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.
T’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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.