Let’s Help Rebuild a T’boli School in Lake Sebu!

T’boli homestay with cultural worker Maria Todi-Arroz and her daughter, last September 2011
Maria’s tribal house, photographed last September 2011, serves as a School for Living Traditions (SLT)

During my visit to Lake Sebu, South Cotabato last September, I stayed in a traditional T’boli house located in Barangay Lambanig that also served as a School for Living Traditions (SLT), run by T’boli cultural worker Oyog “Maria” Todi-Arroz. Since 1994, Maria – or Ate Mayang, as she is fondly called – has established non-profit organizations that promote T’boli arts and culture through the Helubong Cultural Dance Troupe, and uplift the education and livelihood of indigenous peoples through the Kesetifun Cultural Care Foundation.

Sadly, after heavy rainfall last May, the traditional house collapsed completely due to weak foundations. Maria is now soliciting help to rebuild a sturdier longhouse, which will serve not only as a learning center for T’boli youth, but also a tribal homestay for visitors who want a culturally enriching stay in Lake Sebu. While not as durable as modern construction materials, the new school still has to be built in indigenous materials like wood and bamboo because it will also serve to showcase T’boli architecture quickly vanishing elsewhere in Lake Sebu. To preserve the house, the stilts will now be set on concrete foundations.  According to Maria, at least PHP 125,000 (around USD 3,000) must be raised to rebuild the school. 

This is the message she emailed last June 8, together with some snapshots of the collapsed hut:

Dear Alan,

I am sending you a photo of a collapsed Tboli house used to be our SLT learning center and where we accommodate guests for community immersions,.  Just imagine how it looks when you stay there , and now… the area is empty except of only ruin bamboo and rotten cogon roof.  There you see our Tboli kids suppose to  stay inside the house but they just sit down on the ground playing and wondering.
I hope somebody will be extending there hand to us and we will recognized there sponsorship.. God will return to them hundred and fold.

Maraming Salamat sa lahat.
Maria ” Oyog” Todi

Due to weak foundations, the tribal house completely collapsed after heavy rainfall last May 2012.
Photos by Maria Todi-Arroz

Let’s help rebuild this T’boli school in any way you can! Please share this blog post with your family and friends. For those who want to immediately extend financial aid, I will start accepting donations of any amount on Maria’s behalf. Your donation can be deposited to the following bank or Paypal accounts: 

Deposit your donation at:

Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) 
Account No. 0473078341

or Donate via PayPal:

For transparency, after donating, please scan your deposit slip, and upload it to this Facebook album. Please confirm your donations by contacting me at eazy@eazytraveler or +63 9205601502. Suggestions on other ways we can raise funds for this project are most welcome. Let’s make this happen!

Photographs by Gael Hilotin of www.thepinaysolobackpacker.com

An Australian CouchSurfing friend has donated his time and talent to create a fundraising website for the T’boli school project, where visitors can donate online and monitor the money raised! Please visit and share the website, www.lakesebuschool.com

7 Replies to “Let’s Help Rebuild a T’boli School in Lake Sebu!”

  1. Heartbreaking 🙁 Definitely lending a hand. No BPI though in our rural town, but will deposit when I’m in the city. And hopefully, I get to see the newly rebuilt school someday when I visit the province.

    • Hi Gay, thank you very much for your pledge! Hope we can raise enough money right away, so we can see the rebuilt school soonest. Staying in a T’boli homestay makes a visit to Lake Sebu more rewarding =)

  2. kikay says:

    I will help. Someday I will visit Lake Sebu. 🙂

  3. As of July 2 – 11:16 AM, $140 has been donated for this project! Thanks to those who immediately extended assistance. Hope this will get the ball rolling!

  4. will drop by BPI later Ed. Hurray for this initiative.

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