Text and Photos by Euden Valdez
“Takot kami dati sa mga Unat.”
This was an overheard statement from an Aeta from an upland community in Limay, Bataan during a group’s Christmas outreach. The elderly woman was referring to lowlanders or Filipinos outside their tribe. Unat is a Filipino word that means someone with straight hair, that differentiate them from Aetas who have curly hair.
We can’t blame these Aetas, or any other indigenous tribes in the country, for harboring fear toward their fellow Filipinos who have periodically abused and displaced them in the past and even to this day.
A lot has changed, many indigenous peoples (IPs) are now more accepting of us and our ways. Still, it remains our obligation to show these marginalized and underprivileged tribes that they can trust us, and that they can rely on us.
This can be done by reaching out to them more and by uplifting their lives through our own little yet creative ways big or small, and through random acts of kindness whenever possible.
In this principle and in the spirit of Christmas, outdoor and volunteerism group RAK Ph Mountaineers held its Pasko Fiesta 2018 for the very same Aetas of Sitio Aryada in Limay, Bataan last December 22.
And despite a looming Low Pressure Area, the duration of the outreach was saved from rain allowing the group to conduct the activities atop an open hill. Filled with passion and inspiration, we set forth with RAK Pasko Fiesta 2018 for the 27 Aeta households composed of elders, couples, teens, children and even newborns!
The Aeta community of Sitio Aryada lives remotely and off-the-grid in Bataan. After hours of driving to the jump-off point, a 30- to 40-minute walk ensued to reach them. But upon arrival, no time was wasted and RAK members went to set up. Others laid out the clothes to be donated, while some fixed a makeshift roof for a small activity area.
Soon, lunch were given to the kids who pledged to throw their trash properly. Their reward for this conscious effort would be toys.
Through our donors, we were able to give used—but not abused—clothes and footwear to our Aeta beneficiaries. There were more than enough for everyone, and for all ages and genders. These humble items felt like luxury goods to their new owners.
Then it was time for a true fiesta filled with games, prizes and toys for the kids of course. RAK ates and kuyas creatively came up with games that relied on the surroundings.
We are also very thankful once again to our generous sponsors, Jollibee Food Corp. for the toy packs and Benby Enterprises Inc. for the candies the kids.
In true RAK tradition, we once again held the Pasko Fiesta gift-giving wherein all team members prepare a gift for one household. The family personally receives this gift, who then returns our small gesture in their own little ways. This year, we were given freshly grown and unearthed ginger for their exchange gift.
Before we ended, there were plenty of bread from Gilmaries Bakery for meryenda or take home snacks. The hopia baboy was a hit for both the Aetas and us.
We hope that with our humble Pasko Fiesta 2018, we can further break grounds toward a beautiful relationship between us and our country’s indigenous peoples. We hope to make a mark into the lives our Aeta partners, and to be connected with them now and in the future.
is a former dyarista, now digitista who has been writing whenever the tides, the winds, the earth take her somewhere familiar, somewhere new.