Living the Mangyan way

I am posing a question: “What do you think it will look like if were not colonized by the Spaniards?”

Thinking all  possible answers, I would assume that I don’t have  the concept of computer, internet and blogging. Maybe, I am not able to understand nor write English. And I am less hygienic (Eww) and not gay, absolutely not a homosexual.

Giving satisfaction of this query, then I am giving  scenarios to help you imagine how it will look like if we are not once colonized. Definitely,  my experiences with these Indigenous People will provide with you  answers on the above-mentioned question. I hope I can describe it justly.

Mangyan: A native tribe

The mountains  of Abra de Ilog, Occidental Mindoro are inhabited  by the  Mangyans. Extensive tribal settlements of Mangyan in the municipality belong to sub-group known  Iraya. The Mangyans are simple people. They  have that dark skin and curly hairs but some of them have straight hairs.  History revealed that they were once coastal dwellers driven into the mountains to avoid religious conversion by the Spaniards, raids by Moro pirates, and the influx of recent migrants.

Municipal Hall
The Municipal Hall of Abra de Ilog, Occidental Mindoro

The travel

It is our goal to reach the native’s community. Maybe you  are wondering what’s with this travel? Well, I am part of that government project which advocates the right of these  Indigenous People.

So lets start then.

At early dawn, I think that was 4:00 in the morning when  we started the  journey.Tiring and sweaty, these two words are just few to describe our travel to Sitio Lagnas, Lumangbayan Abra de Ilog,  where a community of Iraya exists.

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Our team climbing this mountain at early dawn. Extreme.

On the way, there are hills after hills, mountain after mountain. The walking and hiking is something new  we have to endure.  After hours of travel, the sun had started to climb to its zenith and  we felt terribly hot and totally exhausted. We are craving for cold water and of course for a rest. To add the agony, the heat of the  sun is burning our skin. But we have to move on, there’s no room of turning back.

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Though the travel is tough, yet we have that chance to enjoy the bird’s eye view of the whole town of Abra de Ilog.
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Of course you can see how terrible the travel is. But if you are looking for extreme activity like this, then better climb the mountains of Abra de Ilog.

The place called Hasaan

Around 3:00 in the afternoon,  we have arrived Hasaan. We can now see the fog and sort of clouds going down the mountains.

“Hasaan” is a local term for whetstone. The place is located between the two mountains with stream and brook with different sizes of sort of black marble rocks. The rock formation is another fascinating feature of the place.

Hasaan is derived from the word ‘Hasa’ which means to sharpen. According to locals, during the World War II, the Japanese army used the place to sharpen their bayonets.

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These are the sample of the rocks that were scattered in Hasaan.

Our team has decided  to build tents in Hasaan. The availability of water supply is what we considered.

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The parallel view of Hasaan.
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This little tent shelters us from rain and cold for almost 5 days during our stay.

Exciting challenges

During our stay, here are some remarkable things hard to forget. First,  coping with the food and water. The sardines, noodles, dried fried, Fish Paste “Bagoong” and  edible fern (paco)  saved us from extreme hunger.

 The water we drink came from the spring with unusual size of tadpoles (measuring head-size of 1-2 inches diameter ) swimming in it. Safe or not? We don’t mind what is important is to quench our thirst and to survive.

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Have you seen cooked rice put inside a sack? There you go, in the absence of kitchen utensils, we have to maximize what’s available. Note: it is still delicious.
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The noodles played a vital role in our existence in Hasaan.
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Imagine with out dried fish (tuyo), then we have no protein at all. I am thinking, I’ll be malnourished for once.

Second, the Alimatik or leech (Hirudina medicinalis)  attack. This little pest is sucking our blood. And the problem is, we have no clue it’s there because we feel nothing. Gross.

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This little pest is now full of blood. And “Alimatik” loves to suck the soft part of a human foot. Ewwww.

Third, the place gave us no choice but to use an open defecation for our sanitation. Fourth, the very cold place that could kill us. Shocks, we are almost chilling  to our bones.

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This bonfire warms our bodies and help ease the cold evening.

Knowing Iraya

Irayanons look very primitive though their culture of wearing ‘bahags’ have  faded. They are chewing the mixture of buyo locally known as ‘nga-nga’. Their lifestyle has been modified with the technology. Few of them are already using cell phones for entertainment.

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An Iraya man looks very prominent in his community.
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A simple way of caring- this father has to carry his son.

We can observe that they live in simplicity and now they value the importance of education. Though most of their tribe members have no grade completed.

Irayanons are all farmers in occupation. Vegetables like , squash also sweet potatoes are their main productions.  They are also engaging in making grass brooms.

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These Iraya men have to walk for two days from their community before reaching the Abra de Ilog town proper to sell their products.
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Sweet potatoes- the fruit of the native’s labor.

This experience made me realized that I am lucky enough living in the urban center and experiencing the fruit of civilization compare to these native people.

So the these are the answers of the question: What do you think it will look like if were not colonized by the Spaniards?”

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At young age, this woman has already kids. And I learned from them that there are incest cases. Unfortunately.
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If still we are not civilized, maybe we all look like him.

Withdrawing from our comfort zones is  helpful in many different ways. This make us grow, motivate, inspired and sometimes experience the freedom that we are dreaming of. As said by Brian Tracy, “You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” ###

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