Lake Sebu: The T’boli tribe

A Tboli girl playing a native instrument

A Tboli girl playing a native instrument

The Tboli tribe of Lake Sebu is one of the indigenous people in Southern Mindanao. Known for their excellent skills in weaving and metal works, they are able to produce their one of a kind Tboli cloth, the Tinalak and fine metal works from musical instruments to swords. Most of them also has talents in making wooden collectibles from beads to bracelets and other bling-blings you might think. Indeed, the Tbolis is one culturally rich and talented tribe if not also, one of the most colorful in the country.

A cultural presentation

A cultural presentation

Knowing this, I know we have to see Tbolis in their fully garbed glory. But it would seem that most Tbolis no longer dress as they used to be, they wear casual clothes now like regular folks and only wear their traditional clothes on special events. Good thing Punta Isla Resort have this cultural presentations where native Tbolis perform their native songs, music and arts. Finally we get to see them in their colorful wears and was able to watch their culturally rich show.

Popular Tboli personality, Lola Mundi Ba-ay

Popular Tboli personality, Lola Mundi Ba-ay

Outside the resort, we also looked for a native Tiboli village where we could find, actual weaving of Tinalak being done. It was a bit tricky looking for one but we indeed found a nice Tboli village and met quite a popular Tboli personality, Lola Mundi Ba-ay. Lola Mundi,, amusingly, seems to be used to projecting at cameras and we found out later she had guested on some TV shows in Manila. She can only speak on her native tongue, but fortunately, her daughter, Milagros was there to help us interpret and give us some information.

Lola Mundi and her weaved Tinalak

Lola Mundi and her weaved Tinalak

Lola Mundi showed us her place where she weaves her Tinalak. A Tinalak cloth is one of the tribes traditional properties usually exchanged during marriages and used as coverings to a newly born. It is made of fine abacca strands and usually takes weeks to months just to finish weaving a whole yard, after which they would dye the cloth with their designs. Lately, this traditional cloth has been used commercially for different purposes. High grade Tinalak are usually sold from 400-800 pesos.

Tboli children

Tboli children

Leaving the village, we also passed by some native houses where kids were curiously peeking by the door. At first they were amusingly shy, hiding in their houses, but soon they have warmed up and started smiling at our cameras.

33 Responses to “Lake Sebu: The T’boli tribe”

  1. Glad you showed us some people from the Tboli tribe . I already expected that they wouldn’t wear their traditional clothes anymore. Sayang, those traditional clothes are very beautiful!

    Reply
  2. Great pics. Their gong setup looks like kulintang and/or the Javanese/Indonesian gamelan. Were you able to record any of their music? Would be interesting to hear it.

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  3. The first pic is great – very colorful costumes indeed . The traditional way of weaving with abaca is one thing I would very much like to see :)

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  4. galing! interesado din ako sa kultura ng mga t’boli. isang trabahadora ng bro ko t’boli. dapat nga mainterview ko sya kung bakit lumipat sya dito sa maynila.

    :D

    Reply
  5. Thanks so much, Ferdz, for featuring the T’boli people. I had the chance to purchase two blouses last year – one for men, another a woman’s blouse – and they are now framed and hanging in our dining area. Very expensive, I must say, but the quality is fantastic and the details, mind blowing.

    I love the tinalak that you featured. If you’ve noticed, they do not weave human figures into their work. Rather, they feature animals, usually lizards.

    BTW, I never knew they ever used a kulintangan. Isn’t this a Maranao musical instrument? I also have serious doubts about that brass belt the lady in the 1st photo is wearing. If I am not mistaken, it is a Manobo original, or that of the Talaandigs of Bukidnon where copper and brass are usually employed in making such ornaments and statuettes.

    Trivia: The sides of the LRT2 trains feature T’boli designs in purple .

    Reply
  6. wow, the lake sebu posts are trickling in. nice shots bai! here’s to looking forward to the next trip. 30 more days to go!

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  7. One thing I have observed is that aside from being colorful, the crafts they make have a certain form of elegance that I imagine them to be globally marketable, so much better than those done by other tribes like Yakan and Badjaos. At least that is my perception.

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  8. I’ve read and hear about the T’boli tribe and they fascinate me. I’d love to see them weave Tinalak though. Interesting, diba?

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  9. Wow, I could really appreciate the T’boli’s now after this post Ferdz. The tinalak is beautiful. I can’t believe it’s only P400 – P800. I wish that Lola Mundi would pass on her weaving skills to the next generation.

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  10. i hope these tribe will never disappear, the culture and arts that they have should really be preserved…

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  11. Reading this Ferdz made me realized I am a stranger to my own homeland. Seriously…I was so sheltered, I almost never went anywhere. Glad to be reading this blog though…it’s like catching up on what I have missed.

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  12. I’m from Mindanao but haven’t been there in that part of the island. Those are awesome photos. Would like to visit such place someday…

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  13. Terrific!

    kulintang is a native music instrument of the philippines
    kulintangexperience.ph/
    online kulintang hehe! wak na piano!

    Reply
  14. Roderick Sibelius

    I would like to express my gratitude for creating this website and posting about the T’boli Tribe of Southern Cotabato.
    It’s a worderful discovery that such a PEACE LOVING, GOOD NATURED TRIBE and they have lived there for centuries or maybe thousands of years. I learn that the original Indigenous Peoples of the PHILIPPINES were SEFL-SUSTAINING LIVING WITH ABUNDANCE IN NATURE LIKE EDEN OR PARADISE. They DRESS COLORFULLY, DANCE GRACEFULLY IN IMMITATION OF THE BIRDS ON THE GROUND. A TREASURE TO BE FOUND.

    IT IS SAD THAT COLONIZERS IN THE PAST and the CONTINUING MODERN ADVANCEDMENT OF SO CALLED ECONOMIC PROGRESS COMING FROM THE OUTSIDE IS AN OMINOUS THREAT TO THEIR LAND AND SELF-SUSTAINING NATURAL WAY OF LIFE. WE MUST PRESERVE THIS TRIBE FROM GOING TO EXTINCTION BY THE RAVAGE INFLUENCES OF MODERN CONSUMERISM, POLITICAL CORRUPTION, and INDIFFERENCE TO THEIR WAY OF LIFE, WHICH IS THE ANTIDOTE TO A CANCEROUS AND COLLAPSING WESTERN ECONOMY…

    PRESERVE T’BOLI CULTURE, THE PRISTINE LANDS AND FORESTS and LAKE SEBU to IT’S NATURAL STATE.

    may the SPIRIT of DWATA PROTECT ALL OF IT.

    Reply
  15. MICHAEL P. ESPESOR

    ang galing ng tribe natin dahil sariling atin to. but the most we can do that is to protect their culture ultil the next civilization because they wanted to make a unique status to developed in our cultural standard to build it better and progressive one in this nation.

    Reply
  16. tey tilob! I’m so proud of being a T’boli from lamdalag, lake sebe, south Cotabato, galing ng mga katribo ko. ipagpatuloy of preserving our culture and transfer it generation by generation, sayang naman kung mawawala.

    Reply
  17. anthony t. mhek jr.

    hmmm, great to see all of this info regarding my tribe…i’m proud of being t’boli…coz aside from thier colorful & interesting cultures, i should say t’boli people of lake sebu are beutiful….i consider my hometown as a paradise, that’s why i should go home every weekends to unwind & relax…tnx ferdz

    anthony

    Reply
  18. the tribe of t’boli joins the fast pace of modernity in Mindanao. how are the people in near the site of development affected?
    some rumors would say that the tribe might lose its bearing with the place and a new culture of T’boli would take shape. how true is this?

    -Is there a conflict between the tribesmen such as the elders of the community and the inculturation or modernity?

    -What are the effects of modernity to the people of T’boli?

    Reply
  19. Ang galing.. tboli are amazing…. and I am proud of it…
    Talented… wow galing… respect our culture….

    Reply

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