New season of Ride N’ Seek features Philippines

Jamie Dempsey, host of travelogue Ride N' Seek, shares with Imagine TV Network about combating the traffic in Philippines and why she wants to continue the centipede tattoo that she got while filming the show.

Words by Imagine TV Network

The third season of Ride N' Seek has Jamie Dempsey biking across the populous island of Luzon in the Philippines and embarking on a search for the last remaining tattooist from the Kalinga headhunter tribe. "People may think that female bikers don't have any business being on a bike... But that's not usually people within the biker community," she asserts.

Image credit: HISTORY

The motorocycle community worldwide is a close knit group and male bikers are very welcoming to female bikers, she shares. "I experienced that in every country that I visited." Once, while filming in the Philippines, she recalls meeting a woman who is the president of the local tiger club and says it was really impressive that they had a female heading the club.

"Some of the places that I’m visiting are very different in terms of the way they look or the way they’re laid out but I think each one has their own specialty as well," she shares. "When I was in Borneo, I was on one side of the Coral Triangle but here in the Philippines, I am still in the coral triangle triangle but it's at the other side," she says, adding that she experienced different parts of its underwater beauty.

She notes that like Borneo, Philippines also celebrates the Harvest Festival but says it was interesting to witness how each culture celebrated the festival differently.

Image credit: HISTORY

The highlight of her trip to Philippines was to meet Whang Od, a tattooist from the Kalinga tribe. To get to Buscalan village in the Kalinga province, she had to take a two hour hike. However, once she reached the village, she says she felt euphoric and adds that it was overwhelming to meet the 96-year-old woman. "She lives such a simple life it was very inspiring so for sure that memory is going to stick with me for a very long time," she remarks.

Used to the modern technique where an electric tattoo gun is used, she shares that the tribal method is entirely different. Thorns from the calamansi tree are placed on a bamboo stick and another stick is used for tapping the stick into the skin. For ink, a mixture of ash, charcoal and water is used. She admits she was nervous because she thought it would be really painful but was relieved when it was not as painful as she expected.

"The designs are also something that are very different. [They are] very symbolic, stemming from very natural environments -- everything from shelving inside their homes to insects." The tattoo she got was inspired by the speed and strength of centipedes and it was believed, she says, that when someone has a tattoo of a centipede, they inherit its traits.

"The tattoo that I got was a very small centipede on my shoulder and most of the women in the tribe actually continued the [tattoo] all the way around the back." She shares that she wants to make a personal journey back to Kalinga and complete the tattoo after learning from Wang Od that the other women in the tribe had starting taking up the art form. "If I can get more than one generation of tattoo artist on one tattoo, it will be very special."

Ride N' Seek: Philippines premieres on HISTORY (StarHub TV Channel 401) on Mondays (tonight) at 10pm.

(Amendment on 25 August 2015: The name and village of the tattooist have been amended.)



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