeing a village. Is that Buscalan? I have to say now that the village I was seeing below was not the village where Fang-od is located. But I think it is still part of Buscalan

Looking back from where I've been. Can you notice the trail at the right?

When I was already at the other side of the mountain, I realized how far I have been. I have learned the reason why Buscalan was hidden - the village can not be seen there because it has been veiled by that mountain.

Finally, a village...


That time I saw this village was like winning in a lottery. I am now getting closer, and closer to my goals. It was a great thing I didn't turn back, or else, I won't see anything.

But this village is not yet the real Buscalan. The core of the village is located higher, and I still can't see from here. I need to hike up more.

I continued the hike. The air gets cooler. The fog starts to embrace me and I forgot it was a high noon. I climbed the concrete stairs. I think it was more than a thousand steps. That was a very long, long, stair that goes up and goes down. The hard part is the going up. I have to stop every now and then to rest. My energy is now really depleted.

I reached the real village. I saw dark piggies roaming around freely. I saw some children going down the concrete stairs and running. They are ace. They are not afraid to run even though the cliff is just right there. I took it slow. I didn't want to fall.

The Fang-od sign board

I asked the villagers where is Fang-od. There I saw her name posted on a wood with red characters saying: "Welcome: Fang-od Tatoo Artist. It was written in wrong spelling but who cares? I hiked for 3 hours to see a legend and not to see a sign board. I will be meeting the woman. When she met me, the first thing she gave to me as a visitor was...(?) /to be continued...


The Day I Hike Solo to Buscalan, Kalinga (Part 1/2)

TEASER: "I am soliloquizing under the scorching strike of the sun that is adding more agony to my weary self. I hope I am not yet lost. But if ever I'm lost, at least I'm lost in a paradise."
| 2 | 3

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

TEASER: "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."
| 4

17 Great Memories + First Time Encounters in Buscalan, Kalinga

TEASER: "Buscalan rose to fame because of Fang-od. But Buscalan is more than Fang-od. It is more than the tribal tattoo."
| 5

[TINGLAYAN] Chewed, Swallowed Frogs in Buscalan, Kalinga

TEASER: "We talked with joy behind the darkness. That dinner unleashed the real us. The candlelight was a silent witness of our fears, happiness and life's perspectives."
| 6

[TINGLAYAN] There was No Sunrise in Buscalan, Kalinga

TEASER: "So the sun didn't shine that morning. However, I was able to understand the other side of the story."
| 7

[TINGLAYAN] Buscalan Rice Terraces Kissed the Clouds

TEASER: "This is my story about the Buscalan Rice Terraces. At first there is a foreplay with the clouds but it always ends up with a satisfactory finish."
| 8

[TINGLAYAN] Blacksmith Kingdom of Kalinga: Turning Stones into Fire

TEASER: "If there is no concept of poverty, there shall be no poverty. But poverty has been introduced by greedy kingdoms while the little kingdom dwellers of the mountains recognized it's presence."

Tinglayan #TownExploration Series

Map showing the Location of #Tinglayan

Click map to view latest articles covering Kalinga


[TINGLAYAN] The Day I Hike Solo to Buscalan, Kalinga - Part 1/2

TEASER: "I am soliloquizing under the scorching strike of the sun that is adding more agony to my weary self. I hope I am not yet lost. But if ever I'm lost, at least I'm lost in a paradise."

[CORDILLERA] Bontoc-Tabuk Road: Mt. Province-Kalinga Border Crossing

TEASER: "My blunt brain due to being deprived of sleep was instantly reset to sight-seeing mode after it hibernated for a while when I started seeing this wonderful view that temporarily locked my jaw."

[LICUAN-BAAY] Challengingly Sweet Journey to Licuan-Baay, Abra

TEASER: "No complaints. I am loving it not that I want to do it so that I have something to write but because it activates my brain cells to think, analyze and think again."

[LICUAN-BAAY] An Introduction to the Town-of-Gold

TEASER: "The scope of Licuan-Baay is extensive and expansive. You need to get a guide beforehand who is familiar enough of the town. Reaching the barangays and communities of the Tingguian (Itneg) people is tricky"

[ILOCOS] My First Habal-Habal Ride... in Search for the House of the gods

TEASER: "The ride was full of adventure. I spotted a lot of waterfalls, hanging bridges, and the endless charm of the towering mountains with the Amburayan River flowing in between them."

[SABLAN] Benguet | Surviving the Threats of Thick Fog

TEASER: "A look at the driver's area and seeing the road ahead, I can not see the road and everything has just turned to white! This gave me fear."

[SAN MANUEL] Pangasinan | The Backride Tour

TEASER: "How I love the experience of getting familiar to a place while riding at the back of a pick-up. I was able to see the left and the right side of the road and smile at the driver of the vehicle coming next to us."

[CERVANTES] Ilocos Sur | It's All Fog at the Historical Bessang Pass

TEASER: "I came here under the scorching heat of the sun in the extended summer for June but reaching the place seems like it is already December..."



Born and Raised in Vigan, Philippines. Hardcore Ilocano-Cordilleran. Professional Nurse on Weekdays. Coffee Addict. Travel Blogger in Between. For collaboration or partnership, email your business proposal at admin@edmaration.com.

Post A Comment:


  1. i have been following this series. very well written and so descriptive that i can feel the emotions. it's like i'm reading a novel full of adventures. thanks for sharing!

  2. mark julius Estur | Hello Mark Julius, I am so honored to learn you're following the series. I just apologize for the time gap it took before publishing the next part. Anyway, I'll try my best to finish the series. I am inspired :)


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