Sebalang is a musical genre performed by the Tboli of South Cotabato during courtship and marriage.
Sebalang is performed during the moninum (marriage negotiation ceremony). In contrast to the seguyun, the sebalang is performed by two pairs, each consisting of a man and woman.
One pair plays the slagi setang (gong ensemble) while the other plays the t’nonggong ne kasal (drum and percussion sticks). Dancers also accompany the performance of the pairs as they play two different tempos at the same time.
The other aspects of the moninum (marriage negotiation ceremony) is also characterized by competitions which play out the tensions between the family of the bride and the groom.
Men from each family participate in setolu (singing debates) to negotiate on wealth exchange. They also hold seket kuda (ritual horse fights) to symbolize the polar opposites between the family of the bride and the groom.
Ultimately, however, the moninum is an instrumental ceremony through which they recognize and affirm the bond between their communities.
Text and poster by the Ethnology Division National Museum of the Philippines