|A festive welcome of T’boli dance and music at Lemsnolon village in T’boli, South Cotabato|
Before climbing Mt. Melibingoy and Lake Holon, we dropped by the T’boli village of Lemsnolon where the Ehek Lemsnolon Community Group demonstrated hand-loom weaving and showcased their meticulously handcrafted beaded jewelry. They also sell books and pamphlets on T’boli literature and culture, including the Holy Bible in T’boli. I purchased a softbound book on T’boli musical instruments and bought several copies of a storybook on T’boli folklore for the T’boli School of Living Traditions (SLT) I helped rebuild in Lake Sebu.
|A T’boli woman in intricately designed traditional dress|
In a nearby building, a traditional welcome of indigenous dance and music entertained us. The villagers served a filling merienda of sweet potato, corn and rice cake, while women in traditional garb danced to the beat of t’nonggong (deerskin drum) and kulintang (brass gongs). They gracefully shuffled their feet and swirled to the music, cradling the malongs secured around their necks.
|Traditional loom weaving at Lemsnolon village in T’boli, South Cotabato|
Despite being named after the indigenous tribe, the town of T’boli doesn’t get as much recognition as Lake Sebu as a cultural watershed of T’boli culture. Nonetheless, a visit to this nondescript village provides a less touristy immersion with one of Mindanao’s culturally eminent lumads or indigenous peoples. As with most indigenous cultural villages, I recommend arranging homestay accommodation with the municipal tourism office for a deeper experience and understanding of the T’boli. Lemsnolon definitely offers a very fascinating and insightful detour, when one climbs Mt. Melibingoy and Lake Holon, which are sacred places of the T’boli people.
|Allah Valley Tour 2013 travel bloggers with Ehek Lemsnolon Community Group|
HOW TO GET THERE: The town of T’boli can be reached from General Santos City via Koronadal City and Surallah. Habal-habal or skylabs (modified motorcycles) provides the most convenient means of transport within the municipality. For more information on Lemsnolon village, contact municipal tourism officer Mr. Bary Lugan at +63 9067943210 or +63 83 2371014.
This familiarization tour around Region XII was made possible by the Allah Valley Landscape Development Alliance (AVLDA).