Our team from the Northern Cultural Communities of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) had an out of region meeting last July. We decided to visit South Cotabato because of the T’nalak Festival celebrated slated on the same month.
Upon arrival at the airport in General Santos City, we all went straight to Lake Sebu and visited the Gawad sa Manlilikha ng Bayan (GAMABA) Awardee or National Living Treasure Lang Dulay of the T’boli group.
Lang Dulay is a traditional artist. She is popularly known as traditional weaver of t’nalak, an indigenous textile or cloth from South Cotabato. It’s a textile made from fine abaca fiber. She and her staff at the weaving center demonstrated some of the tedious process of weaving tnalak. They explained to us that they start with stripping of the abaca stem to produce the fibers then they have to dry the threads and tie each strand by hand. The tying of the fibers helps define the design during the dying stage.
Some of the Tboli ladies have shown us how they do the back strap loom weaving. It is a difficult work because it strains the weaver’s back and eyes. They are required also to help in the farm after weaving. Lang Dulay makes various designs that include clouds, hair bangs, butterfly and others. Although she cannot expressed herself in the Tagalog dialect she explained to me one of the design she made during our visit. This Tboli textile is being bartered for horses in the 1960s and the Sta Cruz Mission encouraged the community to weave. Because of the excellence of Lang on the tnalak craft she was given the GAMABA award in 1998.