The Tboli art of beadwork or Timool Lemimet is a tradition that has been kept alive by the Tboli over the years. Like each bead strung in a thread, this indigenous knowledge and skill connects one generation of Tau Lemimet (Tboli Beader) to another.
For our first Kwentong Pamana, we share with you how Nancy Kagi, a Tboli Beader for more than 30 years, learned and mastered the Tboli art of beadwork.
Be (Lola) Nancy, who is now 54 years old, recalls how she ended up learning Timool Lemimet and how it changed her and her family.
“Even before, there were already Tboli women in our community who were engaged in beadwork. But I did not pay attention to it until I already had my own family. Life was very challenging then. My husband only relied on fishing in order to provide for our daily needs. Most of the time, this was not enough, especially when I had my first child.
The hardship we went through became my motivation to learn Timool Lemimet. I told myself, "Kailangan may ara man ko bulig sa akon bana." (I need to find a way to help my husband.)
In those days, most beaders in our community purchased their beads and other materials from the Sta. Cruz Mission, a religious organization working in the community of Lake Sebu. The beaders were paid a fee for every lieg (necklace) or beketut (earrings) that they finished. My distant relative and neighbor, Ate Yuning, brought me to Sta. Cruz Mission and introduced me to other beaders. I first started learning by just observing them. Ate Yuning, who was very helpful, showed me how to create designs that were more intricate and complicated than the others.
It was not easy learning Timool Lemimet. You had to be very patient. It was even harder back then because we had to do it without the needles. We only used threads that we stiffened with wax. Discarded radio batteries were very important to us. We collected them and broke them so we could get the wax inside. This was cheaper than buying beeswax.
My skills in Timool Lemimet helped me and my family. I got paid 25 pesos for every 14-line necklace that I finished. In a week, I was able to produce 3 necklaces. With my 75 pesos, I was able to buy rice and other basic needs. Every time I worked at home, my children were also around to help me. It felt good to see that we are all working together to help our family.
When I think about my experience, I can't help but feel grateful. I tell myself, "Nami gali ning may ara ka sang talent. Tungod sa akon pag beads, hindi lang ko mag salig sa akon bana, makabulig pagid ko sa iya kag sa akon pamilya." (It's good to have this talent because it not only gave me a sense of independence, but it also allowed me to help my husband and family.)
This story is translated from our interview with Be Nancy Kagi. She is now 54 years old and continues to practice the Tboli tradition of Timool Lemimet