Sunday, November 9, 2014

Lake Sebu, South Cotabato

Related post: T'nalak - T'boli's Weave of Dreams

I've been postponing Mindanao trips due to the stigma brought about by news on terror group or armed rebels'  activities in many parts of this southern archipelago.  Lately, I've been seeing travel posts and magazine articles on Lake Sebu - and since I was planning a Bukidnon climb trip, I thought - why not a side trip.  Few checks and googling and I quickly felt comfortable about security and safety of South Cotabato (but I was warned about relative stability issue to the North).

the calm Lake Sebu (one of the 3 lakes here), with hundreds of Tilapia fishpens. Each resort-restaurant would have more than 10 Tilapia dishes in their menu
Lake Sebu is the home of the T'bolis,  an enchanting tribe in the south where traces of their art and heritage still exist today.  The famed abaca textile called T'nalak is mostly made here, as well as brass artwork, tiny glass bead-made necklaces, hand-woven fabric such as Tubao and malong, as well as cultural treasures like dancing, rituals or ceremonies. 

From CDO (my end-point of the climb trip), I hopped on a plane bound for Davao.  There's currently no direct flight from CDO to General Santos City - the usual gateway to Lake Sebu.  Coming from Manila, that would be possible.
From Gensan, it's an easy and short ride to Koronadal (aka Marbel), maybe 1hr or less.  I took the Yellow Bus Line (it seems well established), and at Marbel bus terminal, the van /shuttle terminal called 'Denmark' is just a mere 100m walk.  Van takes passengers either directly to Lake Sebu terminal, or to Surallah (w/c will require another ride).  From "LS" terminal, one needs to ride a motorcycle called 'habal-habal', I paid 20php for a ride to Punta Isla Resort.

Here's more picture-story of my 2-day trip...
no.2 falls of the 'Seven Falls', the largest of the 7.  This is just below #1, a bit of walk to see the falls' head, or by habal-habal to get to this picture-spot.  Falls are natural connections and drains of the lakes around Lake Sebu

Falls no.1.  Still big but smaller than no2.  Other falls are located far and away and are not normally visited.

T'boli coffee - just to complete the experience...

entrance to Punta Isla resort, one of the more known but old resorts in town.  I got single rooms for 800php/night.  Expect natural creature sound during the night, like camping in a nearby forest or lake.

at Isla's restaurant waiting for my Tilapia meal...

Another view of the lake from a floating restaurant in a nearby resort

T'boli dance - performers in their traditional outfit

Ahhh... chicharong Tilapia, and buco-pandan (without milk) drink to complement it

Inside a small museum in town... They also sell few items, I bought a few beaded necklace (also to help the local artisans)
Visiting Lang Dulay's T'nalak weaving center, here posing with her 2 T'boli students with my newly bought T'nalak.  Lang Dulay is a national artist, one of the well-known 'dream weavers'.  Bought this 2.5m length for 1200 (500php/meter), seems expensive but imagine the 3month effort to put this together - a true bargain.  Once in Manila, this price is probably  doubled, value maybe 10x more after 5+ years ;), buying (i.e. demand) will keep the tradition alive and will help preserve Philippine traditional weaving art of the T'bolis.

T'boli traditional long house, no rooms, windows opened like a bridge-gate, elevated

T'boli women harvesting shellfish from the river
At COWHED (cooperative store), here, beads artwork - you'll never run out of options...

brass work... casted then decorations are hand-made. bought a few pieces and several small spherical brass bells

Embroidery is another specialty of the T'boli artisans...

more T'nalaks in bag form... these are mostly fresh and non-traditional (except the diamond /red patterns).  I always wondered why most bags are made for women, the very few made-for-men were not my type so I thought of customizing one for myself :)  "corporate and tribal" themed perhaps ;)

The entrance to the COWHED, one should visit the place to buy souvenirs, to help local artisans and preserve T'boli's culture and heritage.  Plus it's cheap to buy here... (this place is a few hundred meters from Punta Isla).

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