Wednesday, January 12, 2011

An enlightening encounter with a T'boli family in Lake Sebu

Our very kind and friendly T'boli hosts treated us like family.
The T'bolis are said to be the most hospitable people. We agree! This after a T'boli family in Lake Sebu town invited us into their household, brewed coffee for us, prepared nganga chewables for those who'd like to give it a try, played T'boli music from their bamboo 'guitar', and, over cup of coffee, regaled us with family and tribal stories--all in response to a simple request for permission to take pictures of their house.
Front view of the house:  stairs, door and living room window.
It's the T'boli house architecture that got us to stop over for photographs after ziplining and hiking to the seven waterfalls in Lake Sebu, surveying the rim of the remaining virgin forest in the area, and dipping in the clear waters of a river down there.

Support for the retractable windows (bedroom window, left).
We thought the architecture best fits a beach house. We own one in Zambales, and just in case someone is interested to put up another one beside ours, we'd strongly suggest to follow the T'boli house design.
A view of the virgin forest through the wide living room window.

Bed room window. No beds but mats. Storage racks above.
It's the windows that we found interesting. They are pulled down to rest on support posts during the day to let in the fresh air esp. in the summer, and pulled up at night or during rainy days. The wide windows provide an exhilarating view of the greenery all around.

T'boli family and guests sit comfortably on the floor.
The house has only two areas:  the bedroom and the living-dining-kitchen room.  There are no furniture, not even a dining table. Family and guests sit on mats or on the floor of bamboo slats. 

Common rocks stove, overhead storage rack and golden roof.
The kitchen is right there consisting of the usual trio of rocks to support the cooking pot, a storage rack above it where the dry corn are hang and woven bamboo bins are kept.  The roof above the living room has acquired a golden/copper patina after the smoking it got for a long time. 

Music making and pounding rice, T'boli way.
In this setting did our hosts entertain us. We sat around the living room sipping newly brewed coffee from tin cups while the T'boli Old Woman strummed her bamboo guitar, the T'boli Old Man prepared the betel nut chewable, answering our sundry questions on things T'boli .  

Later, the nursing woman narrated her love story when we asked who among the menfolk in the house is her child's father. She simply said, "I gave her away to the another woman from another tribe."  What did she mean? "I love him so much that I let him go and marry her ...  or he will be killed for raping that woman. That's our custom."

She sacrificed her love, she emphasized, so that his son would still have a father as he grows up. But for the man to be free and be spared the harsh punishment, tradition dictates that, first, he had to return his wife to her family with a fine of three horses; and second, he had to go through the same ritual as in his previous marriage--offer a dowry of five horses and seek approval of the other woman's family. 

Of course, the T'boli we met no longer wear their traditional dresses. Their elaborate beaded and colorful costumes  they now wear only during special occasions. The household we visited may not be rich since we did not see any of those brass decorative sculptures, which possibly are now being produced for the tourist market.

In the afternoon, we visited the T'boli museum and the souvenir shop for our fill of T'boli art, which can be seen in their tinalak of various dream weave patterns, brass sculptures, heavy and elaborate royalty belts, women blouses in black and embroidered with intricate patterns using colored beads, and of course, the necklaces and bracelets of stringed colored beads.

The museum and the shop were designed like the typical T'boli house--low and with retractable wide windows.

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