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Bilad Aeta Village
Province:  Tarlac
15° 16.734N   120° 25.182E
Listed in Gallery:   Eco Village

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It's not a tourist spot, but it's an interesting place to visit.......interesting people to meet. If you have not seen our aborigines in their natural habitat this is one opportunity!

It's interesting to observe how they try to balance being isolationists and, at the same time, keep abreast with the latest lowland craze. They have TV's running on 12-V batteries and karaoke too :)

Led by Kapitan Julep, Bilad is an Aeta settlement that is trying to recover from the destruction brought about by the 1991 Mt. Pinatubo "hiccup". Food is scarce and so are many other things we have in abundance down here but it's amazing how cheerful the kids were.

I was brought there by, of all people, Peter Borchers....a German national who acquired Philippine permanent residency status two years ago. He was President of the Pasay Metro Rotary Club at that time, searching for a suitable venue for a club project. He identified Bilad as a beneficiary of the club's school-building project.

To get there, we drove to Patling (Capas, Tarlac), safely parked the cars beside a house owned by the same teacher who was hired by the club to teach at the Aeta School, then took a 3-hour trek in the direction of Mt. Pinatubo.

The trek wasn't that bad as it was summer time. The mud can be annoying during the rainy season. Trailing anyone?

We crossed streams and a few rivers....mostly knee deep. Clear waters, bathing carabaos....quite a view. We met a few Aetas on their way down carrying baskets of rootcrops to be sold at the Capas market.

Solar heat reflected by the lahar can be annoying especially in areas where vegetation have not recovered to provide some shade.

This trip and the second which followed after a couple of months left me with deep thoughts on the subjects of assimilation, isolation, getting left behind, culture , hygiene, etc. Somehow these thoughts are agitating but I'm convinced they're good for the "soul" :)

The missionaries who provided the contact indirectly made it clear that we must be careful in choosing the form of assistance we give. They "shot down" a proposal to drastically introduce "modern hygiene" i.e. teeth-brushing and toothpaste. This led to a quite healthy debate on how lowlanders should deal/treat the highlanders. A very educational encounter. Anthropologists out there?

Peter passed away last January 2005 after a tragic glider accident off Sabang, Mindoro. The one-room schoolbuilding was inaugurated in February 2005.

The school is now named "Peter Borchers Centennial School"

Well, it's time to prepare for the next trip ......

Waypoint narrative by: Eric_Punzalan 2005     follow Eric_Punzalan on Facebook