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sT'nalak Festival, South Cotabato, Philippines

I. History & Background

South Cotabato has been a province for decades, but has not had a proper reason to celebrate its founding
anniversary. That all changed in 1998, when former President Fidel V. Ramos declared the late Lang Dulay from Lake
Sebu as a National Living Treasure for her work as a T’nalak weaver. 1999 saw the T’nalak Festival take the form we
know of today: a celebration of South Cotabato’s founding anniversary and its way of honoring the cultural heritage
brought about by its cultural emblem, the T’nalak.
The T'nalak Festival is named after a woven cloth created and woven by the women of the province's T'boli tribe,
T'nalak is an indigenous team for a colorful way of weaving the abaca cloth. T’Nalak symbolizes the culture, tradition and
art of the people of South Cotabato. Each fiber of the abaca represents its diversity and yet when woven, becomes a
beautiful tapestry.
II. Symbolism & Celebration
T’nalak being the province’s cultural emblem symbolizes the blending of culture, strength and unity not only of
T’boli people but of various ethnic groups living in the province. It is during this festive celebration of T’nalak Festival that
people of South Cotabato showcase their vibrant cultures and venerable traditions through dazzling cultural performances
and pulsating street dancing.
The T'nalak festival is celebrated during the foundation anniversary of the province of South Cotabato, and is held
in the month of July in the provincial capital of Koronadal City. The T’nalak Festival is seen as an overload for the senses.
It follows the trend of having colorful and vibrant festivals seen all over the country, all while having its own identity.
Koronadal City is the setting for the festival. Two of the most anticipated events are the Tri-People Grand Parade and the
Street Dancing Showdown, held during the last day of the festival. There’s also a Bahay Kubo Competition, where groups
pit themselves against each other in decorating the traditional home of Filipinos.
III. Cultural Significance
T’nalak’s significance to the South Cotabato’s culture has earned its place as the cultural emblem of the
province. This unique tradition of woven dreams has put South Cotabato in the world map of traditional tapestry making
and has earned them the title “Land of the Dream Weavers”. Thus, the annual celebration of T’nalak Festival displays
the importance of the T’nalak cloth as part of the cultural image of South Cotabato amidst the dual presence of tradition
and progress. T’nalak Festival will pay the tribute to South Cotabato’s artistic, cultural and historical heritage.
IV. Reflection
Living in a country where colorful fiestas and grandiose festivals are reveled all year round, witnessing a convergence
of indigenous colors depicting rich culture and living tradition is such a rare experience. Seeing it right at the very heart of
the province where the value for culture and the arts is highly regarded, this kind of festival is a feast for the eyes. This is
the T’nalak Festival of South Cotabato, the most celebrated festivity in South Central Mindanao. T’nalak Festival is the
province’s annual celebration showcasing the significance of T’nalak cloth as the cultural icon of South Cotabato. An
intricately woven tapestry of intense and striking colors, T’nalak is dreamt to life by the T’boli weavers who translate their
dreams into intricate geometric patterns of tie-dyed abaca fibers.

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