Your visit to Lake Sebu in South Cotabato wouldn't be complete without getting acquainted with the T'boli tribe. One of the best ways to learn more about them is to meet Lang Dulay, one of the Philippines' National Living Treasures. For her contribution in the preservation of the T'boli culture and for her fine craftsmanship of the delicate abaca ikat cloth, Lang Dulay was awarded by the National Commission for the Culture and the Arts (NCCA), a "Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan (GAMABA)" award in 1998.
We were so lucky to meet her during our visit in her humble workshop at the Manlilikha ng Bayan Center in Sitio Tukolefa, Lamdalag, Lake Sebu. Even without any appointment, we were warmly welcomed at the 2nd floor of a traditional T'boli house which serves as their workshop. I was amazed by their genuine hospitality and I could feel that they are so happy to see tourists visiting them.
T'nalak weavers are considered "dreamweavers" since their designs are inspired by the patterns they saw from their dreams.
Lang Dulay is considered as a T'nalak Master Weaver who knows more than a hundred designs including the bulinglangit (clouds), the bankiring (hair bangs), and the kabangi (butterfly), among others. She was taught by her mother to weave and started weaving since she was 12 years old.
Now at her 90's Lang Dulay does not weave T'nalak anymore. Instead, she designs the patterns for the T'nalak cloth and let her dreamweavers do the weaving.
T'nalak weaving is a tedious and backbreaking process. From gathering abaca fibers to stripping the stem of the abaca plant into fine fibers using an improvised manual metal stripper.
The fibers are then laid on a bamboo frame where they tie the threads with plastic straw ropes to create a pattern. They are then boiled on a dye to create the patterns. Once the dyed fibers are dried, the actual weaving starts. This could take 3-5 months depending on the intricacy of the pattern.
After the weaving is done, the textile is then polished with a seashell to bring out the cloth's natural luster.
Finished T'nalak fabrics are sold for about 500 pesos per meter from the regular dreamweavers. But the ones designed and signed by Lang Dulay could pitch as much as 1,200 pesos per meter or even higher depending on the complexity of the design. So, if you're visiting them, it's better to prepare some money for you to buy some of their masterpieces.
Each roll is about 7 meters. My friend was allowed to buy 3.5 meters (the shortest you can buy) for 1,000 pesos per meter. It was Lang Dulay herself who cut the roll into half. It's quite an investment. But don't you like to bring home something from a National Living Treasure? If only I brought enough money, I could have bought the other half.
Meeting Lang Dulay and learning a part of the T'boli culture is a great honor and previlege for us. I am so happy to be in the presence of a national treasure. We bid farewell to Lake Sebu's Dreamweavers and thanked them for a day of learning experience.
HOW TO GET TO LAKE SEBU FROM MANILA
The most convenient way to get to Lake Sebu is to fly from Manila to General Santos in South Cotabato. From the airport, make your way to Bulaong Bus Terminal and take a non-stop bus bound for Koronadal City (also known as Marbel). Fare is about 80 pesos and travel time is around 1 hour. At Koronadal Bus Terminal take a bus bound for Surallah, travel time is about 30 minutes and fare is around 25.00 pesos. Upon arrival in Surallah terminal, take a van or jeepney to Lake Sebu. Travel time is about 45 minutes and fare is around 40 pesos. At Lake Sebu, you can get to the Seven Falls by taking a habal-habal for 50.00 pesos per person.
This is part of our 4-day South Cotabato Adventure that happened on August 3-6, 2012. South Cotabato is the 72nd province on my list.
- Lake Sebu's 7 Waterfalls and Zipline
- Lang Dulay, her T'nalak and the T'boli Dreamweavers
- WHERE TO STAY IN LAKE SEBU: Punta Isla Lake Resort
- WHERE TO EAT IN LAKE SEBU: Tilapia Overload at Punta Isla Lake Resort
More photos on Pinoy AdvenTurista's Facebook Page, click here.
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