The Tboli are one of the indigenous peoples of South Cotabato in Southern Mindanao. From the body of ethnographic and linguistic literature on Mindanao they are variously known as Tboli, T'boli, Tböli, Tiboli, Tibole, Tagabili, Tagabeli, and Tagabulu. They term themselves Tboli or T'boli. Their whereabouts and identity is to some extend confused in the literature; some publications present the Tboli and the Tagabili as distinct peoples; some locate the Tbolis to the vicinity of the Lake Buluan in the Cotabato Basin or inAgusan del Norte. The Tbolis, then, reside on the mountain slopes on either side of the upper Alah Valley and the coastal area of Maitum, Maasim and Kiamba. In former times, the Tbolis also inhabited the upper Alah Valley floor. After World War Two, i.e., since the arrival of settlers originating from other parts of the Philippines, they have been gradually pushed onto the mountain slopes. As of now, they are almost expelled from the fertile valley floor.
The Tboli have a musical heritage consisting of various types of agung ensembles – ensembles composed of large hanging, suspended or held, bossed/knobbed gongs which act as drone without any accompanying melodic instrument.
A T'boli legend tells that the T'boli are descendants of the survivors of a great flood. A man named Dwata warned the people of an impending great flood. But the tribe refused to listen, except for two couples, La Bebe and La Lomi, and Tamfeles and La Kagef. Dwata told them to take shelter in a bamboo so huge they could fit inside and in this way survive the flood. The story tells that the first couple is the ancestors of the T'boli and other highland ethnic groups, the second couple descended the other Filipino indigenous groups.
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