Souvenir Shopping: Lake Sebu

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Lake Sebu in South Cotabato is home to rich cultural traditions and natural wonders. It is also home to indigenous tribes including the T’bolis, who are well-known for their traditional skills in handicrafts and weaving. Here are five must-buy items in Lake Sebu.

1. T’nalak
T’nalak is the indigenous fabric woven from abaca threads by T’boli dreamweavers. The intricate cloth in red, black, and white symbolizes the culture, strength, and unity of the ethnic groups. The cloth is now fashioned into items like bags, wallets, key chains, hats, place mats, table runners, and refrigerator magnets for tourists.

2. Beadwork
Jewelry making is one of the traditional arts passed down from mothers to daughters. Colorful necklaces, dangling earrings, and keychains made from beads make popular souvenirs for visitors.

3. Embroidery
Traditional T’boli clothing uses cross-stitch based designs, in threads of white, green, yellow, and red on black cloth. T’boli embroidery is also now being used in a variety of non-clothing designs, such as bags, table runners, table napkins, and scarves showcasing the excellent crafstsmanship.

4. Wood carvings
The T’bolis use their woodcrafting skills to hand-carve soft wood for decorations and tokens. You can buy tiny models of boats, fish, wood figurines, pencil holders, decorative boxes, and models of musical instruments including kulintang gongs and hegalong, the traditional two-stringed T’boli guitar.

5. Brass work
The T’bolis are masters in brass casting, using small homemade furnace brass casters, to produce brass pieces. Brass bells, jewelry boxes, bracelets, and other decorative items are just a few of the products that you can buy.

By taking home these souvenirs crafted by the indigenous T’boli tribe as souvenirs, you can take home a piece of culture, while helping uplift the lives of the community.

Text and photos by Kara Santos

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