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Gónô Tmutul:
Creating Spaces for
Meaningful Conversations and Equitable Development

In the village of Lake Sebu, province of South Cotabato, Philippines, live the people who speak the language Tboli—after which they are named—through which they cope with radical change.

Part of this coping is the flow of stories from elders to progeny, guaranteeing to them their sense of who they are, and how change may be met.

A Gonô Tmutul—A House for Storytelling—is being established in Lake Sebu. The project grew out of an unexpected, happy turn of events: the repatriation to the village of the personal Tboli collection of an elderly British woman who lived there as a volunteer teacher about 50 years ago. 

Read more…

Our Inaugural Event

A Festival of Storytelling

Join Us
July 20-21 (Saturday and Sunday)

We are coming together on July 20-21 to tell stories, play music, and eat delicious food, all inspired by the Gónô Tmutul collection of objects and songs.

Friends Who will be joining us

Benjie Manuel

Benjie Manuel is the School Head at Tboli Sebù Senior High School, the first stand-alone senior high school for Department of Education Indigenous Peoples Education (IPEd) program in the country. A culture bearer, cultural worker and an artesanal work advocate.

Myrna Pula

Myrna Pula is a cultural researcher, storyteller and writer. Her Tboli name is Aning and she lives in Lambisol, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato. She has travelled to the the US and Europe to speak about Tboli Culture.

Senduy 'Yê Benie' Nalon

Senduy ‘Yê Benie’ Nalon is a tnalak/Yê Kumù weaver and a storyteller from Lemkwa, Barangay Klubi, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato. Photo courtesy of Craig Diamond

Yab Man

Yab Mann is a GAMABA nominee for ikat dyeing/tnalak weaving from Lem-eley, Brgy. Klubi, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato. Photographed by GABRIEL NIVERA for the April 2024 Issue of Vogue Philippines

Lisa Kuman

Lisa Kuman is a tnalak/Yê Kumù Weaver from Lemkroo, Brgy. Lamdalag, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato. Photographed by GABRIEL NIVERA for the April 2024 Issue of Vogue Philippines

Mechie Belleza

Mechie Belleza is a cultural worker from Lake Sebu, South Cotabato. Photographed by GABRIEL NIVERA for the April 2024 Issue of Vogue Philippines

Marian Pastor Roces

Marian Pastor Roces is an independent curator, cultural critic, and policy analyst. She founded and leads TAOINC, a corporation that curates the establishment of museums and develops exhibitions, parks, and publications.

Ma. Cristina Juan

Maria Cristina Juan is the Project Head of Philippine Studies at SOAS, University of London. 

Where We Will Be

Open field across Gónô Yê Kumu
Bedew Lamdalag

How Gónô Tmutul Began

Gónô Tmutul first began as an academic project that grew as Billie Riley, an Englishwoman who lived and worked in Lake Sebu as a teacher and volunteer in the late ’70’s, approached Dr. Ma. Cristina Juan of SOAS to give back an extraordinary set of objects she collected there.

The recording of the events that took place when she arrived in South Cotabato became material for the 36 minute documentary “Gónô Tmutul: Building a House of Stories”, which has been screened in festivals and conference plenary sessions across Europe and Asia.

Watch the trailer above as a introduction to the film and please follow us on social media to be the first to hear about screenings in your area as well as a planned wider release on Vimeo and YouTube late this year.

Since the time of its film and initial festival showings, the team has been working to establish the place on Lake Sebu where the house of stories will be built while also developing programs and events that will feed the vision of Gónô as a place where Tboli traditions will be nurtured.


We are hoping to raise funds for the building itself and it’s first year of programming.

Visit our Xendit crowdfunding site to contribute! Even the smallest donations are most welcome.

The Collection

Two extraordinary sets of Tnalak woven textiles, beaded and brass jewelry, weapons, and clothing dating from before 1977 comprise the core of the collection. In addition to Billie Riley’s objects, another volunteer Dr. Gervase Hamilton, also sent back his Tboli artefacts though he was too old to make the trip with Billie. 

Also, Myrna Pula has commented that the objects are calling to each other, as several members of the community have been inspired to donate their artefacts, adding to the depth and breadth of objects that the Tboli can use starting points for their own creations and stories.

Featured Objects

Yê Kumù

Yê Kumù handwoven textile made of abaca , dyed with natural colors (red, black, natural white) woven in three sections, suitable for a wedding or sacred feasts.

Sloung Knibang

A handwoven hat covering made of red cotton cloth appliqued with white and blue cotton pieces

Brass Figurines

6 Brass figurines depictingg a woman with child, a pregnant woman with child, a woman giving birth with man and woman helping, 2 men and a woman in a boat, a man playing hegelung and woman playing bamboo guitar, a man with dog on his back.


An unfinished necklace made of small beads, brass chainlink and horsehair chainlink