SBMA sets more projects for Aeta communities | SubicNewsLink

27 October 2011

SBMA sets more projects for Aeta communities

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) is planning more livelihood projects for the Aeta tribes in this free port zone to help boost the income of the tribesmen and promote economic development among the indigenous communities here.

This was announced by SBMA officials on Wednesday, as the Subic authority joined the nation in celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Month, which aims to recognize the unique culture and contributions to the society of the various native tribes in the country.

According to Armie Llamas, SBMA public relations manager, the agency has lined up various activities for the Aetas in this free port, such as an “immersion” activity with Aeta children.

The week-long program, she said, would also include a movie-viewing project to benefit Grade 1 students from the Aeta communities of Pastolan and Kanawan.

More important, the SBMA has set up programs for the Aetas that would go “even beyond the IP Week” and help boost the income of the ethnic communities here.

“We have set up some livelihood projects for them so that they may have some alternative sources of income. Our Aeta tribes have favored bead-making as one livelihood project, kasi mahilig sila sa mga accessories. And they really earn from them,” Llamas noted.

Knette Fernando, the SBMA deputy administrator for corporate communications, said the SBMA has provided assistance to Pastolan and Kanawan villages, as well as the Mampuweng, Limuran, Iram and New Cabalan tribes in Olongapo City, as part of the agency’s corporate social responsibility.

“We hold the Aeta people in high regard,” Fernando said. “They are the guardians of our forests and the stewards of the land. We base our knowledge about the forests on their natural skills to protect the land.”

She also noted that SBMA Chairman Roberto Garcia has a soft spot for the Aetas. “This is why he always extends his assistance for their needs — food augmentation, calamity assistance, etcetera. He always makes it a point to help them,” she said.

Llamas, who coordinates agency projects with local IP communities, also pointed out that the SBMA respects the Aetas’ authority over their ancestral land, which are located inside the free port zone.

“The SBMA is just the manager of the land, but the IP’s are the ones who own them. Even if the (SBMA) board had approved a project, but when the IP’s say no, then it won’t materialize. That’s how important they are to us,” she added. (SBMA Corporate Communications)

Aeta tribesmen from the Pastolan village in the Subic Bay Freeport perform a native dance during the celebration of the Indigenous People’s Week.