Lake Sebu, South Cotabato: The Artists and Artisans of Lake Sebu
The following is a list of interesting people I met during my trip to Lake Sebu – from popular personalities to unsung heroes, craftsmen and performers – and there’s a big chance that you’d probably meet them as well.
Bells, gongs, ornaments, even kris swords, name it. Third generation brass caster Bundos Fara can turn scraps of metal into masterpieces using traditional techniques, a craftsmanship forged by generations of continuous practice and dedication. Most of his works are sold in several souvenir shops in town or you could visit his workshop.
Dreams are not taken lightly in this part of South Cotabato. In fact, dreams are interpreted into an intricately-woven tapestry made from abaca fibers called t’nalak. The meticulous process requires 2 weeks to complete from the harvesting abaca and stripping of fibers until the final stage, the ironing. While Manlilikha Ng Bayan awardee Lang Dulay is a well-known weaver in Lake Sebu, many T’boli women continue to practice the sacred art. Unsurprisingly, Lake Sebu is dubbed “The Land of Dream Weavers”
Mass productivity and economical market price of modern monobloc plastic chairs unseated the classic rattan chair used in parties and events back then. But in Lake Sebu, the rattan furniture-making business still thrives. Making a single chair involves a lot of drying, twisting, heating, bending, cutting, and tying – everything done by hand unlike the factory-made polypropylene chair.
Learn more about the art and culture of Lake Sebu’s indigenous inhabitants in T’boli Museum. Museum caretaker Sindoy Cuyan walks visitors through the vast collection of priceless antiquities ranging from gongs, musical instruments, beadworks, and traditional attires. Someone has to make sure these heritage treasures are kept for future generations, right?
Performance arts are as deeply embedded to T’boli culture as the craftsmanship and visual arts. T’boli performers dedicates time and practice to perfect every graceful stroke of the hand and rhythmic movements of the feet. And “time” means practice begins at an early age and continue into adulthood, maybe for a lifetime. The traditional T’boli dance is an unparalleled commitment, not only to the art, but to a heritage.
I spent a brief moment under the roof of a T’boli musician recognized for his exceptional skill in the two-stringed lute called hegelung, and many other traditional instruments. It was an honor to hear him play and see him perform. His name is Ma Fil Angkoy. The unfortunate news of this great man’s passing (about a month after I met him) broke the hearts of many including mine. Rest in piece, Ma Fil.
Musicians, artists, and craftsmen maybe mortals, but their contributions to the community, to a culture, to the T’boli’s, and the Filipinos are very ingrained that it shines a lifetime.Their songs will be sung, their skills will be passed, their names will be remembered. The T’boli culture and traditions have outlived generations, and I’m positive it will see more.
1.More about Lake Sebu series.
2.More about The 12th Paradise series. Next destinations Lake Sebu, South Cotabato: The Famous Seven Falls’ Zipline
3. More destinations in South Cotabato
4. Like Biyaherong Barat on Facebook.
5. Follow @BiyaherongBarat on Twitter
6. Be safe and happy travels.