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South Cotabato’s T’nalak Festival | A Photo Essay

The T’nalak Festival defines your whole visit to South Cotabato that marked its existence as one of the major festivities to look after in the Philippines.  The week-long celebration starts in the second week of July where spectators and foreign guests can explore the rich indigenous culture and traditions of the province. You can visit various municipalities and cities that showcase their local produce and handmade indigenous crafts.

On the 4th day of our visit that landed on the 18th of July, the much awaited T’nalak Festival Parade and Anniversary Program was held at the streets of Koronadal. Visitors from different walks of life were astonished with the colorful and vibrant street dancing. This festival is the celebration of the interfaith of the province showcasing the peaceful co-existence among different religions and traditions that includes the Muslims, Christians and the Tribes.

T’nalak is the famous hemp fabric uniquely crafted and weaved by the selected women of T’boli. And since most of the designs originated from a dream, a gift by the spirit of hemp (abaka), the women were identified as ‘dream weavers’.

The grand celebration surpassed my expectation as I could find my feet stumping on the solid ground with the irresistible beating of the drums. The vibrant music cheered by participants made the festivity even more welcoming for all those who see it, crossing the street and swaying to the pulsating rhythm of the bass beat.

You could catch as well the pride and proud faces of the dancers with their colourful costumes representing the origin of each municipality or tribe. Even with the punishing heat of the sun on a high noon, the parade did not tarnish a bit and even developed  into a ground breaking uproar as the contenders revealed some of their mind stirring routines that could simply unearth the most hidden admiration  you have reserved in your life.

Witnessing it personally would elevate your respect and love for the people of Mindanao and surely the nirvana on the truth about the peace and beauty and wonders will unfold by itself through the found joy and merriment on the street. 

The street dancing, just like any other festivities in the Philippines, ended with the dance routine presentation and competition in front of Koronadal's huge grandstand. Each contenders hit the beat of the drums with even more vibrant routines with soulful interpretation of their origins while flaunting the pride produce of their town or tribe.

There were always 3 winners announced in the end of the program, one each from the Muslim groups, Christian groups and the Tribal groups. This was decided by the province as each category presents different style of taste in performances. In a way, it was a good practice to create a better harmony  and peace among the contenders, representing the different cultures and religion in South Cotabato.

T'nalak Festival is a sure soul surrender if you wish to witness an authentic and peaceful street dancing and presentations with a little of "wild" night victory party along the street of the Capitol.

Here is the sample video of the Tribal Performance

Our deepest thanks to the Province of South Cotabato, headed by Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes together with her staff  for the warm welcome. Endless thanks is given as well to AVLDA-LED for inviting us and making the Allah Valley Familiarization Tour possible.

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