|traditional T'boli house - notice some differences to the nipa hut?|
With the help of Kuya Ronnie from the Tourism office, we were able to join a group of experienced hikers who were also going to the lake on the same day, we figured we might as well join them. Little did we know that they were doing an outreach activity before the trek. I felt really bad because we didn't bring enough money for other relief goods we could have contributed. Anyway, it was still a good opportunity to help out so we decided to join in.
Our first stop was at Sitio Nabol, a small yet friendly T'boli community, the town is also a common rest stop for folks heading out to Lake Holon. Before you can reach Sitio Nabol, you have to take a one-hour ride to Salacafe, from there you have to trek your way up for about 30-45 minutes. Sitio Nabol is really far from the city, but you wouldn't really hear any dissatisfaction from the people. They are happy and content with what they currently have. It is one of the lessons I have learned from them.
|excited faces :)|
The mini outreach program was a Christmas gift to the T'boli tribe of Nabol. The group distributed food like spaghetti and chicken fillet meal from a certain fast food chain. It was not shocking to hear that the locals haven't got the chance to try these kind of dishes before, seeing how remote their place is from the city. Afterwards, there was gift-giving of other goodies and toys. It was such a delight seeing those smiles and hearing their laughter. I couldn't really explain the sincere joy I felt at that time. To think how simple and menial these material things are for people who grew up in the city, but for them, holding those toys in their tiny hands, eating the food like it was from a five-star restaurant, it made me realize how lucky we are to be experiencing these "luxuries" in Manila.
|the kids graciously offering a gift of song to the group|
|their first sight of the gifts, a reaction so simple and genuine, yet enough to warm ones heart|
|The wonderful children of Sitio Nabol, Salacafe. Shy but full of smiles! This was just priceless!|
After the program, we left to start our trek which took us around 3-4 hours. It has been a long time since I have been involved in such strenous activity, and mind you, they actually label the trail to Mt. Parker for beginners! This is Mother Nature's way of telling me to get fit!
|"Nabol" tree that is quite common in this town, thus the area was named Sitio Nabol|
|our guide, Kuya Alex, and Sitio Nabol's community leader, Kuya Celso|
|trying out the traditional T'boli headpiece worn by women. bagay ba? :P|
I didn't expect that our trek to Lake Holon would be this heartwarming and special. The indigineous community of Sitio Nabol definitely made our trip unforgettable in so many ways. Their smiles, stories, and hospitality is something that I will make me come back here again. Tey Bong S'lamat!
|cultural exchange with the locals, one of the most memorable moments during our stay in Mindanao|
Take buses that head for Koronadal/Marbel. Yellow Bus Line offers Davao-Koronadal route that pass by General Santos, trip will take around 2-3 hours. From Marbel, there are vans that can take you to T'boli with "Direct T'boli" sign. Trip will take around 45 minutes to an hour.
How to reach Lake Holon/Mt.Melibingoy:
Tourists must register first at Municipal Tourism Office of T'boli to secure local guides. From there, you have to take a one-hour skylab ride to Barangay Salacafe (100 pesos per person), that would serve as the starting point of the trek to Mt.Melibingoy. You may also negotiate for porters before you proceed with the trek. It would take around three to four hours of hiking to Lake Holon.
Contact Persons (T'boli Tourism Officers)
Ronilo Magsael "Kuya Ronie" - 09056454662
Alexander Montallana "Kuya Alex" - 09354206981
More of Mindanao here