After getting inked by one of the youngest mambabatok (Check : Journey to Buscalan – Inked by The Youngest Mambabatok), Mr Atong Laguiao guided us all to Whang Od’s house but we were greeted by an overwhelming crowd. We were welcomed with a long queue of tourists out there so instead of waiting for our turn, we decided to start the outreach program for the kids of Buscalan. It is our main purpose after all.
Located somewhere in the village is a small Buscalan Elementary School which is composed of only two rooms. Each room is filled with old wooden chairs, desks and old blackboards and is spacious enough to accommodate at least 20 to 25 students.
For a small village with a population of over 700 with 134 households, I personally think that the school is good enough but the facilities should be improved. Outside the school is a basketball court and a stage.
We set all our things outside. We brought school supplies and some foods and drinks to share. This outreach program was organized by a non-profit group called Yabang Outdoors lead by Mr Khalidberry Finn. It’s a Cavite-based travel group and I was introduced to them by a common friend. Most of their tours were done for a great cause and that includes my very first “Hike for a Cause” experience in “Mt Talamitam” in Batangas (Check: My Very First Hike – Mt Talamitam).
Meeting Whang-Od is truly a great experience but helping these kids and seeing their lovely smiles is even more rewarding. All the kids of Buscalan were called and we were assisted by some elders.
For a small village with limited educational resources, i imagine how hard for these kids to get the kind of quality education they truly deserve. They do not have a library and they don’t have enough textbooks either. You cannot even spot a store for them to buy their schooling needs. Once these kids graduated from Elementary, they need to bear with long and tiring travel just to reach the nearest highschool. Interestingly, I spoke with one of Mr Laguiao’s sons (the one in blue hoodie from the image above) and told me how he managed to get into high school.
He was studying in Bontoc, Mountain Province and was lucky enough to be part of a scholarship program. According to him, he stays in Bontoc for the whole school year along with other high school students like him. They all stay in a boarding house sponsored by their grantors and they also receive monthly allowance from them. He will only get the chance to go back home during summer vacation. It must be a tough journey for him indeed but also an inspiring one. While most of us are complaining about little things we failed to get, here’s a student like him striving hard just to complete his education.
So if ever you try to visit Buscalan, please offer some help and provide some useful educational resources if possible. Notebooks, textbooks, pens and others will be a big help for these kids!
Mr Atong Laguiao was also there to assist us
There was actually another group who will organize another outreach program after us so we really had a short time to finish our activities.
Some kids offered us some music too!
And we had some games for them too. It felt so amazing to see them all smiling and having fun!
If you get a chance too, you can buy any of these wood carved souvenirs. They are quite pricey though but reasonable. Buscalan, after all is not as accessible as Baguio.
The Yabang Outdoors. To check more of their events, feel free to follow them on their Facebook Groups at YABANG OUTDOOR.
Things You Should Know About Buscalan
► Buscalan is one of the 20 Barangays of Tinglayan
► The home of Whang Od and the Butbut tribe
► The village is not accessible by any vehicles (a trekking is required)
► As of 2015 Census, Buscalan has 703 Population with 134 household
► Tour Guide rate ranges from Php1000 per group of five
► Homestay rate ranges from Php300 per person per night
► Tour Guide is highly encouraged as they are the one who can accommodate your schedule with Whang Od.
► Tour guides can also guide you to nearby waterfalls and hot springs
► There is a power supply in the village but weak to zero communication signal
► There’s a school and also a basketball court
► There’s also a chapel nearby
► Take note that there is also a Tourism fee of Php 75
After the outreach program, we went back to Whang Od’s house and finally get a chance to interact with the living legend. Whang-od will mark her signature in our tattoo. More about Whang-Od on my next #JourneyToBuscalan entry.
For the mean time, feel free to watch this video summary
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