The Dreamweavers of Lake Sebu

National Artist Boi Lang Dulay

Boi Lang Dulay (August 03, 1924 – April 03, 2015) elevated T’boli weaving into an art form, earning for her the Gawad Manlilikha ng Bayan in 1998 for her outstanding craft and masterpieces that made the t’nalak – and the T’bolis – famous the world over.

The T’bolis belong to the many indigenous tribes or “lumads” that live in the hinterlands of the southwestern part of Cotabato. The T’bolis of Lake Sebu in South Cotabato are famous for their dream-inspired and spirit-infused weavings, raised to the level of art by the iconic Boi Lang Dulay, the 1998 Gawad Manlilikha ng Bayan Awardee. Lang Dulay has designed and woven over 100 T’nalaks. She stopped weaving in 2011 due to advancing age and concentrated on designing. The last design she made was bought by the NCCA after she died.

The T'bolis are also well-known for their ornate and intricate brass and beadworks.

The T’bolis are also well-known for their ornate and intricate brass and beadworks.

The T’nalak is a deep brown cloth made from “krungon” or abaca fiber, tie-dyed with intricate designs and produced mostly by the womenfolk of the tribe. According to T’boli tradition, T’nalak designs have been passed down through generations and are revealed to the best weavers in dreams, brought to them by their ancestors.

The T’nalak is so ingrained with spiritual meanings that its production and use is surrounded by a variety of traditions and beliefs.  It is believed that in order to maintain the purity of their art, T’boli women must abstain from “worldly pleasures” while weaving a T’nalak. During weaving, one should not step over the loom, for doing so is to risk illness. Also, cutting the cloth, unless done according to the prescribed norm, will cause sickness or death; and if a weaving is sold, a brass ring is often attached to appease the spirits.

T’nalak production is labor-intensive, requiring both skills and knowledge, and learned at a very young age by the women of the tribe.

Along with the its world-famous T’nalak, T’boli music and dances are also among the indigenous cultural heritage being showcased in Lake Sebu.


Lake Sebu’s Magnificent Seven

Lake Sebu has been dubbed as the “Summer Capital of Southern Mindanao” due to its very cool climate. It is also home to the T’boli Tribe, where they try to keep old traditions and their culture alive, amid the rampant commercialization of the area.

One of Lake Sebu’s prime attraction is the Seven Falls Eco-Tourism Park where guests can try the zipline–touted as the highest in the country–to have a bird’s eye view of the complex’s magnificent waterfalls: Hikong Alo, Hikong Bente, Hikong B’lebel, Hikong Lowig, Hikong K’Fo-i, and two others whose names escaped me.

When itchy feet meet crazy peeps…

Mindanao Road trip 2015

I haven’t finished writing about my Northern Mindanao solo journey yet… when, off to another 7-day Southern Mindanao getaway I went… Life. Is. Good.

From SOCCSKSARGEN to North Cotabato and Maguindanao to the various Davao Regions, to the hills and over mountains, to the rivers and seas and above them… it was one hell of a roadtrip with these fun people: very different in many ways, but all together in one adventure!

So what’s the best recipe for a funtabulous journey?

Gather a bunch of crazy, thrill-seeking people, mix them together in an itinerary-less journey, sprinkle with a dash of anxiety [like not knowing what lies ahead], smother with tons of adventure, and garnish with lots and lots of laughter!

Actually, my MAIN purpose in travelling to this part of Mindanao is to witness this:

Tribu Manubiaw of Tacurong Pilot Elementary School, one of the performers/contestant in #Talakudong2015 Streetdance Competition.

Tribu Manubiaw of Tacurong Pilot Elementary School, one of the performers/contestant in #Talakudong2015 Streetdance Competition.

… the annual Talakudong Festival of Tacurong City in Sultan Kudarat. More on this soon….


I still cannot get my mind off this beauteous creation…

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