Young T'boli women garbed in traditional and colorful costumes participate in the festival along the Guma mountain range.
Majority of province's tribes gather together in the celebration. Lem-lunay features the convergence of six major tribes of South Cotabato, namely T'boli, Ubo, Manobo, Kalagan, Maguindanao, and Tasaday, joined with ethnic group representatives from Davao namely, Tirurays, Mandaya, Surigao tribes, Langilan, Bilaan, Bagog, and Mansaka.
The festival started with just a small town fiesta in the celebration of the Sta. Cruz feast day. Yet, came the era of the 70s, this religious feast merged with the features of the thanksgiving rituals of the T'bolis known as the Mo-inum. In the final day of the three-day festival, a commemorative mass is held that features a unique combination of Catholicism and the ethnicity of the T'bolis.
This festival was from the belief of the T'Boli in a golden age that they called Lemlunay which means "the good place one goes to in the afterlife". The word "Lemlunay" is a sort of Camelot or paradise that they would like to make for their tribe. It is when the people there reenergize and renew their vow to work for this coveted state of life.
The T'boli are one of the indigenous peoples of 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 in Agusan del Norte.
The T'bolis, 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.
Like their immediate tribal neighbors, the Úbûs, Blàan, Blit, Tàú-Segél and, for those who have serious doubts in the hoax argumentation, the Tasaday, they have been variously termed hill tribes, pagans, animists, etc., as opposed to the indigenous Muslim peoples or the Christian settlers. In political contexts, however, the termLumad groups (derived from the Cebuano term for native people) has become popular as a generic term for the various indigenous peoples of Mindanao.