Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Aeta Experience


My site project is over. It was a success, for the most part. I knew in my own mind things that could’ve been done differently to make the event better. I’ve accepted that..sort of.

Of course, the success of the project is mostly due to the SK (youth development officer of Duale, Limay) and so the project’s success and future sustainability belongs to him. And as long as the community gains empowerment out of the activity and the seeds for a sustainable project, the project was a success. That’s the most important thing.

We went into the uplands of Duale where the Aetas live. Up, up, up the muddy inclines that seem unwilling to allow the white department of agriculture truck with its seven plus passengers, four standing in the bed of the truck, hanging onto the roof rack giddy and bright-eyed despite their ages (25, 25, 48 and 55). My cluster group was all enjoying the chance to see what other projects the department of agriculture in Duale. We saw several locations where only a field of tree stumps stood above ravines of eroded land.


The date is an anagram. And I feel like I've been turned inside out and backwards and still nothing has changed (for the better). Too tired to write anything else.


(Entry from 6/5/06 continued)
The tree farm in the hills we stopped to meet a groundskeeper for Dept Ag. The Dept Ag person that we were traveling with to see some sites for reforestation needed to stop there first. It was the firstauthentic Aeta home that I'd seen...removed from a community and without any modern conveniences.

The groundskeeper was an Aeta gentleman with a smile a wide and tight as a raised sail. He waved us into his Neba hut. This must be how Aeta’s truly lived once, I thought. There was a dried mud shelf in the corner serving as the fire pit inlayed with wide flat gray rocks for cooking. There were five shy children with big brown eyes, wavy and straight brown hair standing around expectantly, waiting for us to do something “typically American”.

There were two rice bags on the floor of the kitchen/dining room, where flies were landing and taking off like a ferris wheel. Two boys sat by the bags holding flower patterned dinner plates filled with white rice and some kind of meat in a brown sauce, probably bangong baboy (pork sauted in a shrimp and soy sauce marinade).

The adjoining room had two long poster reproductions of Chinese paintings with red flowers, birds and bamboo trees. There was a bedroom across the room on an elevated platform of mud, shielded behind a bamboo railing. Straw mats with blankets of various colors lie crumpled still in the same positions their sleepy occupants had left them early that morning as they left to attend to kitchen and house chores.

The children were all under eleven and thin. The boys continued eating when we came in but the two youngest girls stood near us holding onto a supporting beam staring at use through down-cast eyes.

The mother was excited to meet us and chattered on about us (in Tagalog) to the Dept of Ag person we came with, a man whose name escapes me.


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