THE town of Tinglayan in Kalinga, particularly Barangay Buscalan, was recently “put on the map” so to speak, due to good and bad events that took place recently.
First, the bad news. CIDG files criminal cases against the Tinglayan village head. The punong barangay of Buscalan of this town in Kalinga Province was accused of leading some 150 bolo-wielding residents in forcibly taking away five persons who were arrested by the local police for marijuana cultivation last April 25.
As a result, police officers of the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) Field Unit of Kalinga/Apayao and the Kalinga Provincial Police Office filed administrative and criminal cases against Punong Barangay Leon Lammawen Baydon of Barangay Buscalan in Tinglayan.
An administrative case for Grave Misconduct was filed by the CIDG against Baydon before the Office of the Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon on May 20, 2022; then a criminal case for obstruction of justice under PD 1829 was docketed as NPS 11-10-INV-22E-00045 was also filed against him before the Kalinga Provincial Prosecutors Office on May 23, 2022.
CIDG Cordillera RD Juliet G. Salvador who forwarded a news item to this column said that on April 25, 2022, members of the PNP Regional Mobile Force Battalion 1502nd Maneuver Company who were patrolling a mountainous terrain in Buscalan caught five persons in the act of cultivating marijuana.
They were arrested for violating RA 9165, RA 10591, and the Comelec Gun Ban since the police also confiscated from the five marijuana cultivators illegal firearms in violation of the nationwide gun ban.
While the troops and the arrested persons were moving towards the police station at Centro Buscalan, they were blocked by PB Baydon who led some 150 residents armed with bolos who forcibly took custody of the arrested individuals.
Although provoked and apparently outnumbered, the PNP patrol remained calm during the tense situation to avoid inflicting unnecessary bloodshed or injury to the relatives of the arrested individuals.
The unexpected confrontation could have turned into a bloody fight between the bolo-wielding residents and the policemen had the latter insisted on bringing the five arrested marijuana cultivators to the police station.
Now, the good news. 10,000 tourists and still counting flock to Tinglayan. The Municipal Tourism Office recently said that since a decreasing number of COVID patients has been reported nationwide, more than 10,000 local and foreign tourists have dropped by the place of tattoo artist Whang-od since January.
The 96-year-old Maria Oggay, Kalinga’s oldest living tattoo artist, more popularly known internationally as “Ina Whang-od” reopened her home to tourists in January after the number of visitors dwindled over the last two years during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Reopening her tattoo home shop to local and foreign tourists is certainly a blessing not only for barangay Buscalan but for the whole town of Tinglayan which has been looking forward to the revival of the LGU’s economy and sources of livelihood.
Ina Whang-od of Barangay Buscalan applies her art the traditional way by using a thorn from a citrus tree that is attached to a wood handle, and ink from natural dye and soot.
The National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) noted that Whang-od’s art is not only prominent in Kalinga and the Philippines but recognized internationally; hence, she and the art that she continues to pursue are treasures that must be preserved.
Ina Whang-od was conferred the “Dangal ng Haraya Pamanang Bayan” award (Intangible Cultural Heritage) on June 2018 by the NCCA for promulgating and preserving the Butbut-Kalinga traditional tattoo called “Whatok”.
Jocel Baac who was then governor said that certainly Ina Whang-od’s irreplaceable traditional artistry has contributed and continues to contribute to the awareness of the Kalinga culture and had made an impact on the country’s culture and arts.
NCCA officials also saw that people who had visited her were not only fascinated by the ancient practice, they noticed how kind and hospitable the artist’s family was in welcoming and accommodating villagers and visitors alike.
Aside from Ina Whang-od’s tattoo shop, the other “hot” spots in Tinglayan that tourists can visit are the rice terraces of Ngibat, Tulgao, and Dananao. Then there is the Tulgao Hot Spring, Dananao volcano, Palang-ah Falls, and of course the Chico River that winds down below, following the Bontoc-Kalinga highway.
With these natural tourism attractions, Kalinga has to establish tourist information shops, sell or rent out the camping gear, and train tour guides to ensure the safety of tourists.