Text and Photos By Euden Valdez
IN our archipelago of 7,641 islands, there live indigenous peoples (IP) of distinct ethnicity and languages. In fact, there are about 80 ethno-linguistic groups, each with their own distinct culture, traditions and heritage.
To bring understanding, appreciation and respect toward IPs, October has been proclaimed as the National Indigenous Peoples Month in the Philippines. Every year during the IP Month, their unique identities and their ways of life are celebrated all over the country. Dayaw Festival, lead by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts, is one such celebration, which the province of Capiz is hosting this year.
Traveling Journo Ph is one in honoring and recognizing our fellow IPs this month.
Last March, this author got the chance to homestay with the Agta of Palaui Island in Cagayan province. The IPs, whose ancestors were the original dwellers of the island, live at a community in Punta Verde. They co-inhabit with Ilocanos from all over Cagayan, as well as welcome visitors of their island, which has become a famous tourist destination in Northern Philippines.
Meet some of the Agta of Punta Verde:
Erik Agcoali and his children. Kuya Erik opened his home for TJPh last March, along with RAK Ph Mountaineers.
The little boys finding fun in what was supposed to be an errand.
The youngest in the big brood of Kuya Erik taking a peak from the inside of their house, as a girl gives a beautiful smile outside.
A mother and daughter in the neighbors doing their morning laundry.
Lola may be old but she is out and about to catch some mud crab. Her DIY backpack is where her catch will be kept before it is taken home for lunch or dinner.
Ah, youth! These teenage boys accompanied TJPh and her companions to Cape Engaño, the island’s most famous tourist spot.
Guiding visitors has become a source of income for some members of the Agta community in Punta Verde.
The following photos were taken during summer. During the rainy season, tides and fortunes had shifted for the Agta of Palaui Island.
Sadly, their community in Punta Verde has been badly hit by Super Typhoon Ompong (international name Mangkhut) last September.
They are are in need of help and support in rebuilding their homes and their lives. If you wish to help, message RAK Ph Mountaineers in Facebook, or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.