T A O M U S I C   O R D E R I N G   I N F O R M A T I O N


Mendung Sabal & Myrna Pula, TUDBULUL LUNAY
MOGUL: T'boli Hero Of Lunay, The Place Of Gongs And
Music. Tao Music, 2002


"I belong to the first generation, the first people, I should say; and I can survive in my own way. My dream is that we preserve what we have by uniting as a tribe and also by uniting with other tribes. We can only move on this way. My life is getting shorter; I would like that our ways remain, as I continue contributing a little to it. Our place, S'bu, is the place where our ancestors have gathered us, and this, we must maintain." --- Mendung Sabal, 2001

Born in Lake Sebu, now living in Tubiala, Surallah, South Cotabato, Mendung Sabal is a shaman-healer, epic-chanter, multi-instrumentalist, weaver, embroiderer, and settler of disputes. Of her life story, she sings the following (excerpts of Mendung's song about her life, transcribed and translated by Myrna Pula).

"A pity this Mendung! In Lake Sebu I was born. My father is Bensawan, my mother's name is Singgay. Liza is my eldest daughter, Arlin next to her. Kikoy came, and Dionoy too. They are my children in my old age. My mother, Singgay, died when I was three years old. Her name is Gisan, my aunt who took care of me when I was young. I worked with her, we slept in the farm. When I reached my tenth year, I dreamt of a song, it entered my liver and was stored there. I knew how Lunay came about, how the earth came into being, the skies I have studied them. This makes me known as a singer all over, because of my dream, because of my soul-travels. That is why I try to never make trouble, to protect my song. It's more than having wealth, wealth for the years. This song in my liver made me know about the world. I'm telling it in story form, before I die; the sad times I've been through. Marriage for me was arranged, I was still very young then. Still I was able to stand for myself; I didn't die. I promote my song, it is my protection, regardless of being poor, poor all over, poor in everything. I tell the rich people, it's not that I sell my song, it's not that I give it away. All I need is recognition. The only one who allows me to see, who translates my song is Myrna, whom I have moved along. While Myrna promotes, D'wata looks down. I never stop to breathe the sad harvests of the past. I got married young and poorly. As if bartered, they passed me from one man to another. It is a shame to be a woman passed on, good if I had wealth to depend on, good if I was rich. But it's only my song that earns for me, my song that serves as my mother, and my father too. I became famous because my song is not a game, my words not ordinary. I'm the one that's ordinary. But never mind, my song is what people would like to hear, my song until the day I die, for generations to read about. The new children who will appear, I will them my story, this I will leave on earth. Grace, my song she will promote, she's from Manila, I send it to Malacanang, passing through space, on an airplane, because I dreamt it. The woman-owner of my song already sits on my mat, she's always on my mat. I met her personally when I was still without a child. Now I am old, now I am about to die, still she's here. It's more than having a mother of my own, or a husband. It's all the work of D'wata, that's why I learned. What I lack is, I can't write, I can't read, I have no book to read. It doesn't really matter, I might get crazy. It's enough, the education that I have, the song that I dreamt. What serves as my book and pen to write is the song that I have, the song in me. My talent, in any impromptu situation, never fails. At daytime, at nighttime, even rainy days, I am never exhausted, never missing anything. The one thing I keep, the song I sing every day, is a story for you. I would never want it lost, never allow it to go to waste. In this world, the people in power ask me, 'Why is it that you sing? Why is it that you are known?' My song I did not just pick up from the pathway, it came from the deepest layer of the earth, from space, from the top of the clouds. A pity this Lentinum, the woman-owner of my song. She sits in front of me, she leads me, Lentinum from sky. 'Mendung,' she instructed me, 'claim it! Tell the story thoroughly. You must continue. Whenever one is angry, make that person happy, give that person something to think about. You must sing every night, you must sing every day!'


"The T'boli songs and music presented here are not primarily meant for entertainment. We'd like to think of these as food for your soul. Tribal cultures are a source of ancient wisdom, a living contact with our Filipino ancestors. Our hope is that this CD will in some small way suggest to you the spirit of ancient Filipino ways."

"Life gains greater meaning when one knows one's roots. As a T'boli scholar, my devout goal is to save whatever T'boli customs and traditions can be saved. It is unfortunate that today, too many T'bolis and Filipinos in general have no real knowledge of where they came from. That is the reason why I have worked hand in hand with artist-shaman Mendung Sabal and artists-producers Grace Nono and Bob Aves of the Tao Foundation for Culture and Arts. We hope to help restore and remind our people of certain values of the true Filipino. No one can stand alone. The different tribes must work together. We must unite to make our dreams come true. We must work hard towards Lemlunay, the paradise."-Myrna Pula

Born in Sitio Lem Bisol, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato, Myrna was baptized a Roman Catholic at the age of ten. She studied at the Notre Dame University in Marbel, South Cotabato, and worked as a religion coordinator at the Sta. Cruz Mission, where she studied T'boli rituals and integrated them with Catholic rites. Since the 1980s Myrna has been working as a researcher for the Research and Information Office of the Sta. Cruz Mission Studies Center, a project of the Diocese of Marbel, South Cotabato. To promote T'boli culture she has traveled to Belgium, England, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and with Mendung to Australia. She has also served as chief informant for the researches on T'boli culture conducted by ethnomusicologist Dr. Manolette Mora.

By Myrna Pula

Lake Sebu has nineteen barangays, two of which are Surrallah, Mendung's home, and Lem Bisol, my home.
In Lake Sebu, we T'bolis co-exist with settlers from different places in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. These people usually arrive in our land one family at a time, asking us for free space, which we typically cannot refuse. They then cultivate farm fields, set up duck and fish pens. They also bring with them items such as lipstick, face powder, and other goods, which they offer to the T'boli on credit. When a T'boli's debt piles up and he/she is unable to pay, the settler takes the land as payment. As soon as this settler acquires one or two hectares of land in the area, he invites relatives to come. This was especially the case when the road was newly opened in the 1970s.
Today, production of corn, palay and vegetables has been reduced due to the entry of settlers, who now occupy about 80 percent of the land. These settlers have not spared the Lake itself; they now own most of the fish cages, not to mention the capital. The T'boli womenfolk help augment the family income with their weaving, although the market for their work is small. They also manage to sell some of their beadwork, but only on consignment basis. There are also small business ventures such as the buying and selling of abaca in Davao. Cows, carabaos, pigs, chickens continue to be raised for consumption. There is no more gold because people from the outside have mined it all.


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