Visiting Lamlifew Village Museum in Sarangani Province
I have seen various traditions, practices, and ways of life in my many years of traveling. However, since most of the places I have been to are very big cities, I rarely experience a smaller, more close-to-nature way of life and culture. And in my visit to Sarangani Province along with PHILTOA members, I was able to finally see these firsthand.
After visiting Lemlunay Dive Center in Maasim, Sarangani, we proceeded to Malungon to visit one of the most important tribal villages in Mindanao, the Lamlifew Village Museum.
People who want to visit Lamlifew can choose to either hike for an hour, or walk for five minutes and cross a river. Our group chose the latter option.
Just like our visit to the other T’boli villages, we were welcomed warmly in the Blaan tribal community. A group of Blaan children serenaded us with traditional songs, while another group performed a local folk dance as we neared the center of the Village Museum.
The Lamlifew Village Museum is, just as the name suggests, a small museum housed in a small village located in Malungon, Sarangani province. The museum is the only one of its kind in the Philippines. It is not as grandiose as what most people’s perception of a museum is, but within its rectangular and humble bamboo-and-rattan enclave is a treasure that the people of Lamlifew are proud of — their culture.
The first thing that we saw when we went inside the museum were the displays of antique Blaan attire, one for a woman and another for a man. Beside that were ancient weapons and the accessories that came with the attires.
There was a platform inside the museum, and we were told that it is where the women gather to do their beadworks. The museum does not only function as a gallery to exhibit the Blaan culture, but also as a cultural center where the locals could gather to create beautiful beadworks.
After the museum, we proceeded to the weaving center, which was just nearby. The B’laan produce hand-woven abaca fiber tapestries called Tabih. Batches of these, with their intricate, layered designs, were displayed in the small gallery near the weaving center. Also in display were beaded jewelries and other accessories made from beads.
We were able to watch the Lamlifew women weave live. They worked in a very delicate process that no machine could ever replicate. We were told that each design had a deeper meaning, and I found it very interesting how the locals were able to pass on the weaving tradition from one generation after the next. The village was only a small one, and the museum was not large or air-conditioned, like the ones we usually see in big, urbanized cities, yet I felt like the B’laan way of life was so preserved, intact, and pure… I contemplated on these as we sampled local treats for lunch.
How to get to Lamlifew Village Museum
Lamlifew is reachable via a motorcycle or tricycle. A minibus from the capital city Alabel from General Santos City is preferable for people who wish to travel in groups. A jeepney can also be used to get to the nearest point from the village, and the ride on the way is more open and fun. A jeepney ride takes about 30-45 minutes depending on the time of the year. Prior to your visit, please contact Laarnie Lumbos Espra (+63-998-537-9513) or Maribeth Ditan (+63-975-486-3996).