By Apolinario B Villalobos
Gentle people of South Cotabato –
Epitome of strength who moves with agility
But graceful enough to sway with the wind
With innocent smile easily parting their lips
And laughter that crease their gentle face.
Fortunate people, contentedly they live –
In the fastness of green, rivers, hills and valleys
By God’s will, long- hidden from lowlanders
Which did them good, but then time came –
The haze was parted, and finally, they were seen.
Clothed in patiently – pounded fibers
And woven into the smooth cloth – t’nalak
The men stand proud in the earth-colored garb
While women looking regal in their vivid dress
Seen from afar, they seem to float in the breeze.
People of the rainbow, these people are –
And placid that made them prey to the greedy
But to them, God is kind, made them secured
From harm that only the heartless could inflict
And nature’s wrath, to them could easily wreak.
Straight from their heart, to God they pray
Sincere praises are mumbled by betel-red lips
No pretensions in their offered dances
Pleadings are for their safety and health
That for them are well- cherished wealth…
(The T’boli is one of the indigenous tribes of the Philippines, found in the southern part of the archipelago, particularly, South Cotabato province, island of Mindanao)