The Heartfelt Hospitality of The T’boli: How We Were Welcomed in Lake Sebu

Akin to a warm embrace, Filipinos are naturally hospitable. No matter where you go in the Philippines, you’ll experience a welcome like no other, the Pinoy way.

In Lake Sebu, South Cotabato, we were warmly accommodated inside a Tboli homestay, which was an unforgettable experience for me as someone who grew up in Manila. This was also my first time visiting the province during the Community-Based Tourism Marketing Enhancement by the Tourism Promotions Board of the Philippines.

Our T’boli hosts for this lunch
Our T’boli hosts this lunch

Visitors who are on a tour of Lake Sebu can book a sleeping space in the homestay for Php 400 a night. The place was elevated and under the hut, there is a space with a wooden bench where guests can sit down and appreciate the view of the lake.

We were there for lunch, and while our delectable spread was being prepared, we gathered inside. With huge smiles and pleasantries, the guests were called, and as we sat down, their performances began.

Wearing their traditional clothing and colorful accessories made of brass, glass beads, and shells, a few members of the tribe showcased their talents. They presented some ritual dances as their musical instruments played to the beat such as the kulintang and kumbing.

Accompanied by percussion and string instruments, they performed some ritual dances
Accompanied by percussion and string instruments, they performed some ritual dances.

There was a ritual dance of courtship, filled with swaying movements from side to side, a dance of healing where the movements are used to call for help from the gods when one of their family members is sick, a dance for good produce, a dance that depicts being a warrior, more.

One of the T’boli ritual dances
One of the T’boli ritual dances

Their performance left us in awe, and I truly had a better appreciation of the T’boli culture. It was also a visual treat, watching them perform in their woven pieces in red, white, and black. I realized how fortunate we are to witness this beautiful art and tradition.

After this gathering, they led us to the table where we could finally immerse ourselves in the T’boli cuisine. We had freshly caught fish cooked inside a bamboo trunk, grilled chicken, fresh mangoes, rice, and soup. To cap off this hearty meal, we had their traditional coffee, which was full-bodied and had an earthy taste and smoky aroma.

One of the dishes served to us
One of the dishes served to us

They say that when you travel, you return home with a fresh perspective. In this case, the whole experience painted a newfound vivid picture in my mind of the T’boli culture. There is an inherent warmth and genuineness in the people, and when you leave the homestay, you’ll be forever bound by the strings of their heartfelt hospitality.

Lunch prepared for us
Lunch prepared for us

Overall, this experience is a must when you visit Lake Sebu in South Cotabato. Beyond the lake itself, the lotus flowers, and the picture-worthy paddle boat ride, you’ll discover more enchanting things inside a Tboli household.

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