The Dreamweaver

T'boli weaver by Jojie Alcantara
T'boli weaver by Jojie Alcantara

In this weaving house built for them, the gentle and colorful T’boli (ti bo lee) women weave the most sought after beautiful t’nalak (woven abaca fibers in radiant colors). The cloth, culled from tie-dyed abaca fibers of distinct red and black tones, originates from the roots and leaves of trees. Then comes the arduous process of days to weeks of stripping, boiling, soaking, drying, rubbing with wax and shells to produce the final fabric of such intense, lasting colors.

T'nalak cloth by Jojie Alcantara
T'nalak cloth by Jojie Alcantara

They are called dreamweavers because this ethnic ritual is based on tribal designs that were produced from a dream (but not all are gifted with the vision). Such unique patterns are passed on protectively from mothers to daughters in a sacred tradition and commitment to their ancestral heritage. In the course of history, contemporary patterns have surfaced, anointed with new names, tapestries evolve and modernize, yet the meticulous artistry and quality of craftsmanship never waver. In Lake Sebu, stores selling ethnic products with t’nalaks line the streets.

HOW TO GET THERE: General Santos City is the gateway to Lake Sebu, South Cotabato.  From Davao City, it is a 2-hour ride to General Santos City, another hour to Koronadal City (formerly Marbel), then an hour up to the highlands of cool Lake Sebu, South Cotabato on smooth roads.

This photo was recently published in the LAST FRAME section of Mabuhay Magazine (March issue) of Philippine Airlines.

Mabuhay Magazine March 2012
Mabuhay Magazine March 2012 (click to large file)
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