T’NALAK FESTIVAL 2014: From the Land of the Dreamweavers to the World!

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.

Tnalak Fest Cover PhotoT’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.

Tnalak Festival 2014 (103)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.

Tnalak Festival 2014 (295)Tnalak Festival 2014 (292)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.

Tnalak Festival 2014 (290) Tnalak Festival 2014 (198)Hailed as the biggest, brightest and the most colorful festival in South Central Mindanao, T’nalak Festival is not just a cheerful celebration of the province’s cultural identity but a great way to showcase the all the best that South Cotabato has to offer including its gentle people.

Tnalak Festival 2014 (305) Tnalak Festival 2014 (326)This becomes evident as the main thoroughfares of Koranadal City, the capital of the province was filled with sprightly music, outstanding performance and vibrant colors as nine contingents coming from different schools, communities and towns converged in the much awaited Street Dancing Competition, the most watched festivity of T’nalak Festival that pays tribute to South Cotabato’s artistic, cultural and historical heritage.

Tnalak Festival 2014 (102) Tnalak Festival 2014 (103)In this highly anticipated Mardi Gras of Indigenous Colors and Dances, the heart pounding ethnic music reverberated all over the city’s downtown district while the vibrant colors of captivating black, red and white – the colors of t’nalak – dominated the streets. These were the pulsating beats and glowing hues brought by the 9 contingents as they showcased rituals and dances of their respective tribes dressed and accessorized by multihued costumes as they performed with great intensity, passion and enthusiasm.

Tnalak Festival 2014 (87) Tnalak Festival 2014 (94) Tnalak Festival 2014 (111) Tnalak Festival 2014 (115) Tnalak Festival 2014 (124) Tnalak Festival 2014 (131) Tnalak Festival 2014 (137) Tnalak Festival 2014 (141) Tnalak Festival 2014 (142) Tnalak Festival 2014 (146) Tnalak Festival 2014 (147) Tnalak Festival 2014 (148) Tnalak Festival 2014 (150) Tnalak Festival 2014 (254) Tnalak Festival 2014 (294) Tnalak Festival 2014 (297) Tnalak Festival 2014 (301) Tnalak Festival 2014 (302) Tnalak Festival 2014 (308) Tnalak Festival 2014 (311) Tnalak Festival 2014 (317) Tnalak Festival 2014 (319) Tnalak Festival 2014 (323) Tnalak Festival 2014 (325) Tnalak Festival 2014 (329) Tnalak Festival 2014 (338) Tnalak Festival 2014 (344) Tnalak Festival 2014 (351) Tnalak Festival 2014 (353) Tnalak Festival 2014 (358)I have always been proud of my roots and heritage as Mindanaoan and witnessing all these made me even prouder and grateful to have been born and raised in this beautiful Island blessed with multi-cultural influences – a privilege I will always be proud of for as long as I live. And just like these multicultural differences showcased during this spectacular street dancing festivity, there is unity in diversity – just as I embraced living and enjoying this huge island of great multicultural diversity.

Tnalak Festival 2014 (1) DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO DCIM100GOPRO Tnalak Festival 2014 (377) From Koronadal City, South Cotabato, I am OLAN EMBOSCADO and this is THE TRAVEL TELLER.


In a country where fiestas and festivals are celebrated all year round, witnessing an authentic Ethnic Festival is a rare experience. Seeing and experiencing it up close and personal for the very first time totally blew me away. The beat, the costumes, the dances, the rituals – everything becomes more significant. I’m talking about the Kaamulan Festival of the green Province of Bukidnon.

After many years of attempting to come to Bukidnon for this festival, finally, I made it this year.  Thanks to my travel buddy Christopher Diaz and fellow Pinoy travel blogger Bonzenti Panganiban, both from the Province of Bukidnon, for persuading me to witness such a spectacular event. Had I turned down their invitation, I would have missed witnessing Kaamulan Festival for the nth time. I would have missed seeing the only authentic Ethnic Festival in the Philippines.

Kaamulan Festival is a cultural festival that showcases the rich customs and traditions of the 7 ethnic hill tribes of whole Province of Bukidnon. They are the Talaandig, Higaonon, Umayamnon, Manobo, Tiwahanon, Matigsalug, and Bukidnon, the early settlers of the Province. “Kaamulan” is from the Binukid word “amul” which means “to gather” and “Kaamulan” is a gathering for a purpose. Hence, the festival is an annual gathering of the 7 tribes of Bukidnon in celebration of their rich customs and traditions along with local dwellers of Bukidnon.

Held annually in Malaybalay City, the capital town of the province, Kaamulan Festival is considered as one of the biggest annual events in Northern Mindanao. It has drawn tourists all over the island and has slowly captivated the hearts of festival fanatics from different parts of the country. It displays the colorful artistry, innate talents, and diverse culture and heritage in the whole province. It adds more colors to the Province’s verdant hills, cool climate, lush forest, magnificent waterfalls, cold springs and vast lakes.

Kaamulan Festival is celebrated for a month boasting various activities and nightly affairs in the Province’s Capital from February to March. Kaamulan Street Dancing is the highlight of the event. It is the convergence of what the festival really is – an ethnic gathering of the seven Hill Tribes of Bukidnon.

Attending Kaamulan Festival was a new festival experience for me. The Ethnic Street Dancing was superbly unparalleled. Most of the festivals that I have witnessed in other places are those participated mostly by students and community-based groups who were portraying ethnic traditions of one town. Kaamulan Festival on the other hand is different. Based on my firsthand experience, 75% of the participants are real members of the ethnic group of the Province making it the most authentic Ethnic Festival in the Philippines. The main dancers, chanters, drumbeaters, ritual performers – most of them come from the seven hill tribes of Bukidnon. It was an event to behold as elders of each tribe perform rituals and dances truly one of its kinds. Their colorful woven costumes, headdresses, amulets, anklets, earrings and necklaces beautifully depict their rich colorful tradition.

As festival fanatic having witnessed Kaamulan Festival for the first time, I have to agree with the former Tourism Secretary Ace Durano when he said, “Kaamulan Festival is undoubtedly the only authentic ethnic festival in the Philippines”. It actually is – diversely authentic. This gives me a very good reason to travel to Bukidnon every March. After all, it is four hours away from Davao City.

So, if you like to witness an authentic ethnic festival in the country, remember the word KAAMULAN which means a gathering! Let’s gather next year in the very heart of Bukdinon and commune with the 7 Hill Tribes of the Province for another colorful celebration of Kaamulan Festival.


1. Experiencing Bukidnon’s Kaamulan Festival
2. Impasug-ong’s Center for Ecological Development And Recreation
Malaybalay’s Monastery of the Transfiguration
4. Climbing Musuan Volcano