It’s not an everyday opportunity that one gets to immerse his/herself with some indigenous people and get to see how they live their life and what problems they are facing. Many of us are ignorant of what these group of people are experiencing because of our own day to day activities. With the help of Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), the NGO assigned to our group, our group got the chance to experience this opportunity.
We visited an indigenous community, the Aetas that were affected by some mining activities in their ancestral domain in Zambales. It was an enjoyable experience because the community was very welcoming and very helpful. They toured us around their community wherein they have a small school that was built by a partnership of a Japanese and a Philippine company. We got to see how simple they lived their lives and how much they are willing to protect their ancestral domain which they consider as their home. We also got to hike a part of their mountain and it was a first-hand experience on how tiring their life is knowing that they walk around their mountains most of the time.
Although it was only for a short period of time, it was already an eye opener for me that even though they only have a few things, they still make the most out of what they have and just live simply. I learned that they don’t want a lot, they just want to be acknowledged and given the same rights as us who are not members of an indigenous group. They just want to be respected and to be able to have the things, especially their ancestral land, that really belong to them be given to them.