A Mark of What I Have Become

December 2015, I’ve grown tired of faking my life. From living up to what others expect me to be and what I should become. From not living up to what I’d like to get a hold of and not listening to what my heart tells me to do. From denying that I am different and seeking approval to act like one. From dying everyday because I am surviving, not living. From the fear of ending up dying without taking all the risks.

And I wished of breaking free from what life has tied me up— responsibilities.

I dreamed of the possibilities but once again, I shut it down. Not because I wanted to, but I needed to put first what I value most (family’s ease of living).

Slowly, I noticed I have grown tired of moving around and have been accustomed of what the city offers me. One time I was at the mall, I got torn apart between buying the bag I’d like to bring on my travel and spending less to have enough travel funds.

I know myself that it is ordinary for girls to get too materialistic when they want to look good. However, this won’t match well with the simple life I have been dreaming of. I then questioned my heart if I am still passionate about my travels or am I just traveling to let the social media know what my lifestyle is.

12974332_1298102153537941_2044592254957361815_n

April 2016, I traversed Negros and Siquijor with my travel half @mikeaunzo . I feel both pressured and stressed of how it might go cause I understand well how this trip’s outcome can affect my sentiments towards traveling.

After spending 5 days wandering, all I sense was nostalgia towards what I felt in Siargao (place of rebirth). I reminisced how I laughed without any holdbacks when I tell my stories to those people who shared the same passion I have. I remembered what made me love the idea of packing and leaving without the fear of what tomorrow may bring.

I have just never felt so complete when I travel. I don’t mind what I wear, how my skin burns to dark brown or if I didn’t wear make up. Learning one’s difference from my customs was enough for me to go on and fight for what I believed I deserve.

Wholeheartedly, I decided to get a tattoo to mark a year of when I started my journey.

It was April 2015 when I traveled to Sagada, the first DIY destination where I don’t know anybody. I have revised my itinerary several times, packed too many clothes of what I needed and had fears. Yet it was one of the most memorable adventures I’ve ever had.

And I wanted the tat to be different as it would be my first one so I plan of doing it with Apo Whang Od, the last mambabatok (traditional Kalinga tattooist) from the Butbut tribe and the oldest tattoo artist in the Philippines.

April 22, 2016.

I traveled  on my own to Kalinga at 7PM and left the gang in Ilocos. I found excitement and fear both chilling my vines as I do my first solo backpacking.

The bus ride took 7 hours and I arrived in Tuguegarao, Cagayan at 2 AM. I first looked for a nearby pharmacy where I can buy the goods, medicines and candies I’ll bring for the tribe. The trike was overpricing but I didn’t mind as I got no other means of transportation. Afterwards, I asked the trike driver to dropped me off the van station for Tabuk, Kalinga. Since it was quite early, I slept at the bench while waiting for the first trip.

The van got fully loaded around 5 AM. What I love the most in the mountain province is the scenery you’ll get to see at sunrise. Those lush greens and brown mountain ranges that’s never ending.

13129103_10206079621092281_1076722817_o

 

I arrived in St. William’s Cathedral at Tabuk, Kalinga around 6AM and I waited for a couple of hours since the jeepneys or mini-buses going to Tinglayan have been limited which makes way for illegally-operating vans to run into business. Thanks to the trike driver who leaded me to one!

We coursed the mountain highway for 4 hours before I reached the Sleeping Beauty Inn. There I met my three hilarious guides from the Butbut tribe that was sent by Charlie Pan-oy.

I was shocked getting three guides as I read in the blog that you need to pay P1,000 per guide but the trio explained that they’re sharing it. We ride a motorbike to the turning point and they brought my belongings as we trek up to Buscalan where Apo Whang Od is.

You’ll see rice terraces along the way and a waterfall where you should see some ganjas growing wild. Upon arriving, they gave me a cup of the good tasting Kalinga brewed-coffee which you shouldn’t miss. Undeniably, traveling for 19 hours knocked me down to sleep.

April 24, 2016.

I woke up early to see the sunrise. At 5 AM, the villagers are already awake and you’ll see wild pigs roaming around the rice paddies. I hand out the matches to the elders and kids went running to me when they saw me giving candies. I can sense how simple and happy their living is.

Processed with VSCO with p5 preset

Apo Whang Od was pretty tired and not in the mood because she tattooed a number of guests the day before as it was the weekend. Fortunately, the guides was able to convinced her to start the session by 7 AM.

I needed to travel back to Manila the same day so I was kind of worried as we got a long list of visitors who would like to get a tattoo. However my guides were pretty confident that they’ll get me in line.

While waiting, I get to talked to two Cebuanos who went there with a group and it was great speaking with them in our native tongue.

Processed with VSCO with p5 presetProcessed with VSCO with p5 preset

I watched Apo Whang Od while she tapped into my skin. I want to scream and cuss but the rhythm of the tapping stick made me trance into the Kalinga mark.

I turned my head away as I’m afraid of seeing the bloody mess and trusted on my guts that I can bear the pain. Numbed with the beating, I know for sure there will be no turning back after this. There would be chances of not getting a job or countries that would ban my entry. However, I don’t mind.

It was never the path I choose. I never wished to work in the corporate world and look well-groomed.

I am a wild soul. Free from rules and limits. Never giving a shit to human judgments. And my decision was sealed by the living legend, Apo Whang Od with a mark of the Kalinga’s Crab, the wanderer.

I was happy with my travel. The Butbut tribe has a never ending hospitality and treated me specially as I was the only woman who dared to travel solo up to their village as what they told me.

They even joked that I climbed up to their village because I was broken-hearted and Kuya Charlie made me an engagement ring to give to my future lover.

They complimented me for being brave to get my first tattoo with Apo Whang Od, whom some had backed out after seeing her tattoo session.

And I surely didn’t missed the chance to get the signature of her two successors, Ilyang and Grace. My guides were shocked as it was the first of a guest to get a complete set of signatures from the three Mambabatoks and I have it tattooed on a vertical six-connected signature dots which was unusual and a first.

13120630_10206078824072356_1882887962_o
Kuya Ambhoy, Jones Simeon and Olivier Luis: the trio guides
Processed with VSCO with p5 preset
I waved goodbye but I’ll come back with goods from Cebu
P.S.

You can read Potpot’s blog for a detailed trail when going to Kalinga or send me a comment below.

 

Advertisements

44 Comments Add yours

  1. MikeAunzo says:

    Travel half, so happy to have read this ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. charmaignenavaja says:

      I am happy too with where we are now asawa. From our fragile heart to a spontaneous women! CHARING! HAHA :* I miss you.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. MikeAunzo says:

        Haha miss you more!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Ma Nieves Laquindanum says:

    A good read. Especially from a starter like you. Keep it up girl!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. charmaignenavaja says:

      Aw! Thanks girl. ❤ Hope to see you soon :*

      Like

  3. Great thoughts, beautiful tat 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. charmaignenavaja says:

      Thanks Ate! Hope to see you soon. If you’re free, I’ll be in Ayala this Tuesday at Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.

      Like

  4. odyssaa says:

    Fan of your tattoo! I love your photos as well. I understand your thoughts about having a moment of learning and discovery once you start travelling. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your story!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. charmaignenavaja says:

      Thank you! Tried my best to take wonderful photos to remind me of all my adventures!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. odyssaa says:

        That’s the best thing to do aside from experience the travel itself.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow! Youngot me thinking how much travelling changed me. From pleasing people to now, pleasing myself alone. Adding your blog to my book mark! I enjoyed reading your articles.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. charmaignenavaja says:

      Thank you! Your words motivate me to write more. 💖☺️

      Like

  6. ErwinWho says:

    Damn! your tattoo is, wait for it…. legendary! That was a brave move for you to go solo in Kalinga, I am from mountain province as well and yes, the hospitality is one of a kind up there.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. charmaignenavaja says:

      Haha. Thanks! I really want to do solo backpacking up there and I’d like to do it once a year

      Like

  7. wandercez says:

    Your tat.. love it! ❤ be free brave one. You are on your own on this. Keep on going. ☺

    Liked by 2 people

    1. charmaignenavaja says:

      💖 Thank you! I will someday, just need to be patient for awhile.

      Like

  8. Maria Adriano says:

    Your soul is inspiring, I wish I was as brave as you are. May the universe bring you to more places. ❤ And please move your trip to Siargao a little sooner, so I can meet you. JK!! :))

    Liked by 2 people

    1. charmaignenavaja says:

      Thank you! I’m glad if I can inspire others and I hope one day I get to travel more often to share more stories with youu

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Wow! Your first paragraph almost matched one of my journal entries. Anyway I commend you for going up there alone and getting those tattoo. Awesome!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. charmaignenavaja says:

      Thank you! It was my first solo travel. ☺️ Let me check your blog.

      Like

  10. Why do I find myself in your post? The tats, Sagada… being torn between spending and saving for the next trip. Soul mate? HAHA. Great story. Pwede i-like 100 times? 😀 😀 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. charmaignenavaja says:

      Hahaha! Salamat kaayu. Lami kaayu mugasto oi. Taga Cebu ka?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hahaha. Mulang! Init kaayo ang kwarta samtang napas atong mga kamot. Taga-Cebu? Kaayo! HAHAHA. born and raised! NYAHAHAHA

        Liked by 1 person

        1. charmaignenavaja says:

          Hahahahhaa agree! Hala nohhh. Nagkita namo Michael??

          Liked by 1 person

  11. inmyownatlas says:

    Everytime I see your photos getting a tattoo asawa they remind me of how brave you are to let it all your issues in and then just let them go in a blink of an eye. Superwoman? Let’s travel more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. charmaignenavaja says:

      Huhu. Sige kog agda nimo laag, pero busy na kaayu kag schedule :(( Thanks for the kind words asawa, I’m missing the whole gang while uploading the pictures

      Liked by 1 person

  12. hellorelyn says:

    Ohh the adult life! Figuring out things in my life too but traveling is simple one of the most satisfying things in the world. It’s best to travel when we are young 🙂 Btw, Wang-od looks like the sweetest woman. Hope to meet her someday. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. charmaignenavaja says:

      You should! She’s one of the most carefree woman I’ve ever met

      Like

  13. Joser Ferreras says:

    Very honest post! I’m still waiting for the day I’d have the guts to get a tattoo myself haha so good job on that! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. charmaignenavaja says:

      Thank you! Whatever’s referaning yoou from getting one, i hope you’ll get the guts to overcome it one day! It feels good to have one. Serves like a reminder when you tend to forget your purpose. ❤

      Like

  14. Kat says:

    First of all, congrats on your first solo backpacking trip and that beautiful tats that you got from Apo Whang-od.

    I love the first paragraphs of this post, it just rings true to me. Sometimes when a new place gets discovered or popular in social media, it becomes difficult for us to discern if we want to see it because it’s interesting or because we don’t want to be left behind by our travel peers. We need that moment of silence where we have to listen to ourselves and what we truly want. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. charmaignenavaja says:

      Totally agree Kat! Slowly I realized, its not about the destination, its about the people you meet along the road. 🙂

      Like

  15. “I have just never felt so complete when I travel. I don’t mind what I wear, how my skin burns to dark brown or if I didn’t wear make up. Learning one’s difference from my customs was enough for me to go on and fight for what I believed I deserve.” RIGHT ON!

    I’m also planning to get a tat this year. So, what was the meaning of the tat they made for you? Will they ask you what you want? Will they let you share your story first before they decide what to imprint on you?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. charmaignenavaja says:

      Whang Od doesn’t speak Tagalog so you may have troubles telling your story but your guide sure can translate it for you. Commonly, you just choose from the designs they have on a board they’ll show before you get the tattoo. My tat is the most popular choice for travelers cause it means “the wanderer”.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oooh. Thanks for the info. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  16. everywherewithferna says:

    There’s nothing more fulfilling than traveling all by yourself… it is where I’m most powerful in my own skin 🙂 braver than i never thought I am… I started at age 17 and it is where it all started. 😉 there are so much things to see and do… I got so envy with your kalinga trip to whang od… I’ve never been there yet.. and I know I will be there in an unpexpected way.. let the universe showed everything for you.. keep those feet walking… and oh.. the tattoo is pretty amazing.. hope you could be in Siargao soon too.. Have a happy travels

    Liked by 2 people

    1. charmaignenavaja says:

      Thank you! I am. I’ll be back by September for 8 days. 😁

      Like

  17. Yrwin Denzel says:

    Wow you are very lucky to have gotten a tattoo by Apo Whang Od! I have not had any intentions to get a tattoo yet, but her story is really inspiring! My friend went there before and hiked just to get inked by her! It must have been worth it! Glad you are breaking free from the norm!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. charmaignenavaja says:

      Thanks! I’m really proud of it but there are instances I get to have some fears that it may cause me to have troubles working abroad. 😂✌🏻️

      Like

    2. charmaignenavaja says:

      The trip is totally worth it. It’s like going through a lot before reaching Nirvana but the tattoo’s pretty painful specifically if you get it from Whang Od. 😁

      Like

  18. This post hit me! ❤ Travelin really would teach you a lot of lessons! Right on, ate! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. charmaignenavaja says:

      💙

      Like

  19. Marge Gavan says:

    Kudos to you not only for traveling solo and getting marked by Apo but also for sticking to your guns. We all grew up trying to follow what the society dictates but only a few of us have the courage to deviate.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. charmaignenavaja says:

      Thanks! 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.