Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Aeta Indigenous Tribe - Dinalupihan, Bataan

Hey everyone,

I'd like all of you to take a look at this project in the Philippines. This is really a fine example of a program dedicated to giving back to the community.

        "Salamat Iskwelahang Pilipino Rondalla, 
                        looking forward to your visit in Bataan."

10 days ago, my aunt, Tita Naty, came back from Bataan after attending the Bayan-Bayanan Elementary School graduation. That day, 16 of the students graduating. Of the 110 student in grades one to six, about 30 of them are Aeta. Naty had a lunch meeting with the Comm. Evelyn, principal, teachers, barangay captain, and parent leaders to discuss the proposed program. After hearing that our group would be performing and that my school, Andover Phillips Academy, would be one of the benefactors for the program, they were very excited. Ethel, my cousin, wrote on manila paper the following texts (picture above), which the school children said in chorus:
"Hello Andover Phillips Academy South East Asian Group"
 "Hello Abbot Grant Board", "Hello Catholic Fellowship Group"
 "Hello Dr. Mary Kantor"
 "Salamat Iskwelahang Pilipino Rondalla, looking forward to your visit in Bataan". 

First of all, who are the Aeta people?
"The Aetas is an indigenous mountain tribe in the Philippines - one of the few remaining "hunter-gatherer" societies in the world today. Due to their physical features, nomadic way of life and traditional religious beliefs, the Aetas have long been marginalized, exploited and discriminated by the majority “low-land,” Christianized communities. Majority of these Aetas are uneducated and do not have the skills needed to get employed and survive in modern societies. With their frail and malnourished bodies, Aeta children typically walk 14 kilometers from their mountain encampments to the nearest public school in the lowland communities just to get an education. Trekking along treacherous mountain terrains, slippery roads and empty stomach takes a toll on these children: 10 out of 50 school children who enter elementary school actually graduate and enter high school. Only a small handful has a chance of graduating from high school."  

Food Distribution to Aeta Children

What's been done?

Through Values Education and Skills Training (VEST) Foundation, Inc., non-profit organization, the Aeta children of Barangay Bayan-Bayanan, Dinalupihan, Bataan will be provided a Half Way Home and Feeding Program. The primary goal of the program is to encourage more Aeta School children to finish elementary school and high school education by providing a halfway home and food during school days. 

What will we be doing in Bataan?

Thanks to my aunts in the Philippines who helped coordinate this program, our IP Rondalla tour group will attend a 1/2 day cultural immersion program at the Aeta community where we will participate in music performances, symbolic tree planting ritual, and gift giving. 

The principal and teachers also requested to have 8 sets of TV and DVDs for the classrooms. The new teaching approach now in elementary schools is through e-learning/e-knowledge with a lot of educational videos, so we will try to donate for their cause. 

It enlightens me that IP Rondalla will be taking the time to visit these kids who have been deprived of these basic necessities we Americans sometimes disregard. I'm glad we can make a difference in these people's lives. So let's see these kids graduate!

For more information, visit the VEST Foundation website at:

Sierra Jamir


  1. Very very good effort, noble, meaningful and Christian act especially created this Holy Week and your mom's birthday. The symbolic tree planting has to be expounded: tree represents love of nature and protection of the environment; it is source of educational materials - papers and pencils; gives food and shelter and jobs, etc. Most importantly, the trees the IP kids will plant will be taken cared of and nurtured by the aeta and local kids to serve as inspiration and hope of a brighter future. It symbolizes the beginning of cultural awareness/discovery and friendship to be nurtured.They will always look at how these trees grow rapidly and so are they, trying to get education and improve their lives and living conditions. In 5 to 10 years, the IP kids could wonder how these trees grew so tall and sturdy, strengthening the tie that binds two culturally-divergent students of Filipino heritage, and hopefully perpetuate and sustain a continuing program for them. How about donating old/second hand toys, clothes, reading materials from your closets? What a way for the IP kids to be a blessing to other less fortuhate children!

  2. These are all great posts, Sierra! Thanks for putting this together. It's great to see the signs welcoming the rondalla so far in advance!