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2 Ayta Communities in Bataan receive Aid, Secures Food Amid COVID-19

BALANGA CITY, June 4 (PIA) — Two Ayta communities in Bataan were provided with relief assistance by National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) as they continue to secure food resources amid the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in the country.

Ayta Ambala and Ayta Magbukun Indigenous Cultural Communities (ICCs) in the province recently benefitted from the food assistance of NCIP in coordination with the respective local government units including the provincial government of Bataan.

“With the assistance coming from private sectors and individuals, we were also able to distribute sacks of rice, poultry and other goods to selected family,” NCIP Regional Director Ruben Bastero revealed in a statement.

NCIP was able provide relief assistance to 1,223 Indigenous Peoples (IPs) households in the province, while each family within the area were also given cooked meals as part of the feeding program of the provincial government.

“Together with the help of our Tribal Councils through the coordination with the Tribal Chieftains and Indigenous Peoples Mandatory Representatives, we were be able to access information and provide updates from and to each ICCs,” he stressed.

Bastero added that Ayta IPs in the province are continuously achieving food security and maintaining food sovereignty for their communities despite the health crisis as some aspects of their indigenous livelihood systems are retained, while some of mainstream approaches to agriculture were adopted.

“Some ‘gasak’ or traditional farms are planted with lowland crop varieties with minimal inputs. They rely on the rain thus the ‘gahak’ and all economic systems are still governed by their indigenous seasonal calendar. Produce mainly supplies the demand of the community for food and any surplus is directly either sold to neighboring communities and common trading posts at urban and municipal centers,” he explained.

Moreover, the two Ayta communities are still utilizing and managing natural resources found in their ancestral domains to ensure food security and mitigate the effects of the pandemic.

Bastero said both Ayta communities gather honey or ‘panilan’ which serves as their food or source of livelihood during ‘maumot,’ a term used by Ayta Magbukun for summer time. Ayta Magbukun gathering is governed by ‘Mamakan’ or the practice of thanking and offering first to the spirit taking care of the resource.

On the other hand, Ayta Ambala observes the culture of ‘Magyamyam’ which requires the gatherer to express his or her gratitude to the spirit who provided the honey.

“Unlike mainstream approaches, the Ayta IPs observe and practice their Indigenous Knowledge, Systems and Practices [IKSP] in utilizing this important community resource to ensure sustainability and instill inter-generational responsibility,” Bastero furthered. (CLJD/MJSD-PIA 3)


Official Website of National Commission on Indigenous Peoples Region III