Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Land of the Dreamweavers

I've always been fascinated with the T'nalak fabric made by the T'bolis of South Cotabato and so when I got an invitation to visit the province and meet their weavers, I immediately said yes. I, together with other designers were invited by the Governor, Daisy Fuentes, through Marivic Pineda of GKonomics, Gawad Kalinga's partner in social enterprise development. The good governor wanted us to see the possibility of using their traditional crafts for our designs and experience first hand the tranquility of her province. Having read about the T'bolis being one of the most peaceful tribes in the Philippines, I never had second thoughts of flying down south. A friend once told me I must have been a T'boli in my past life because of my calm demeanour.

Our first stop was the T'boli School of Indigenous Knowledge and Traditions where we were presented with traditional music and dance by the school children. Their dance I would liken to the quiet wind and gentle sea waves. I wish their school will get more support.
We went to the house of Lang Dulay next, a National Living Treasure awardee. The patterns of the T'nalak come in her dreams and she then directs her team of weavers to weave them. It holds true for the other weaving houses, that is why South Cotabato is called the Land of the Dreamweavers.
We also visited the brass bell makers where everything was made by hand. The metal was melted in wood fire, poured in clay casts and embellished after.
Before calling it a day, our guide brought us to COWHED, the cooperative store that sells rolls of T'nalak, necklaces and trinkets. The ladies had a grand time shopping.

There's so much beauty and joy that I still have to digest from this wonderful experience, I can't wait to go home and sketch.

Our first stop, the T'boli School of Indigenous Knowledge and Traditions.



A T'boli girl showing us the traditional T'boli dance.

One of the two classrooms in the school compound.

Lake Sebu


The house of Lang Dulay.

Abaca thread.

The art of knotting to create patterns on the T'nalak fabric.

A traditional T'boli blouse.

Traditional T'boli bead necklaces.

A photo-op with Lang Dulay, Living Natational Treasure Awardee.

Home of brass bell makers.

The traditional way of melting metal.



COWHED souvenir store.

Coleus grow on the roadsides.

Butter yellow Cosmos with pink edges..

Pink Cosmos.

The Cosmos flower reminds me so much of my childhood.


Wynn Wynn Ong styling T'boli necklaces on Cynthia Almario.

Ivy Almario in T'boli necklaces styled by Wynn Wynn Ong.

I couldn't help but marvel at the beautiful pink skies on our way back to the hotel.
Local flowers make wonderful table arrangements.


It's not everyday you'll eat Halo Halo like this.

Our GKonomics team with Governor Daisy Fuentes (in blue printed t-shirt)
and House Representative Ferdie Hernandez (in striped t-shirt and khaki shorts)

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