Luzon Travel

The Smile of Butbut Tribe

Long weekend! What to do? Where to go? Let’s go to the Cordillera Region and meet some new people. The Butbut Tribe with the Butbut language with a Butbut smile and the warm Butbut hospitality. Simple people with a simple life living on top of the mountain and we’ve enjoyed being their new companions.

Sidetrip at Banaue


Before heading to Buscalan Village, we made a stop at Banaue to do some selfies with our new friends. From L-R: Sir Ryan, Ma’am Kring, Ma’am Emi, and Sir Yodi.

The Scenery


If you’re not a fan of trekking or hiking but are looking for the tattoo piercing from Apo Whang-Od, thereis nothing to worry about. It’s just a matter of 30++ minutes of up and down trail. But if you love taking too much photos or selfies, it might take you the whole day. Why? The place is so mesmerizing and adorable.

Do remember to travel light and bring some water with you. If you need some refreshments, around half of the trail, you will pass their fresh and cold waterfalls and it is safe to drink. And also another stop over for photo ops.


The Butbut Tribe


The Kalinga Tribes used to be headhunters and tattooed people of the Cordillera. They never interacted with the lowlanders and also have never been under any foreign rule in our history. One of these is the Butbut Tribe. I’ve been to Tabuk City and heard a lot of stories about tribal wars still occurring within some tribes but in this new era, the Butbut tribe is now gentle, respectful, hospitable and they opened their village to the visitors or tourists. In short, you will no longer get beheaded. Hehe!

If you’re planning to visit, be prepared. There is no cellphone signal, no internet, no fast food and no jejemons but they have happiness in their simplest way. And if you really have plans, never ever forget to bring something for them like candies or toys for the kids and some medicine. It doesn’t matter what, but it will be greatly appreciated.


Apo Whang-Od


For many generations, Kalinga has kept its prized art of tattooing, known locally as “pagbabatok.” It was considered a rite of passage for women about to be married, and was also a symbol of valor and strength for men.  It’s a privilege to get a tattoo from the last tribal tattoo artist Apo Whang-Od, pronounced as Fang-Od. The oldest living Mambabatok of Kalinga at 96 years old who caught the attention of the world with her talents.

Ginhawa and Mandiga
Be patient and endure the pain
after the tattoos are done
Surely, you will become beautiful
You are like Whanna
Who win in battles in warfare
Who went to many villages
To fight
And slay enemies.

But in these modern days, everything is changing and sadly,traditions are slowly becoming forgotten.

How to get there?


It’s either you take the bus via Bontoc or via Tabuk. Then take a Jeep or any trip directly to Tinglayan and get off at Bugnay which is the gateway to Buscalan. This is about 4 – 5 kilometers from the jump off. For us, we joined the tour courtesy of  Extreme Outdoor Traveler and Feelgood Traveler so we didn’t have a problem of walking from Bugnay to Buscalan Jump Off. Then from Jump Off, it’s a 30-minute or so trek, depending on your stamina (and selfie-ness).

To end this article, it hurts but worth it.

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  • I would very much like to go here and get inked by the famous Fang-Od. 🙂 How much do you have to pay for the service? or can we give anything in return?

    • Ten

      It depends on the size. I got mine for 400 Php 1.5 x 1.5 inches.

  • blessingokpala

    wow, I can’t believe that people can build houses on mountains. Beautiful scenario and thanks for sharing.

  • I love it! It’s definitely my dream to go there someday and get tattooed by the legendary WhangOd

  • ButBut is such a cute name for a tribe! I’m not into trekking but I can imagine how that place must have looked like in person.

  • Wow, i really wanted to visit some tribes and experience their way of living…:)

  • The views are definitely breathtaking. It was nice that you were also able to interact and immerse with their local tribes.

  • Ang ganda matagal kuna gusto pumunta sa mga liblib at katutubong kultura..

  • I like the pictures! They are very nice! They show the beauty of Cordillera.

  • I would love to do those kind of trips. I wish I only have friends who’ll do the same with me.

  • Woah. You have met the most famous tattoo artist in the North. Can’t wait to visit the place.

  • Aw, this was an exceptionally good post. Taking the time and actual effort
    to create a great article… but what can I say… I procrastinate a whole lot and never manage to get anything done.

  • One thing I noticed is the Go Pro (or is it a monopod?) you used for these captivating photos. I am thinking to own one for my travels too 🙂

    • Ten

      I’m using Sony AS100vr.

  • I’ve only been to Banaue and I really loved the place. Nice trip!

  • You did a very meaningful trip to that place and I congratulate you for that! Something I want to do soon as well! Good job!

  • I really want to visit this place. It is still possible to get a tattoo there?

    • Ten

      Yes. We will be having an outreach program this December 19. Wanna join?

  • Beautiful place.. And you got your tattoo from Apo Whang-Od? That’s really amazing. 🙂

    • Ten

      We are organizing an outreach program for the kids of Butbut Tribe this coming December 19. We are accepting toy donations and your presence is also encouraged. 🙂

  • Good place! I wish I could go there someday

    • Ten

      We are organizing an outreach program for the kids this coming December 19. We are accepting toy donations and your presence is also encouraged. 🙂

  • Such a nice place and great people. 🙂

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