Saturday, December 1, 2012

T'nalak Festival of South Cotabato

We conducted the second part of our NCCA regular committee meeting on the same day of the T’nalak Festival in Koronadal City on July 18. While discussing matters at the meeting, we heard of the beat of drums and music in the street and so we took a break to see and enjoy the sights and sound. 

It was actually the street pageantry where the different groups of people particularly the different ethnic groups parade on the streets where they showcase their lovely traditional costumes costum-made for them with t’nalak material or with a touch of it. 

T’nalak is a hand-woven textile made from the abaca plant. It is the T’bolis traditional tapestry. T’bolis are indigenous people inhabiting in the province of South Cotabato in Mindanao. They do put on artistic designs on the traditional cloth which they get sometimes from the dreams of the old women weavers. They call them dreamweavers. The weavers work without preliminary designs but most patterns are handed down to them. This textile is a product of tedious and hardwork by the weavers where a meter of it takes about months to finish. Tinalak does not only serve as a decorative material but it expresses the warm welcome and honour to guests. The cloth also signifies the status of the owner. 

In producing this indigenous cloth, vegetable dyes and pigments from roots and bark of tree are used to give color to it. It requires good skill in weaving techniques because of the complex patterns that are designed in the t’nalak. 

While celebrating the Tinalak as being worn by the dancers and muses, they showcased skillful dance steps in the street. Lucky to have the free time in the afternoon to watch the dance showdown. There are different categories namely Madal Be’Lan for T’boli streetdancing, Kasagayan a Lalan for Muslim streetdancing, and Kasadyahan sa Kapatagan for Christian streetdancing. 

I was able to get up close to them because we were given complimentary tickets to the show to get in. I had the chance to meet and talk to Governor Arthur Pingoy, Jr and Vice Governor Tolosa. The festival queens of the different groups were presented. The dances depicted some of the different rituals, beliefs, traditions and occupations of the people in South Cotabato and waves the tinalak as they portray the process of making it. 

There was a downpour in the middle of the showdown but it did not dampen the mood of the people. The show must go on as they said. It was a spectacular festival centering on the tnalak and at the grand finale all of the groups were assembled and they dance while the announcement of winners were made. 

We took our dinner at the place of former NCCA commissioner Carlo Ebeo who served us pochero, inubarang manok, wild fern, kilawing isda and bamboo shoot salad. We got refreshed taking pure fruit juices. At nighttime, we were able to see of the best decorated houses. All are nipa huts decoratedwith indigenous materials. Fruits, vegetables, flowers and plants adored the houses. My group capped our day with a dose of durian. Truly a great treat for us cultural workers.

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