EVENING & MORNING WITH KALINGA
PHOTOS COURTESY OF JULIE TOLENTINO
JULIE TOLENTINO: BATOK TATTOO WHANG OD'S LEGACY
  On the evening after we tattooed, we ate together including sips of the pungent chicken broth and garlicky greens and syrupy white rice offered as our meal. Many of the elder females, including young Grace and Lili, came in to spend time with us and sip fresh mountain water. We also shared a toast of very strong local rum. They wanted to share their daily lives and community rituals: their work and expertise with the backbreaking work of the rice fields, raising farm animals, cooking, and the entire town’s possession of a single cellphone, used only for medical emergencies or reporting a death, and how much they cherish the rich rural life they lead – citing sex and riddling each other with dirty jokes as their greatest pastimes!
 
Upon our departure, our final thank yous were mixed with teary promises to return. We adorned Whang Od with decorative beaded jewelry and handed over anything anyone had asked for: aspirin, antibiotic creams, band aids, over-the-counter allergy meds, socks, tissues or soap we carried in with us! Of course, we exchanged appropriate monies in dollars and pesos in return for the experienced tattoo work, the overnight stay and the hospitality.


August 2012