(A visit in an indigenous people's community, April 16, 2015)
Date of trip: April 16, 2015

To keep the culture is also to keep the nation alive.

As part of the cultural exposure of some American volunteers, we went to an Aeta Community in Sitio Kanawan, Barangay Binaritan, Morong Bataan. Aeta, or Agta, is one of the many indigenous groups within the Philippine archipelago. Commonly, they are situated in the north-eastern parts of the country, in the island of Luzon. They are traditionally hunters and gatherers which make them one of the most skilled in terms of jungle survival, not just in the Philippines, but as well as worldwide (Peoples of the World). These jungle survival skills of the Aetas were maximized by the US Military during their war with Vietnam. American soldiers were trained by the Aetas to hone their survival skills in different mountainous and forested areas in a tropical region before they go to Vietnam (Peoples of the World).

This jungle survival skill was something that we also witnessed when we went to the Aeta community in Kanawan. Kuya Billy, one of the members of the tribe, showed us how to set a fire without using any gasoline, match or lighter. He just used bamboo shavings, and pieces of short bamboo poles. After setting the fire, he then showed us how to cook sinigang (a type of Filipino delicacy) and rice inside a bamboo pole, and finally showed us how to eat using improvised plates and utensils made of bamboo.  The tribe also showcased a kind of ethnic dance that exhibits the agricultural practices of the tribe.

During our brief stay in the community, I was able to talk with the Sir Rudy Tamundog, the current chieftain of the tribe as of this writing. He has served the head of their community for 7 years already. According to him, he can still stay as the head of their tribe as long as their people still wants him as their leader. In the event that the people don’t want him anymore, a selection process for the next chieftain will be done using  grains of corn (maize).

Sir Rudy also mentioned that the Aeta communities within the province of Bataan belong to the Magbukon Tribe. Magbukon, he added, is also the name of their local language. However, due to modernization and their interaction with non-Aetas, this language is not commonly used anymore. Most of them, especially the younger generations, use Tagalog in their daily conversations and transactions.

Marriages with non-Aetas also have an influence not just with the overall appearance of the people in the community, but also to their belief systems, and to their culture in general. Let us just hope that even with these changes in the dynamics of their community, they could still conserve their culture, not just for the whole Aeta community, but for all the Filipinos as well.

When we left, we took nothing but pictures, we left nothing but memories.

Additional notes:

  • Prior to your visit, pls coordinate with the local government unit of Binaritan through the Municipal Government of Morong.
  • Pls be sensitive enough when dealing with the members of the community. They may take some jokes as derogatory and offensive.
Travel Guide    
Route Mode of Transportation Estimated Travel Time
Victory Terminal (Cubao) to Olongapo City Bus (Olongapo Bound) 3.5 hours
Olongapo City to SBMA Gate 2 Jeep 5 minutes
SBMA Gate 2 to Morong, Bataan* Jeep or Mini Bus 45 minutes
Morong, Bataan to Hanging Bridge  Tricycle 15 minutes
Hanging Bridge to Kanawan (Aeta Community) Foot 20 minutes
*Uphill Road going to BTPI (with signage)

 

Estimated Budget (in Philippine Peso)  
Transportation  
Cubao to Olongapo 207
Olongapo to SBMA Gate 2 8
SBMA to Morong (Poblacion) 45
BTPI Signage to Hanging Bridge 40
Total for Transportation (one way) 300
Food 250*
Simple token to the community 500**
*the meals in Morong are really cheap but if ever you decide to just have your meals in SBMA, then, it will be more expensive
**simpple snacks will do such as cupcakes and juices

Some photos at the community:

the hanging bridge at the start of the trail
the hanging bridge at the start of the trail
the hanging bridge which is in the initial portion of  the trail
the hanging bridge which is in the initial portion of the trail
A typical Aeta house
A typical Aeta house
a tribal dance on farming practices
a tribal dance on farming practices
Kuya Billy showing how to cook using bamboo
Kuya Billy showing how to cook using bamboo
Kuya Billy  showing how to cut a bamboo properly
Kuya Billy showing how to cut a bamboo properly
Children playing  with their visitors
Children playing with their visitors
Mr. Domingo Maingat, the oldest man at the Aeta Community, who was 90 years old during our visit
Mr. Domingo Maingat, the oldest man at the Aeta Community, who was 90 years old during our visit
Melissa, one of our volunteers with children in the community
Melissa, one of our volunteers with children in the community

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