15 Reasons Why I Love South Cotabato and its T'nalak festival

The Province of South Cotabato Map

South Cotabato has lots to offer. From  the awesome tourist spots, agricultural products, up to the T'nalak cloth itself. South Cotabato is a showcase of diverse culture living peacefully in the province. Its uniqueness makes it standout among other places in the Philippines. I visit some of its places (if I have time) because it makes you feel connected with nature and at the same time makes you feel proud as a Filipino. And because of this I listed 15 reasons why I love South Cotabato.

15) The improved signal of SUN CELLULAR in South Cotabato.

I am thankful that I am a SUN CELLULAR user. Whenever I visit some places in South Cotabato, I always call or text my friends to tell them how wonderful South Cotabato is. I also call my sister (who is currently in North Cotabato) to update her on my latest tour (and vice versa). I am happy that SUN CELLULAR has a strong signal in South Cotabato. It helps us connect to our friends and loved ones and I am able to promote the province via text, call or internet (if you are using smartphones).

14) The Ilonggo dialect

I have a soft heart with regards to Ilonggo dialect. I don't know why, maybe because Ilonggo people are sweet and loving. Since I have lots of Ilonngo friends in South Cotabato. I get to know more about their dialect and can able  to speak it well (with all fairness). Amo na 'ya!

Yadu Karu and the women in T'boli tribe 
13) Friendly people

Expect a warm welcome if you are a visitor of the province. Their hospitality could never be deny. Since South Cotabato is inhabited with different tribes namely --- the Indigenous people (IPs): B'laan, Kalagan, Ubo, Manobo, Tasaday, and T'boli; The Moro tribe: Maguindanaon (majority) as well as other tribes such as Maranao and Tausog; and the Christians settlers: Ilonggo and Cebuanos --- their heart warming greetings could easily felt once you are honest and sincere to them.

General Santos City Bus terminal 
12) Transportation

I am happy that visiting South Cotabato is as easy as A,B,C (ehehe). This is because of the easy access of transportation. You can choose from Bus (Yellow Bus or Huskie?) to Public Utility Van(s). 

 Photos taken from our educational tour at 7 Falls Lake Sebu (2009)

11) Its beautiful scenery

South Cotabato is blessed with beautiful scenery and natural resources. I am glad that I witness almost all of these gifts. Like the magnificent 7 Falls and the Lake Sebu (literally interpreted as Lake Lake) in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato. These wonderful creations of God have this enigmatic aura that you cannot easily decipher its meaning not until you become a frequent visitor of it. You will appreciate more of it and realize that you have responsibility to take care of these gifts.

10) The fruits and vegetables of Tupi

Whenever I visit Tupi in South Cotabato, I try to find fruits and vegetables that came from Kablon farm. Their fruits and vegetables have this distinct taste that you keep asking for more. The sweet taste and fresh look of their fruits are suit for fruit enthusiasts. While their vegetables have variety of sizes depending on your needs. 

Traditional pottery of T'boli tribe
9) Arts and Culture

The rich and diverse culture of Souh Cotabato makes the province stand out among other places in the Philippines. The mixture of different tribes that harmoniously living in the province creates different things (tangible and intangible) that links to every municipalities of South Cotabato. From music, traditional dresses, customs and traditions, these things contribute to their own culture. Which is important in establishing their identity as Filipinos.

 Lake Sebu in dawn
8) Literature

Since I am a Literature students back in college, I (we) studied some of the province's greatest myths and legends. Like the story of the Lady in the lake in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato. Studying their literature makes you understand more of their culture.

The Hagalog (source)
7) Tribal Music and its Musical instruments

I really like the tribal music produced by tribal people in South Cotabato. It is very authentic and one of a kind. Such as the Hugalog, one of T'boli's musical instruments. It conveys ideas, emotions and feelings. "One good example of the instrument's versatility found in 'Ye Daddang', a tale of a woman hacked to death by a jealous husband where the strings are made to imitate the argument of husband and wife. It ends with plaintive lamentation of the wife's name, 'Ye Daddang, Ye Daddang, Ye Daddang'" (source).

6) Colorful costumes

Even though festivals are common event in the Philippines. I am still get amazed by the colorful costumes displayed at the T'nalak festival. The T'nalak basic color of red, brown, white and black infuse in yellow, orange, violet, blue and the colors of fun and merrymaking. As you watch them perform, you will feel their happiness and enthusiasm.

5) T'nalak cloth

T'nalak cloth is T'boli's sacred cloth, taught by their ancestors in a dream by the goddess Fu Dalu. This weaving tradition is passed thorugh generation to generation and considered as one of their traditional textile. The T'nalak is chosen as the festival icon to symbolize the unity and strong mutual ties of the people living in South Cotabato. Its rarity and exotic designs make you feel proud because of its uniqueness. The next time I will visit the next T'nalak Festival, I will definitely have this one.

4) The cottages of every municipalities of South Cotabato

Beautiful cottages signifies the bountiful municipalities of South Cotabato. One of my favorites is the cottage made by the Municipality of Tupi.

3) Street dancing

I really enjoyed the T'nalak street dancing competition because I felt like I am a journalist covering it. I followed them, taking photos and at the same time jot down notes. You need to be quick in doing it. The adrenaline rush, the sweat, and the crowd makes it exciting and fun. Words are not enough to explain the feeling, better try it next year.

photo by Mimi
2)The Showdown

The twelve participants that came from different schools and municipalities in South Cotabato competed on the Street Dancing and Showdown Competition at South Cotabato Sports Complex in Koronadal City. The competition has three categories: The Madal Me'lan for the highlanders, Kadsagayan A Lalan for the Muslims, and Kasadyahan sa Kapatagan for the lowlanders. I really enjoyed the showdown because of its lively performance and the story behind  it. Despite the rain, the competition still continues.

1) The T'nalak Festival itself

The festival is named after the renowned T'nalak, a cloth meticoulously handwoven by the T'bolis. The three day event held last July 13-18 at Koronadal City, South Cotabato proved another success to the province. In its 13th year, the festival is getting more exciting. With the theme: "South Cotabato: Making a difference, Amo na 'Ya!", it showcased the province's bounty and culture, commemorated its 46th Founding anniversary. It is no wonder that a lot of tourists (local & foreign) visited this year's T'nalak festival.

My T'nalak experience would never be the same again. Since it was my first time to attend the festival, I felt like a journalist documenting the event. I really enjoyed it because you appreciate the beauty of the province. I am proud in this kind of event because it keeps us united in one common goal, which is to live harmoniously in the island of Mindanao. It makes you appreciate more of its rich and diverse culture and it helps to widen your perspective in life.

I am looking forward for another T'nalak festival next year. I am sure it will be more exciting and fun to attend. There is a big difference between second hand experience and first hand experience. Better experience it for yourself rather than listen to your friends who enjoyed the event. I am thankful that Nardz (southcotabatonews.com) invited me to visit this event. I could really conclude that It is More Fun in South Cotabato.

“This is my submission for the T'nalak Festival 2012 Blog Writing Contest, which is made possible with the support of sponsors such as Hon. Governor Arthur Y. Pingoy, Jr and the province of South CotabatoSun Cellular - get two days of unlimited text to all networks for only ₱15 with SUN TEXTALL15Dole PhilippinesRepresentative Teddy Casiño & Bayan Muna Party-List,  KCC MallsSouthCotabato.Org and South Cotabato News.”

UPDATE: (09-08-12) F.T.S.! LOL!