Tag: Philippines

Fresh Prince of Baler

Fresh Prince of Baler

Rain rain go away, come back another day.  Last week, it started raining.  And it didn’t quit for 168 hours.  We been through every kind of rain there is.  Lil bitty skinny rain, big ole’ fat rain, rain that flew in sideways, and sometimes, rain even seemed to come straight up from underneath.  Unfortunately, it still hasn’t stopped.  We experienced our first typhoon this past week and it killed all ideas we had for outdoor projects.  Given this, I still managed to finalize my first ecobrick video and come up with the outline for my second one.  I also completed my interview video edits and scheduled my final three for this upcoming week.  Other than that, the only other thing on my to-do list is to write up my final solar dehydrator blueprint for Friendchips.

This past weekend we went to the small beach town of Baler (a soon-to-be major, tourist attraction).  The first night we just went to a restaurant and then Jake and I played some intense chess (he beat me 2 games to 1.  The last game he literally beat me by one move but, it’s whatever).  The next day we hiked through the rain through a beautiful forest and a couple rivers.  sadly, our trip was cut short because we eventually encountered waters that were too high.  We decided to set up camp at a nice stream with a makeshift diving board.  Against my best judgment, I decided to jump in the water a couple times although my tattoo isn’t fully healed (don’t worry it’s safe and progressing well).  Later we had some drinks and hit a couple bars.  I befriended the guy who owned the bar.  He was some ex-pirate that had put on a couple pounds and moved to Baler start a new life with his wife.  He ended up giving me his treasured wrist band and a couple of us concluded the night with some skinny dipping on the beach.  The next day we finally had some sunshine and clear skies so we decided to hit the beach and some of the group tried to surf.  Katie and I were sidelined because of our tattoos, so I got a lot of reading done.  We ended the trip with some burritos and a long drive home.

This week will be full of community immersion and project wrap ups, as we have officially begun our final week at GK.  Last night, Jake and I went to have dinner at our tita’s sisters house in Angat.  This was by far the best meal I’ve had in the Philippines and it was a true bonding experience.  Hopefully, we’ll get to have our final meals with a couple other community members we’ve come to be good friends with.  The French interns are going to throw us a Despedida on Thursday and Friday will be dedicated to our final goodbyes.  Becuase of the rain, I don’t have much to update you on.

Becuase of the rain, I don’t have much to update you on.  Just stay on the lookout for my final blog post that I’ll be writing on my way to Thailand.


*Insert funny rice pun here*

This past weekend I had the pleasure of riding in a 13 person van crowded with 16 people for 9 hours.  The time had come for us to take the road trip that would lead me to the great Whang-od.  But, before we reached her, we made a couple of stops.

We left at 8 pm Friday night to arrive in Banaue at 4 am Saturday morning.  Somehow, someway, my crankiness threw off my thinking enough to convince myself that I did not need to eat before our 4-hour trek through Banaue Rice Terraces.  Oh well.  After watching our first mountain top sunrise, we got dropped off at the start point and took off.  Now, I apologize, but I’ve never been one to go into great detail about describing scenery and places I visit.  I always feel like my words don’t do such places justice.  Same with pictures, a picture is worth a thousand words, but a thousand words aren’t enough to describe what I saw this weekend.  So I’ll give a brief description of the view and let pictures do most of the talking:

1st: Banaue Rice Terraces

After the rice terraces, we packed up and went to our hostel in Sagada, where we rested for the rest of the night.

The next day we woke up at 4 am again to go to the Sea of Clouds.  Just take a look:

2nd: Sea of Clouds

After leaving the most stunning view I’ll probably ever see in my life we took off for the Hanging Coffins in Sagada.

3rd: Hanging Coffins

– forgot to take pictures of the actual coffins :/

OK, now it was time to go meet the legend herself.  We drove another 2 hours through stunning/ dangerous mountains.  Finally, we had made it to Tinglayan, Kalinga.  My heart started racing once I saw the remote village up in the mountains.  I was ready for our third mountain hike in 24 hours.  Mai, our supervisor went to talk to the locals and get us a tour guide.  Unfortunately, she came back with devastating news.  Apparently, Whang-od was not doing tattoos today, a large group of foreigners had arrived the day before us.  She said that if I wanted to get a tattoo from the legend I would have to stay overnight. Imagine the disappointment I felt upon the realization that the tattoo I had been looking forward to for the last 4 months would not be happening unless I stay alone in a remote, mountain village with no phone, and somehow had to make the journey all the way back to GK the next day alone.   Although nobody else was up for it, I packed my bag and we hiked up to the village.  When we got to the top, our tour guide was going to take us to at least meet the adorable old lady, but her line was too crowded and we could not get through.

So, defeated and disappointed, we walked all the way back to the van and went home.




I’m kidding.  Luckily, a reporter had recently told Whang-od that her Kalinga tattoo style was a dying art and would end with her.  When she learned this, she decided to teach 5 of her nieces and daughters the art.  (Sidenote: Whang-od doesn’t have a clue that she’s famous…  Crazy right?)  So, Katie and I went up a couple more levels and found two of her nieces who only had one person in the chair, meaning we could get our tattoos and make it back in time to catch the van.  I went first.  I sat down in the chair and told her what I wanted.  My idea was to get the moon and sun Kalinga design circled around the tattoo of my sister’s tombstone on my back.

Nope…  they couldn’t find a circle big enough to trace the design around so I had to think of a new tattoo on the spot.  If you’ve ever gotten a tattoo, you can imagine how frustrating it would be to find out you have to come up with a new tattoo on the spot, after the one you had been planning for weeks now could not be done.  So I let Katie go first.  She got a scorpion on her wrist, and it only took 10 minutes (and looks pretty sick).  Now I was ready with my new design.  When I watched Katie get hers, I thought she was just being a baby when she was cringing at the pain.  I knew these tattoos hurt more than normal machine tattoos, but it couldn’t be that much worse, right?  I mean, it was only a small wrist tattoo.  So I sat down.  I’m not going to lie, my other tattoos did not come close to the pain of the needle and hammer.  So for about 45 minutes, I sat with my jaw and fists clenched.
It was 100% worth it:

I decided to go with the serpent eagle design.  Not for any particular reason, I just thought it looked cool.  I found out after, that the Kalinga serpent eagle represents “freedom through bravery.”  I guess that has a pretty nice ring to it.

Anyways, we paid for our tattoos (mine only cost me 800 pesos, which is about $16 USD…absolute steal), thanked Marie, and made our way back down the mountain.

I’m pretty sad that I did not get to get a tattoo directly from Whang-od, but I heard hers hurt a lot worse (I’m also trying to go back next week to get mine from her).  Also, I got to see her in action and meet a couple of her sisters.  Funny story: I did not know that she had sisters, so I went up to one of them thinking she was Whang-od and shook her hand and attempted to hug her.  So that was pretty embarrassing.  The rest of the trip was just a bunch of uncomfortableness and complaining by myself and fellow interns and we made it back to the farm around 2 am Monday morning.  Safe to say, this was a great trip filled with even greater memories.  Now we only have two weeks left on the farm.  Last week, I made my first ecobrick video covering ecobrick capacity.  This week, I will begin my next video while waiting for final approval on my first video.  Other than that, I will be sitting around, waiting for my next opportunity to be used on the farm.  Waiting for the call when I am needed.  I may not be the intern that the farm deserved, but I am the one that it needs… Laurence, The Dark Night Rices…  (had to get my rice pun in there :p)

Oh btw, Hi Katie’s mom.