The T’boli tribe must have a fixation for dreams.
In Lake Sebu, South Cotabato, the T’boli women who weave the famous t’nalak cloth are able to create the colorful designs after a trip to neverland, earning them the moniker, dreamweavers. Not very far from home, in Barangay Badtasan, Kiamba, Sarangani Province, there is a woman whose dance routines were born out of a dream, where she had a conversation with one of the tribe’s ancestors who taught her a dance — a dance she gladly performs for visitors.
Lyn Lambago, 35, has a vision for her fellow T’bolis in Badtasan. In 2007, she gathered the young children in her community, taught them traditional T’boli dances, and formed what is now known as the Lemuhen Cultural Dance Troupe. Seven years after, with the help of the local government and foreign donors, the School of Living Traditions, the first for T’bolis in Sarangani, was established.
I was lucky to have visited Badtasan and experienced being with the local community. Badtasan is about an hour and a half away from General Santos City.
We were welcomed by a traditional meal upon our arrival in the community. The meal was composed of boiled rice wrapped in gabi leaves, boiled ube (purple yam) and sweet potato, cassava suman, and the star of the banquet, nelut onuk, spiced chicken meat stuffed inside a bamboo stalk and cooked over fire for two hours.
After the sumptuous breakfast, the Lemuhen Cultural Dance Troupe started the feast for the eyes, ears, and soul. They showcased various dances such as the T’boli courtship dance, war dance, witch dance, and the comic monkey dance.
The finale was Lyn Lambago’s dance, which came from a dream. As I watched, I felt a different kind of emotion. I was overwhelmed by the sound of the gong, kulintang, t’boli drums, and bamboo, and the quick mincing steps and hand movements of Lyn’s dance.
Here is a video I took of her dance:
We also went up the T’boli house that was built as a learning center for the T’boli culture. Inside the house that was built on stilts were pieces of memorabilia of the Lemuhen Dance Troupe including their costumes and musical instruments.
While we were looking around, Lyn Lambago recounted the very reason why she founded Lemuhen — preservation. She took it as a mission to work for the preservation of the T’boli cultural heritage in Badtasan.
Here’s a touching video about the efforts of Lyn Lambago in saving the traditions of her tribe:
What is good about the T’boli’s fondness for dreams is that theirs do not remain only as dreams, they turn them into colorful fabric, and in the case of Lyn Lambago in Badtasan, she turned hers into a dance and she looks forward to seeing her whole community dancing with her.
If you wish to visit the Lemuhen Cultural Dance Troupe in Badtasan, you may contact Go Sarangani Travel and they can arrange a trip for you.