Lang Dulay: Philippine's National Living Treasure

Leading the ancient art of T'boli Textile Weaving is T'nalak Master Weaver and National Living Treasure awardee, Lang Dulay.

Lang Dulay in her 90s
Right after my ultimate habal-habal adventure and T'boli shoot at Pulang Lupa in Lake Sebu, I headed straight to Lake Sebu's famous icon accompanied by Ms. Rosie Sola, a T'boli community affairs officer for National Commission on Indigenous People (NCIP). She acted as our official tourist guide for that whole day. I already learned a lot about Lake Sebu (some places I never knew existed!), the T'boli Tribe's custom and tradition, all while doing my photo and video shoot. She also informed me of who is Lang Dulay to the community even before I get to meet her.

The Manlilikha ng Bayan Center
This is where you can find Lang Dulay

The Manlilikha ng Bayan Center of Sitio Tukolefa, Lamdalag, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato is dedicated to the preservation and flowering of the ancient art of T'boli textile weaving. The center as a training venue ensure the transfer and continuity of this worth living tradition. Its construction began in 1999 with funding from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) to support t'nalak master weaver and National Living Treasure, Lang Dulay. The center is maintained by the Gawad ng Manlilikha ng Bayan program of the NCCA as the nation's custodian of culture.

inside the Manlilikha ng Bayan Center

Upon arriving at the center, I got thrilled to see a number of looms laid full with T'nalak. The place also displays Lang Dulay's award recognition from the Philippine government. Just then, I learned that Lang Dulay is getting ready to dress up (their practice dictates that a T'boli would always want to look at her best especially when one is expecting a visitor), however, I also learned that she has just got back from the hospital! She was sick at that time but what surprised me the most was the fact that this lady in her 90s doesn't look ill like other elders out there. My aunt immediately gave her a sachet of healthy cereal. I asked if she just wanted to rest but affirms she's ok. Now for the shoot!

Ms. Rosie Sola talking about different customs and traditions of T'boli Tribe
Ms. Rosie Sola started telling us how Lang started. She was just 12 years old when she started weaving the t'nalak, a skill handed down through generations. Here's a trivia I found out, to know who is the best weaver of all, according to Ms. Sola, they gathered 13 of the best weavers in the province and the weavers themselves chose who among them is the best T'nalak weaver - Lang Dulay comes 3rd. Yes, Lang may not have been the best but she sure has come out to inspire lots of her fellow T'boli's to continue the tradition of T'nalak weaving, to create more of whom they call, the Dreamweavers. Thus the respect and recognition.
T'nalak weaving

I asked them if they could show me how they weave the t'nalak and they happily sat down and started to weave. An 8 meter per roll of t'nalak is intricately handwoven for four months. It all begins with a weaver's dream where they seem to have visions of patterns, giving birth to a new t'nalak design. The process also includes talking to spirits before they could even get the fibers from the abaca tree. Bed Siwol is one of Lang's famous designs and is being copied by many others for mass production. An original t'nalak design from Lang Dulay would cost a thousand pesos per meter. And they don't sell them per meter, they sell them per roll (8meters/roll). Yes it is pricey, but after the tour and interviews I had learned to appreciate the quality, tradition and the labor that comes with the price tag.

Bed Gondong
I bought this t'nalak named as Bed Gondong with the usual selling price of Php1200/meter. But since I don't have the budget to buy a roll of it, besides asking for a discount, I was fortunate at that time to be able to buy just 4 meters of the roll. According to the T'boli, a t'nalak should never be cut or washed since it is considered sacred. It was at that time that only Lang Dulay herself can cut the t'nalak. I love my newly bought t'nalak, it's native yet classy in design. It is a masterpiece and coming from Lang Dulay, it serves as an investment, a fine tapestry artpiece waiting to be hanged on our wall.

Lang Dulay cutting my newly bought t'nalak

Right after they showed me how to weave the t'nalak, 5 of the dancers from Helobung Dance Troupe wholeheartedly perform 3 of their native T'boli dances: Madal Tahug, Madalahelos and Bird Dance. Madalahelos was performed by my aunt's friend, a type of dance that is very hard to execute because of its hard foot steps while the Bird Dance is presented by immitating the Tahaw bird.

T'boli ladies dancing Madal Tahug
Madalahelos Dance
Bird dance performed by Ms. Rosie Sola
with Lang Dulay and Lake Sebu's Dreamweavers
As we bid farewell to Lake Sebu's Dreamweavers, we thanked them for a day of learning experience and wishing Lang Dulay fast recovery and good health.

Ms. Rosie Sola can be reached at +639359702157
Watch the 2 part series of my LAKE SEBU TOURISM VIDEO here


  1. Hi i came here from ironwulf. So we went there at the same month this year. T'nalak production is really amazing, i now missed the roll (6 or 8m) given to me by a friend from Davao. Since i don't have a house i gave the whole roll to a colleague. I should have waited longer before parting with it. Thanks.

  2. Hi Andrea, I agree. The t'nalak is really a wonderful piece of art. From dreaming of designs to actual production, labor of love talaga. Hopefully maipagpatuloy talaga nila ang pagproduce ng quality T'nalak because it's no doubt one of Lake Sebu's charm. Buy a roll na lang when you get back there :)


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