Fang-od, herself, prepared what she would be using for the tattooing session – a small piece of metal for drawing, charcoal, a thorn, a stick where the thorn would be attached, another stick that would be used to support embedding the tattoo on the skin, and two stools where she and Tara would be sitting on.
For a moment, I considered getting a tattoo myself, because of how difficult the hike to get to Buscalan was for me. But, I didn’t want it to be a reaction to the circumstance I was in. So, I opted not to get one. I resolved that I would think about it some more, when my mind’s clear. And, when I do choose to get a tattoo, I’ll just do the hike once more.
I imagined, though, that it must be weird for Tara having a thorn poking at her skin in the rhythm of two sticks beating against each other. I asked her, “How are you?” She replied, “I’m good!” “It’s not painful?” I asked. “Nope. Not at all.” Wow.
It was such a privilege being able to witness the practice of this tradition. Fang-od looked like she was in her own world, barely lifting her head to check what’s going on around her. She got teary-eyed several times, maybe from the fatigue that her eyes were experiencing while focusing and being precise in her art.
After a two-hour session, Tara finally got what we went here for – a tattoo by the last Kalinga tattoo artist, Fang-od.