Support the T'bolis of Lake Sebu
$8,748 of $10,000 goal
Early this year, a severe drought in the T’boli area damaged the water system project of the women in the village; it has impacted the resources of the community.
Although the rainy season has begun, damaged infrastructure has severely impacted the community's harvest and livelihood for the year. It will take more than a season for the T'bolis of South Cotabato, Mindanao to recover from the drought.
The Center for Babaylan Studies (CfBS) learned about this crisis from Jenita Eko, a young T’boli woman whom Leny Strobel met in 2006 through the Fulbright program. A young Lumad scholar, Jenita eventually became the leader of a group of weavers. The Fulbright teachers from California were able to help the community to establish a livelihood project that enabled them eventually to open a kindergarten school to support 40 children.
The school has been in operation for the past three years. Despite financial crisis faced by indigenous peoples communities, in this case, in Lake Sebu, Cotabato in Southern Philippines. The T’boli women weavers have continued to support their school activities and feeding programs by carefully managing their Tnalak Social Enterprise income and Level 3 water system monthly collection fees.
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?
The situation of the T'boli teachers has now reached crisis proportions. For almost a year, teachers have not received their honorarium and there are not enough school supplies and food for the children.
WHO ARE WE?
The Center for Babaylan Studies (CfBS) has been in relationship with several indigenous communities. In gratitude and in honoring the beauty of our indigenous heritage, we work to create opportunities for Filipinos in the diaspora to become involved in showing our kinship; this time specifically with a group T’Boli women weavers and educators.
We are a group of dedicated CfBS volunteers who believe in the importance of cultural stories and in helping keep alive our indigenous peoples’ ways of life.
We are moved by the story of the Lake Sebu Indigenous Women Weavers Association, Inc. (LASIWWAI) Learning Institute, a project of the T’boli women entrepreneurs and community leaders of the LASIWWAI T’nalak Social Enterprise, which provides educational opportunities for indigenous T’boli youth in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato, Philippines.
Our immediate concern is to raise $10,000 to keep the LASIWWAI Learning Institute open for the rest of the 2015-2016 school year. Once that is secured, we will begin working on creating a sustainable partnership with the community.
WHAT IS THE LASIWWAI LEARNING INSTITUTE?
The LASIWWAI Learning Institute is a project of the T’boli women entrepreneurs and community leaders of the LASIWWAI T’nalak Social Enterprise. It upholds the hopes and aspirations of the indigenous T’boli community by fully developing the potential and capacity of T’boli youth through holistic education that inculcates love and appreciation for the indigenous culture and self-reliant leadership in service of a sustainable future.
The LASIWWAI Learning Institute works to uphold and preserve the dignity of indigenous cultures and traditions while creating community. The school supports the next generation of teachers who are committed to providing culture-appropriate education to T’boli children. Lessons also involve T’boli mothers, many of whom are learning alongside their children.
WHO ARE THE T’BOLI PEOPLE?
The LASIWWAI community consists of members of the T’boli tribe who live in the highlands of Lake Sebu, South Cotabato. The community is one of several T’boli weaving communities in Lake Sebu.
According to one creation story, the T’boli are descendants of La Bebe and La Lomi, and Tamfeles and La Kagef, two couples who survived a big flood after being warned by the god D’wata. Taking a huge bamboo that could accommodate countless people; they filled the vessel with food. When Lake Holon was inundated, the four got into the bamboo while the rest of the population drowned in the swollen waters. When the floods subsided and the days grew warm, the fortunate couples split the bamboo open and emerged into the sunlight.
The T’bolis’ close and enduring connection with Nature is rooted not only in their creation story, but also in their art, music, dance, and spirituality. T’nalak (cloth) is a traditional textile of the T’boli people made from abaca fibers. The T’bolis believe that the goddess Fu Dalu, the spirit of abaca hemp, comes to them in dreams and inspires the beautiful patterns that they then weave into the cloth.
Among the T’bolis, the best and most gifted weavers are blessed by ancestors who share the most intricate and beautiful T’nalak designs through dreams. Only T’boli women may touch the sacred textile. For the T’boli, the weaving of the T'nalak is steeped in spiritual and symbolic meaning; hence, there are many rituals surrounding the production of the sacred cloth.
WHY SHOULD YOU SUPPORT INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES IN THE PHILIPPINES?
Maintaining Connection and Solidarity through Story. In the West, we have become a society that yearns for and grieves the loss of connection to our ancestral origins, identities, and cultures. With the advent and popularity of sites such as ancestry.com, television shows like "Once Upon a Time" featuring orphans searching for roots, and genetic tests like 23andMe and National Geographic’s Geno 2.0, we instinctively know that our stories are important. They ground and connect us to the Earth, to ourselves, and to each other.
This is why we want to support the indigenous Tboli; they have not yet lost what we long for. Help us keep alive and pass on their enriching cultural stories.
Biodiversity Conservation. Climate change has a severe impact on T’boli communities. At Lake Sebu, their water recovery and distribution system has been severely impacted. Without revenue, the community is unable to sustain the school and pay for teacher salaries and school supplies.
By supporting the LASIWWAI Learning Institute, we can help the continuation of T’boli dreamweaving, preserve indigenous traditions, and help instill a greater sense of pride among the next generation of T’boli leaders.
As blogger Vinci Bueza remarked, “[The T’boli] stories may give us a glimpse into the attitudes of the T’boli towards the lakes, rivers, forests, and animals in their proximate environment.”
This, in turn, carries ancestral knowledge that can teach us to care for the Earth and help restore her vitality.
With your partnership, we can ensure that the T’boli peoples’ rich traditions are passed on to future generations.
STAGE 1: Ensure that the costs of educating the T’boli children in the 2015-2016 school year are covered.
STAGE 2: Establish an “adopt-a-village” intercultural program to create a sustainable future.
IN THE WORDS OF OUR SUPPORTERS ...
“I am concerned about the impact of climate change on the most vulnerable populations - the indigenous communities! Focusing on this small-scale project is my own way of sharing responsibility for ways to mitigate climate change impact.” ~ Leny Strobel, founder and co-director, Center for Babaylan Studies
“When you think about it, our lives as city-dwellers are not really separate from those of our indigenous brothers and sisters. They live the way they do (often impoverished, struggling, their very survival threatened) because we live the way we do (hungry for resources, dependent on raw materials often violently extracted from under their feet). We owe it to them to do what we can to halt the system that is killing them, and, in the meantime, to do what we can to keep them from totally going under.” ~ S. Lily Mendoza, co-director, Center for Babaylan Studies
“Political unrest, religious intolerance, colonial mentality, and the dismal economic climate in the Philippines all contribute to pushing indigenous communities further out to the margins of society. Out of necessity and the everyday struggle to survive, indigenous peoples are forced to abandon their traditional ways. I believe that the work of Jenita Eko and the LASIWWAI is important in ensuring the continuity of indigenous knowledge in the Tiboli community, and provide children with a sense of self-worth, hope and determination to preserve customs and beliefs.” ~ Maileen Hamto, project coordinator
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT
Your donation is tax-deductible.
If writing a check, please make it out to MINDANAO LILANG-LILANG; on the note write "CfBS/T'boli School."
Mail donation checks to:
Center for Babaylan Studies
282 Beech Avenue
Santa Rosa, CA 95409
We want to share a quick update about the crowdfunding campaign to support the T’boli teachers and school children in the LASIWWAI community. Teacher stipends, children’s meals and school uniforms were funded through the campaign.
Jenita Eko, leader of the LASIWWAI enterprise, is pleased to report that extra funds from the campaign also were allocated for key T’boli community projects, including:
~ New source of drinking water serving 806 families
~ New paint for indigenous school classrooms
~ Audio visual technology (television and DVD player) for instructional purposes
Jenita writes that many families live in homes without electricity, and access to a communal television has been a great addition to the Lake Sebu T'bolis.
Community elders, along with parents, established a policy that the TV only will be used on Fridays. In addition, only educational programming will be shown to parents and children. Parents also have expressed an interest in learning English, so some of the instructional programming will focus on basic language instruction. Jenita assures us that the policy about use of visual technology applies to sustaining oral traditions in the indigenous T’boli community.
The LASIWWAI community also shared photos from their Christmas celebration. T’boli teachers, children, and parents are grateful for your generosity and kindness.
On behalf of the Center for Babaylan Studies core team, thank you again for your engagement in this important project.
Center for Babaylan Studies
As we officially close the crowdfunding campaign for the indigenous T’boli school, we want to share some great news. This past weekend, attendees of the Christmas party of the Pilipino American Association of Rohnert Park (PAARP - Sonoma County) raised an additional $318 for the campaign.
The PAARP event, co-hosted and joined by the local Odd Fellows members, offered Ka Leny Strobel the opportunity to introduce the campaign and present the photo slideshow. The Center for Babaylan Studies is thankful to PAARP for their generosity!
Again, we want to thank each and every one of you for your support of the campaign. Collectively, we met over 86% of our campaign goal. We couldn't have done it without your engagement. Salamat po!
We will be in contact again soon about how the CfBS will move forward with continuing our support of the T’boli indigenous community in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato.
Many thanks to Eileen Tabios, whose three-day fundraiser netted an additional $160 for the campaign. We also continue to receive donations from friends of CfBS through Perla Daly's request for campaign donations in lieu of holiday gifts.
Many thanks to folks who donated prize incentives: Amanda Ngoho, Perla Daly, S. Lily Mendoza, Ginto Seeds, and Leny Strobel. The incentives helped keep the campaign alive, especially during Filipino American History Month,
Of course, none of this would be possible today, without the vision and support of CfBS's heart and core, Ka Leny Strobel. Her continuing work with indigenous communities in the Philippines has inspired many of us to pay a closer attention to the lived lives of our katutubos -- our kapwa -- in the archipelago, and take action.
As previously noted, the campaign is extended through Sunday, December 6. It's not too late to consider contributing again, or asking others to donate.
You make a difference! Salamat po for your generous spirit!
As you know, the crowdfunding campaign was scheduled to end today.
However, we received great news from CfBS co-founder Ate Perla Daly regarding her personal request from her family members and friends. In lieu of Christmas gifts, Ate Perla has graciously and kindly asked her loved ones to donate to the campaign.
We are inspired by Ate Perla’s selfless act of altruism, and we expect more donations over the next few days. Because of this new development, we are extending the online campaign until Sunday, Dec. 6, to ensure that we capture all donations from the ask.
We are still on schedule to remit funds raised thus far to Jenita Eko and T’boli teachers this week. Additional funds raised in December will become available in January.
Given the extension, we hope that you will take a moment to share the campaign with your networks.
Maraming salamat po for supporting the T’bolis of Lake Sebu!
I want to personally thank Maileen Hamto and the other dedicated CFBS volunteers for powering up the fundraiser. Because of your efforts this has been made a reality and the T'boli school children, teachers and village has benefited from actual actions and results and can be supported by the generosity of others around the world.