Hooked On Lake Sebu

It's very early in the morning but I knew I had to get up from bed. Outside, out in the lake, fishermen were already doing their daily routine. Tending to their tilapia fish nets and fish cages. There was something calming about what they were doing. Their pace is unhurried. Their dugout canoes so silent. The air is still and so is the water. Even the lotus flowers barely winked. I merely stood in the lake shore, awed at this simple tableau.

Of  fisher folks at work.

Meanwhile, in big cities all over the world, the rat race goes on. Call that stress.

Early morning "rush hour" in the lake

Lake Sebu is about 350 hectares big. Along with the two other smaller lakes in the area, they're part of the ancestral domain of the T'boli - an indigenous tribe with a very unique culture of their own. This lake is not just important as a watershed irrigating low-lying provinces of South Cotabato & Sultan Kudarat.  This lake is where an abundant supply of tilapia is harvested. Daily. Thus the fish net and fish cages scattered everywhere.

While I could have another Tilapia dish at the resort if I wanted to, I ended up having breakfast at a turo-turo eatery just nearby. For less than P80, I had a much cheaper breakfast of paksiw na tilapia and adobong sitaw gulped down with a bottle of Coke. With my hunger satisfied, I just walked along the road leading to the town center. There was a mosque - certainly not a part of the T'bolis' animist beliefs, and a cooperative shop managed by T'boli women called COWHED. At this shop, intricate bead works and the famous T'nalak fabric is being sold among other touristy stuff.

Souvenirs galore in COWHED (Cooperative of Women in Health and Development)
T'boli Museum

Then I saw an old lady sweeping outside another T'boli-looking house. The sign says "T'boli Museum". When asked in Cebuano if I can go in, she stopped what she was doing and led me inside. There's a P5 entrance fee. If not for the corrugated iron roof, the museum would have been authentic. Inside is a small display of artifacts, native dresses and musical instruments. On a shelf  are samples of rice varieties - rice after all is the T'boli's main crop.

Hegelung (two-string guitar)
Sludoy (bamboo zither)

The old lady herself is a T'boli. Together with her family, she takes care of the museum owned privately by the Baan family. Not contented with merely showing me around, the old lady played some of the indigenous instruments. A mouth harp known as kubing was played by her daughter much to my delight - I heard about this instrument after hearing Globe Trekker TV's theme song many years ago. When told about this, they got intrigued so I brought out my iPod and let them listen to the song.

Intricately designed clothing for men & women worn during special occasions
Rice is the T'boli's main crop
Listening to Globe Trekker TV's theme song

About two hours later, that same song was blasting on my earphones while I was on the van on its way to Surallah. The catchy tune, familiar to those who watch Ian Wright in the television travel show, got me thinking about Lake Sebu all the more. This is a place that has cast a spell on me. I will come back. Someday.

Globe Trekker TV theme song (by Ian Ritchie)  featuring the kubing


  1. ang ganda ng mga lilies.sana meron din ganyan dito sa laguna de Bay.awts---lake sebu is beautiful--looks peaceful and me disticnt culture mga tao.

  2. very interesting. i hope they continue to cultivate their culture.

  3. Awesome! Very informative post, something that most anthropologists would definitely appreciate!

  4. Gimma Samalca9:29:00 PM

    i fell in love with the place Dens.:))

  5. Great post...waking up in the morning with a provincial atmosphere makes me see life is beautiful..but everything is a dream...I'm living in the city ( makati) and everything i see people in rush...grh!stress!

    great blog:) your new follower hope you follow back:)

  6. pusang kalye,
    lake sebu is culturally distinct and the natural beauty of the lake makes it even more inviting!

    Photo Cache,
    I do hope so. But just like the younger Ifugaos up north, once the younger T'bolis go to school, I'm afraid they will want to embrace the more modern life.

    The T'boli is a very interesting indigenous tribe. I'm actually hoping to do a homestay with them one day!

    Gimma Samalca,
    I'm definitely with you on that :)

    Thanks for the visit! The 'stressors' of city life is one thing you'll never find in Lake Sebu.

  7. Anonymous3:15:00 AM

    simple and relaxing life, i should say. away from air pollution. sarap! :)

  8. centromeredaw,
    If I was born here, I'd probably be contented. But having lived in big cities, I'm scared of getting bored.

  9. Anonymous3:21:00 PM

    I've been there twice and was able to stay sa house of Datu Baay himself...and indeed the place seems to cast a spell on me as well...thanks for posting...

  10. crownedcaptain,
    Lucky you! If ever I had the chance to return, I'd be happy already if can stay in a traditional T'boli house. Thanks for dropping by.


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