In a hidden rainforest in the highland of South Cotabato in Mindanao, lies the picturesque town of Lake Sebu, home of one of the indigenous peoples of the Philippines, the people of T’boli.
They are animists who consider themselves the guardians of nature and for centuries they have lived their ethnic life and nurtured their unique culture in arts and crafts in order to pass them on to their future generations.
The book Weaving Our Dreams: The Tboli People of the Philippines written by Sandie Oreta Gillis explores the fascinating culture of this indigenous community. It introduces Dreamweaver Barbara Ofong and musician/performer Maria Todi and provides a glimpse of the Tboli way of life through their eyes. These two women are passionate about preserving their culture, traditions, lands and connections with nature. There are a number of such indigenous groups in the Philippines and together they form part of a Filipino’s Philippine heritage. This new book, Weaving our Dreams, about the T’boli people, their history and culture contributes to the Filipinos’ understanding of their Philippine roots and culture.
Weaving our Dreams is an illustrated monograph focused on the T’boli’s arts and crafts particularly handweaving. The hand-woven tnalak fabric is sacred to the Tboli people. The weaving of the tnalak has been a tradition passed down through generations. These complex patterns and unique designs come from the Dreamweaver's imagination with guidance from the spirit of abaca known as Fu Dalu. Culture bearer Maria Todi, who runs the School of Living Traditions in Lake Sebu, plays a vital role in protecting the cultural heritage of her people.
In 2021, emerging Mindanaon artist and book designer Francis Herradura and Sandie Gillis founded the Narragila Culture and Arts Foundation (www.narragila.org). The non-profit society aims to inspire and support artists and culture bearers.
Sandie Oreta Gillis holds a degree in Broadcast Communication from the University of the Philippines (1981). She co-hosted a radio morning talk show at Radio Veritas in Manila before migrating to Canada in 1983. Gillis co-authored and collaborated with Alfredo Roces on the biography of legendary artist Sofronio Y. Mendoza in SYM: The Power of Struggle. She is a freelance writer who supports Philippine arts and culture and finds joy in writing about the country’s heritage, history and traditions. Gillis contributes articles to Positively Filipino, Dahong Pilipino and various media outlets. She serves as voluntary Board Director of the Dimasalang III International Artists Group (www.dimasalang.org) in Vancouver.
The book is available on the FriesenPress Bookstore, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and online retailers. Author’s website: https://www.sandiegillis.com/