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Aetas in the City (Mga Ati sang Dacal, San Enrique)

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The Aetas are indigenous people in the Philippines. They are characterized by their dark skin and curly hair. They are said to be the early inhabitants of the island of Panay. According to history, they went up the mountains after the Bornean Datus led by Datu Puti came leading to the Barter of Panay with the Ati chieftain named Marikudo.
These group of Aetas or Ati belongs to the Dacal Ati Association in Brgy. Dacal, San Enrique. It was the first time for most of these kids to visit the City of Iloilo and experience most of the activities such as using the escalator and elevators. A project of iSERVE (Integrated Services for Education and Volunteer Efforts) in coordination with the LGU of the Municipality of San Enrique under the leadership of Mayor Ramona Go, Dulhog
Para sa Paskua 2015 is on its first year. Aside from it’s being a Christmas treat for them, the event also served expose them to a different environment.

They visited the Iloilo Provincial Capitol and the Casa Real. It is where most of them took their first elevator ride. They coined the term magic “kwarto” (magic room) for it. They had a view of the city from the fifth floor. It was a learning experience for them since the majority of them have been exposed to some things which are often taken for granted by many such as flushing the toilet, the use of soap dispenser and the likes. From there, the group proceeded to Martinelee’s Pit Stop for lunch.

The afternoon’s activity was such a blast. The group went to SM City Iloilo for their first malling experience. They said that it was quite cold inside. The mall management was kind enough to allow the group to use the Activity Center. Pictures were taken onstage with the Christmas display as backdrop. Everybody had a chance to ride the train with the assistance of the personnel of SM Storyland. Christmas gifts were also distributed to them.
The next stop was the Iloilo Esplanade. The walk from one end to the other was not really tiring for them since they are accustomed to walking long distance. The kids were wondering where the river goes to and how deep it was. Finally, it was time to go back home to San Enrique.

It is hoped that in December 2016 the Aetas from the two other communities in the town can also participate. Sponsors for the project includes Lenly Dungog Irasusta, Francis Ian Lopez, Mary Castillano, Cylin and Claud Rex Galicia, Paul Andrew Wee, Donald C. Ganancial, Fernan Ordonio, Nishel, Mary Grace Yap Seng-Gil, Grace Junsay, Dolores Mandario Iguiron, Andres Ortega, Anthony and Carolynne Cabrera, Harriet Torrico, Philip Andrew Gonzales, Helen Montano, Kathryn Claver Suresca, Leo Martinez, Glecy Depamaylo and Zirah Reyes Hernando. The Dacal Ati Sustainable Community Development Project had just started and any support or assistance is welcomed. The project will include home gardening, literacy and life skills classes, livelihood trainings, health and sanitation activities.

Written by: Mazel Mary Jeongco