Like I said on my previous post, I didn’t just come here for the tattoo. Although Apo Whang-Od’s prestige and rise to popularity was what initially lead me here, I also longed to see what kind of civilisation laid up in the mountains only accesible by foot. I wanted to see what how they lived, how they worked and the kind of people they were. I wanted to see just how remote it really was, and yeah, it was probably the most remote place I’ve been to so far, even with the amount of visitors that were there. Like I said, this place is only accesible by foot, going down one mountain and up another. Their food was grown or hunted and their water was from the mountains. Of course things were brought in from outside such as clothes, building materials and their electricity came from Bontoc as well as other things such as soap and snacks but those are objects of luxury and things they could have easily gone without. Technically, you don’t need money to live here. You had food, water and shelter but of course in the system that we live in money is still required which is why the money from the travellers and visitors are a great help for the community as it helps them build better houses, drainage, schools and a more organised way of living. I was speaking to an elder and she told me about how the only problem they have with visitors are the amount of trash ie. plastic, they bring in. They cannot dispose of this properly and requires them to carry a big load on to the other side which may or may not be picked up by the local authorities. This is why they would like visitors to carry their trash out with them. Apart from that, the Kalinga live in peace and are very strict when shame and embarrassment such as trouble making come their way. Another elder was telling me that people who cause problems are fined 10,000 pesos on the spot. Not exactly sure exactly how that works but i’m guessing it’s the most extreme, legal way to deal with such problems.
Even though my time here was too short for me to really feel immersed, it would have been very easy to, had this kind of lifestyle been something you desired to experience, I know I did. The people are very welcoming and even suggested for me to stay longer if I was able to. There are people who have been here for weeks and even met a man from France who has been living here for a month. There is no time limit. Once I return again to The Philippines, I will most likely embark on a journey towards Buscalan once more and stay a lot longer. To be a part of this small community, hidden away in the Philippine mountains.