The t’nalak, is a traditional cloth woven on a backstrap loom by the T’boli women of Lake Sebu in South Cotabato, Mindanao. Here, the indigenous weavers continue this tedious, age-old practice involving the ikat method while using natural dyes and abaca plant fibers that are indigenous to the Philippines. Often called “dream weavers,” these women design the patterns from dreams which serve as mental images. These dreams can be of their own, those handed down from ancestors or those bestowed on them by Fu Dalu, the spirit of the abaca.

T’boli women continue to dream, but instead of t’nalak patterns they dream of a better life.

Today, the T’boli women continue to dream, but instead of t’nalak patterns they dream of a better life. Over 70% of people living in Lake Sebu from the city of South Cotabato are living below the poverty
line and many rely on a hand-to-mouth existence. Parents are unable to feed their families regularly and children are unable to go to school.

One Weave, One Dream, serves as a catalyst in alleviating the T’boli women and their families from poverty while at the same time, safeguarding their traditions.


When looked at closely, the t’nalak is a viable source of income for the T’boli. However, there are various factors today that affect the current production of the t’nalak from issues with raw materials, reaching markets to even basic knowledge on business and commerce. If executed correctly, the stimulation of the waning production of the t’nalak can provide the weavers with additonal income
to alleviate them from poverty.

Some of the current challenges include:

  • Poverty Level
  • Alternative Production Methods
  • Unavailability of Raw Materials
  • Dwindling Numbers of Younger Weavers
  • Limited Distribution Channels


One Weave, One Dream has its beginnings as an MFA Graphic Design thesis, created and developed by Erin Canoy. In an attempt to reconnect with her roots, this project not only promotes Philippine indigenous culture, but expresses the sweet spot where design and social good collide.

What started out as a hypothetical project, One Weave, One Dream has fulfilled its purpose by connecting T’boli women with interested individuals and organizations. Please continue to help us by spreading the word.

To learn more about the story behind this project, visit www.erincanoy.com or send us a message at info@one-weave.org.