Project Breaking Down Barriers: Arts and Crafts with our T’Boli Hosts

The following day, Tara and I woke up at around 6:30 AM.  Everyone was already up and about by this time.  I even heard someone cutting wood.  So, after breakfast, I went down to see who it was.  Then, I formally met Dondon and Jayjay.  Jayjay is a son of Manang Oyog and Dondon is related to them in some way.  Dondon is in college, taking up education.  Jayjay stopped schooling but will return this coming school year and take up electronics.  They are both 19 years old.

Jayjay and Dondon

Saturdays and Sundays are when kids from all around Lake Sebu would go to School of Living Traditions to learn about T’boli traditions and art.  We were looking forward to this, since the trip was about exploring the art and culture of our indigenous peoples communities.  But, there were only three (3) kids who came by.  We later on found out that, because Manang Oyog had to be in General Santos for a performance, the other kids thought that no class would be held on that Saturday.

It was a bit disappointing but not really.  We spent the day resting, goofing around, and playing Doctor Quack Quack and shaggidy-shaggidy-sha-popo with the kids. It was like going back to my childhood!


Kulitan with the kids of School of Living Traditions

Doctor Quack Quack

We also shared with them our experiences in Northern Luzon and our stories about the people we met and the places we’d been to, so far.  Tara, being of native American descent, also shared with the teachers and the dream weavers how they work beads in their tribe, the Ojibwe tribe.  She also showed some videos of their dances and their traditional clothes.  It was so great witnessing the merging of cultures, especially from my point of view. We are learning a lot about them and they are learning about the culture from the other end of the Philippines, through our stories, and from another part of the world, through Tara.

Tara sharing how they do it in Ojibwe Tribe

Tara sharing dances of the Ojibwe Tribe

Tara sharing with T'boli kids videos from Kalinga

And from me, who doesn’t know the tribe she belongs to, they learned how to operate a DSLR camera.  I found it fulfilling that I got to share with them something that I love, which is taking pictures and capturing the moment.

Photo taken by Rhea

Photo taken by Dogdog

Photo taken by Andi

We also did an interview with the dream weavers, Manang Barbara and Manang Oyel.  Manang Barbara is one of the more famous dream weavers in Lake Sebu.  She is training Manang Oyel, her niece, who is also her partner in making the tinalak.

Manang Barbara, the Dreamweaver

tinalak is a cloth woven using abaca fibers, in their original color or dyed red or black.  It is believed that the patterns must be created in the dreams of the weavers before it is actually woven.  So, ladies who weave tinalak, such as Manang Barbara and Manang Oyel, are called “dream weavers” and their creations are sometimes referred to as “weaved dreams”.

Manang Barbara and Manang Oyel, the Dreamweavers


Tara and I had the opportunity to watch them do the actual weaving.  Manang Barbara explained that they work on the tinalak only when it’s cold because abaca fibers tend to break when it’s warmer.  It takes them about six months to complete an entire pattern and they only sell it for Php 800.00 per yard.  To me, that’s super cheap, considering the time and effort that they put into it.

Manang Barbara, the Dreamweaver, in action

Later in the afternoon, a T’boli lola dropped by selling accessories that she made. I bought some as pasalubong for my family and relatives. Then, I found out that Tamtam, Andi, and Rhea also make bracelets that they sell. They were nice so I bought from them as well. Rhea was very adorable and said, “Thank you, Ate, ha…” several times. I got her gratitude.

T'boli lady and apo

Tamtam, Andi, and Rhea each gave me a bracelet, which I did not remove for the duration of the trip. I was touched by this gesture, the same way as I felt when our hosts in Tinglayan gave us their gifts. Someone said that, in indigenous peoples communities, this gesture meant that the outsider has impacted the community in one way or another and that the community now considers the outsider as one of them. That made my soul smile. Again.

Because Tara and I had very late lunch, we didn’t get hungry until around 8:30 PM.  By that time, Greenbox had already closed down.  So, we were kind of prepared to just sleep it off.  Great thing that we made a real good connection with the kids that Andi, I think, told her mother that we had not yet eaten dinner, so the family fed us.  That was sweet.

After dinner, the kids played the drums, sang, and danced for us.  Andi and Tamtam performed the Dance with Eyes, or Madal Mit Mata.  Dogdog took the lead in the Monkey Dance, or Madal Ewas.  Rhea and Tamtam showed us how to do the Bird Dance, or Madal Tahaw.  And, Dondon performed the Warrior Dance, or Madal Soyow.  It was such a privilege being in the presence of these talented kids.

Liked what you read?  Share the love!  Follow See ya, Monica on social media to get updates on my recent travels, with tips and a lot of shares on what I got during my trips.  Plus, some barely edited photos to give you the most authentic feel of the place. (I do not know how to use Photoshop, and what I can only do are cropping, adjusting brightness and colors the way I remember it):


Thank you! And, in whatever space you’re in now, I hope that you get something from reading my articles.

See ya,

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