T’nalak Festival 2014: Success in Colors and Numbers

The striking red and black and yellow colors flooded the front lines of the long parade and the familiar tribal tune directed the tempo of the street dancers as thousands of street spectators watch on...It was the culmination day of T’nalak Festival!

The T’nalak Festival, dubbed as the biggest, brightest and most colorful celebration in South Central Mindanao Region also commemorates the Foundation Anniversary of the province. It's the 15th year of the festival  and the 48th anniversary of the province this year.

The T’nalak, a cloth of intense and striking colors from dyed abaca fibers intricately woven by Tboli indigenous women following the patterns from dreams, is chosen as the festival icon celebrating the differences of culture and religion of ethnic groups.

The cloth now represents not just the festival but also the people of the province whose spirits are indomitable and whose “dreams” helped build what South Cotabato is today, the enthusiastic tourism officer of the province, Cesar "Onyok" Sulit, said in a chit-chat we had over coffee in his office.

South Cotabato brands itself as the “Land of the Dreamweavers”, owing the line to the gift of Tboli women who produce the patterns from dreams. It’s a metaphorical representation too of the people whose dreams to live in peace and progress amidst diversity in today’s reality. Sir Onyok added that the festival is also a celebration of the colourful mixture of cultures and the modernity and progress.

The provincial tourism czar has got numbers to show. He said around 300,000 people flocked to Koronadal City, the provincial capital, in the week-long celebration and around 80,000 were present last July 18, the culmination day.

The street dancing representing the three cultural groups – the indigenous people, the Muslims and the Christians- was the main show of the festival day. Huge boxes of speakers aligned every corner of crowd-filled Alunan Avenue and Gensan Drive. The vast field of Central Mindanao Sports Complex was adorned with the colors worn by jovial children eager to perform for their represented schools and tribes. The teams of dozen drummers moved the crowd.

The number of visitors had more-than-doubled compared last year. During the parade the streets are full, the sports complex was overflowing with people. At night, the people joining the street party clogged all the major highways from Bonifacio St. to Mabini St. All food establishments are "full-house" between 7 pm July 18 until 5AM the next day. 

The 24-meter wide and 1.2-kilometer long portion of Alunan Avenue covering some 24,000 square meters was filled with around 72,000 people in one night. The varying music from one speaker station to the next plus the dancing crowd thumped the ground.

The measure of success though is not limited to the number of crowd of each event but also on the implementation according to plans and working within the given budget, said Sir Onyok. The festival pushed through with a budget of P9 million.

Equally important is the participation of the private sector, among other groups, and the economic benefit the festival brought to the business sector, from the hotels and restaurants to the small and micro-enterprises. The festival surely brought additional income to ukay-ukay, balut and even the cold water vendors, he quipped.

And of course the quality of the shows and presentations during the festival is world class. The rumbling of the audiences’ response to every performance in every show determines that success, he said.

Officials and spectators could only be amazed by the crowd. It wasn't like that before. The crowd was overwhelming! 

"I think we surpassed all our expectations despite the limited budget. That becomes a challenge for us", the tourism chief said.

“We have to surpass that given the expectations to further elevate the level of celebration next year”. []


  1. will definitely go back next year Luy to once again experience the celebration of the woven dreams of your people! :) has a blast last time. :)

    1. It was nice having the #ByahengMindanaw team here. Next time let's join the parade with our Mindanaoan costumes. :D
      See you around. Cheers, Olan!

  2. grabeha kulang pa ang budget ato? nindot naman to kaayo, i think mubalik gyud next year para makita ang mas pa kaysa this year :) ug sakto ka bai, ikaduha mi nipalit ug 8oz nga mineral water for 20pesos per bottle hehehhe

    1. nakatabang ka sa gagmay'ng negosyante bay sa imong gipalit. hehe. next year basin mas bongga pa ilang plano bay. balik jud! :)


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