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This blog is an amateur photographer's attempt to show how beautiful the world really is. He is drawn to the colors of nature like a moth to a candle light. What are showcased here are nature's grand display of colors at sunrise and sunset, beautiful beaches and off-the-beaten track locations in his beloved Philippines, waterfalls and some of nature's great sculptures, architectural gems, and other views from around SE Asia that he was fortunate to see at one point.

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April 28, 2009

lake sebu: t'boli homestay

T'boli House
T'boli house on top of a hill

A great way to enhance your Lake Sebu experience would be to skip the lake resorts and stay with one of the locals. An even better way would be to stay with a T'boli family.

I had the chance to visit one such home for lunch last time I was in Lake Sebu. We've worked up an appetite after a scenic dawn in Lake Seloton and an early morning visit to the 7 Falls, practically made a beeline to the house when our friend called that lunch was ready.

The house, made of bamboo floor and walls and cogon grass roof, is nestled on top of a hill over looking the eastern side of the lake. The interior is modest - spartan to be precise. There are no furnitures - typical of such house, but everything is squeaky clean. I love the feel of smooth bamboo floor on my bare feet. Since the floor is elevated several feet from the ground, the house is well ventilated with cool mountain air.

Inside a Traditional T'boli Home
spartan interior

Our lunch consist of broiled fresh tilapia and "paksiw na tilapia" (simmered in vinegar with a lot of spices: garlic, onions, ginger, peppers, etc). Its a deceivingly simple yet overly delightful fare, perfect if you do away with your spoon and fork and eat with your hands.

Simple Lunch
broiled fresh tilapia

On one corner of the house near a window huddle a group of T'boli women busily doing beads and other tribal handicrafts. The beads and brassworks are an integral part of a T'boli dress. Girls are taught the craft at a young age, the patterns and designs are often handed down through the generations.

T'boli Tribal Handicraft
sewing a tribal jacket

Visitors can try their hands on activities like these. My wife was able to make a couple of earrings which she happily wore the rest of the day.

T'boli Beads Handicraft
T'boli lasses doing beads handicraft

If you are staying here overnight, you can arrange for a cultural presentation (tribal dances and songs as well as storytelling) after dinner.

About the T'bolis
The T'boli are indigenous people of Southern Mindanao, particularly the Allah Valley region and some of the coastal towns west of General Santos City. The town of Lake Sebu is one of their ancestral domains.

traditional T'boli garb

They are basically a hill tribe, preferring the mountainous area of Allah Valley. Their culture is rich in literature, art, and music. Their brass works and tinalak/t'nalak (cloth woven from dyed abacca fiber, with geometric patterns said to be from the dreams of the weavers) are a constant source of pride for people of Mindanao.

Contact info
You may arrange homestay accommodation with Maria "Mayang" Todi (0918-767-1063). Although there are also other locals who offer homestay accommodations in Lake Sebu, Mayang is one of the few T'bolis who offers her home to visitors (most of her guests are foreigners). She charges Php 70.00 (USD 1.50) / pax for an overnight stay. Its advisable to bring a sleeping bag as it can get very cold at night.

Check this out if you want stay with an Ubo family, have a great overlooking view of the lake, and enjoy a cultural performance from one of Lake Sebu's great artists:  
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escape said...

the lake was already appealing but looking at the houses and the culture thru these photos bai, i think i should prioritize this trip.

yan ang mga trip kong tirhan. wlaang foam at ramdam ang kultura.

asteeg post!

Reena said...

the photos won't upload. :( low tech na ba pc ko? hehe..i'll be back when everything's okay na.

sheng said...

Oh, i'll get her number so we could have a place to stay there when we decide to go, come june i guess, when dong comes over.

lagal[og] said...

bai, thanks for the info. will keep this in mind next time magawi sa lake sebu

Reena said...

i'm enjoying this entire post.

i especially like the house. they have their own version of bahay kubo. and the details you said about the ventilation, it clearly speaks of tropical/philippine architecture at its best.

Ishmael F. Ahab said...

Hmmm...minsan mas maganda pa ang matulag sa bamboo floor kasi presko ang hinihigaan mo, ti tulad ng foam at kutson.

Lantaw said...

Ishmael, mismo bro! much better to sleep on a bamboo floor if you don't mind a hard bed :)

Ishmael F. Ahab said...

I don't mind the hard bed. Sa papag ako natutulog gabi-gabi eh. :-)

Marites1034 said...

yummy! i was able to convinced my friends to return to Lake Sebu..thanks to your magnificent pics. Hopefully, we can do it soonest. I'll be checking out your given number on the homestay.

jake m said...

i've been to lake sebu three years ago but I haven't seen a t'boli up close. however, i saw one from a distance wearing her traditional garb. i should visit the falls next time.

Lantaw said...

Ishmael, sarap naman :)

Marites, good for you! good luck on your trip. just PM me if you need more info on where to go

jake, yup the 2nd falls is a must visit. they are very friendly, you should approach them next time :)

Anonymous said...

can anybody tell me where to stay in lake sebu....me & my gf plan to stay there for 5 days this coming JAnuary 2010.we both work abroad and love to stay in a nice quite place like lake sebu....which is for me lookz like an enchanted place.

Lantaw said...

Anonymous, you can stay at Punta Isla or Estares resorts. Or you can stay in Sunrise resort in Lake Seloton. If you need more info you can email me at aebarredo[at]gmail.com

Lessie said...

You would make a wonderful writer of a travel guide. You have made the Philippines a must-see destination for me at least.
(I thought of you this past Sat. when my sister and I climbed up to a small mtn. stream. No way are my photos are good as yours -- but it was fun to try. One day...)

Lantaw said...

Thank you Lessie. Maybe someday you can travel here and I can take you to some of my favorite places :)

emppeli said...

nice pics,very beautiful pics indeed.i wish i could visit there someday and experience the beauty myself.

Anonymous said...

hi there!! Im Michael from Lake Sebu Tourism Office. I am a pure T'boli. If you wish to know more about Lake Sebu and T'boli you may reach me at this number 09054304777, email me mikel_scmsi@yahoo.com,

Zumi said...

Lake sebu. isa sa pinaka magandang lugar na napuntahan ko. Syempre taga South Cot ako eh. haha..proud ako kaso mtagal na yun.. sana makapunta ako dyan at sigurado ako na mas maganda lalo ngayun dyan. Any updates of this post? Thanks

Zummi | outdoor activities  philippines

pinaytunay said...

doing bead works is what i've missed when we were there. i enjoy doing that :-) i think i know what to do next time i go back...
btw, i hope some of your photos will be displayed at the hotels around lake sebu.

Atroxell said...

My friend always talk about this place. After seeing this, I think we should visit lake sebu. Thank you for sharing this with us.

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