fang od

Taking the Stairs - February 2014

I had no idea what this trip would be like. I’ve never explored mountains before.

I was never prepared for this trip. Physically and mentally. I even brought the wrong kind of shoes. Something for the beach. I didn’t know there’d be too much hiking involved. Getting to Tappiya Falls in Batad was no joke. See for yourself. Without the breathtaking view of the rice terraces, it would be impossible for me to get to the bottom of the mountain to see the waterfalls. Thank God, I was with free spirited people whom I made friends with on top of the Jeepney.

Nature has its way of surprising us when she shows off. I wouldn’t complain though.

The eighth wonder of the world right before my eyes. I used to only see this in my history book. I’m still so amazed of the beauty that man has created.

I expected so much from Sagada. Not that I was disappointed. It was beautiful but I wanted more. And I couldn’t decide which way to go. To Kalinga or to Baguio?

I got sick. So, I stayed overnight in Bontoc. I needed time to plan and decide. I almost lost my mind. Out of the blue, someone decided for me. Thank God for technology. I swear I needed the company. He told me to go to Baguio. It was safer. He thought. But the next morning, I felt better so I went to Kalinga.

After the 2-hour bus ride from Bontoc to Luplupa, this kind family from Kalinga brewed their traditional coffee and prepared lunch for me and Francis, a Filipino traveler that I had met in the bus.

After what seemed to be like a life threatening roller coaster ride with a motorbike from Luplupa, I have finally reached my destination and my main goal for this trip. To see Fang-od. The oldest traditional tattoo artist. Some say she’s 91, others say she’s 94. They don’t count their ages in Kalinga village. Instead, they count how many Christmas they celebrated. I couldn’t get a tattoo. But to see her right before my eyes and to be able to take a photo of her is more than enough. My trip was complete, I’d say I can go home right then and there. But then there’s no easy way I could. It took me 3 hours to climb the mountain to get there with the help of my guide. I needed to stay and catch the first bus the next morning.

Grace, Fang-od’s niece who inherited her skills adopted me for a night.

Had a quick tour around Kalinga Village before having dinner.

The Sleeping Beauty in the morning. Do you see it? I don’t exactly remember the legend behind this mountain. But it’s named after its structure. A girl sleeping soundly.

I was so ready to go home the following day. I crossed too many mountains and witnessed a car accident the previous day. Adventure? Too much, I’d say. But it’s never a waste of time when traveling. Either good or bad, you’ll always gain something.

In the middle of nowhere, the bus that I took from Buscalan overheated. The machine was on fire. Everyone hurriedly got off the bus. Good thing we were all safe. We waited for another bus to arrive. Luckily, there was. Off we go, at long last!

“Life is a series of pulls back and forth. You want to do one thing, but you are bound to do something else. Something hurts you, yet you know it shouldn’t. You take certain things for granted, even when you know you should never take anything for granted.”

I came unprepared. But then, why prepare? What happens, happens. 

You’re only young once. Take the stairs.