The Tau Mokoyo (Woodcarvers) of Lake Sebu

“What is happening to Joel and his business inspires me. I dream of the day I will be able to put up my own business and help other Tau Mokoyo (woodcarvers), just like what he did.” – Datu Rudy Dasan

Kuya Joel and Datu Rudy met in Tboli Sbu Senior Highschool. It was through an IP education project that gave space for the Tboli youth to discover their culture and traditions that they first learned about each other and their craft. Both were culture bearers and teachers within the program. Joel shared about Tboli brasscasting, and Datu Rudy imparted knowledge about wood carving to the youth of Lake Sebu.

Datu Rudy Lake Sebu

Just like how Joel learned the art of Temwel (brasscasting), Datu Rudy came to know of his craft while he was still young. At the age of 7, his Ma (father) took him as an apprentice and together they made wooden keychains and other handmade products that were sold as trinkets and souvenirs. Following their tradition, the Tau Mokoyo are also the makers of the hegalung (a two-stringed musical instrument), klung (shield), and kafilan (knife/bolo) sheath among the Tboli.

The pandemic has brought the Tau Mokoyo’s livelihood to a challenging time. Since the tourism industry is at a virtual standstill in Lake Sebu, Datu Rudy expressed that he experienced a large drop in sales. He is only able to sell just a quarter of what he used to.

Handmade wooden laptop stand from lake sebu

The Hgelem Nawa (Be Strong) Gift Bundle is a symbol of how the community of Tboli artists are in solidarity with each other to face this crisis. Datu Rudy hopes that through this collaboration with Sesotunawa, he and his community of woodcarvers can also begin to build their own community enterprise.