From Tradition to Taste: Exploring Tibolo Cultural Village

December 31, 2023 Travel

Whenever the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) invites me on their tours, I always look forward to discovering hidden gems that showcase the beauty of local cultures. 

During the recent TPB tour I attended, co-organized by the Davao del Sur Tourism Development and Promotions Office, known as the Domestic Tourism Invitational Program, I had the opportunity to meet members of the Bagobo-Tagabawa community in the Tibolo Cultural Village.

Nestled in the upland barangay of Tibolo in Sta. Cruz, this cultural enclave stands as a testament to the resilience and authenticity of a people deeply rooted in their traditions.


Our visit unfolded like a story, each chapter revealing the intricate details of the Bagobo-Tagabawa's way of life.


The young members of the community, clad in their colorful traditional attire adorned with intricate beaded designs, warmly welcomed us. Mikmik, the youngest member, charmed our group and graciously allowed us to capture his joy through photographs.


Afterwards, they danced to traditional beats, depicting harvest festivities. 

In a world where modernity often overshadows tradition, these dances served as a poignant reminder of the importance of cultural preservation.


Later, Bai Marichie Ayoc, wife of the chieftain of Barangay Tibolo, shared insights into their rituals, old way of life, and their rich culture.


The Bagobo-Tagabawas are integral members of the larger Bagobo ethnic community. Alongside the Bagobo-Klata and the Bagobo-Obo, they represent some of the earliest settlers of Davao.


The history, tradition, and beliefs of the Bagobo-Tagabawa community are woven with a profound reverence for Apo Sandawa. To them, Apo Sandawa, or Mt. Apo, is more than a geographical landmark; it is the resting place of Apo Sandawa, their great-grandparent. 

In Filipino tongues, 'Apo' signifies 'master' or 'grandfather.' 


This majestic mountain not only serves as the foundation of their spiritual and cultural way of life, it also provides sustenance through a continual supply of food and medicine. 


During our visit, Mt. Apo was shrouded in fog, but Bai Marichie mentioned that on a clear day, we could see the mountain from their village.


The highlight of our visit is a culinary journey into the heart of Bagobo-Tagabawa gastronomy. 


The community showcased a masterful preparation of chicken, cooked and tenderized inside a bamboo. This ingenious cooking method not only highlighted their resourcefulness but also echoed their harmonious relationship with nature.


We also enjoyed taro root and leaves cooked in coconut milk, steamed sayote tops, and grilled fish. The meal itself a symphony of flavors, each dish representing a chapter of their history. 


Throughout our entire 6-day stay in Davao del Sur, this experience stood out as the culinary highlight.


The Tibolo Cultural Village also houses a School of Living Traditions—a center specifically built for passing down essential aspects of an indigenous group's culture to younger members. They also offer accommodations.


In addition to the Bagobo-Tigabawa members at Tibolo Cultural Village, we also encountered members of the cultural community at the village of National Living Treasure Salinta Monon (1920-2009) and at Lao Integrated Farms.

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