What do we want to do in 2023?
The Abelling tribe of Tarlac is slowly vanishing – and along with it, its culture, practices and traditions…
This is what scares me…seeing their existence wiped out in Luzon. I have learned to care for the Aeta tribes since 2012, but I think the real reason why I feel so close to them was because of a past recollection. My oldest daughter inherited her father’s brown skin, not my fair skin I inherited from my Spanish grandmother. She came to me running one afternoon, crying, and said her cousins called her “Aeta” and “Baluga”. I consoled her, saying she has the best skin most men admire, especially foreigners, and she has a strong attraction around her because of her skin tone. I researched on Aetas and found out they were trading in Angeles City with their wares. I was taking my masters’ degree in Business Administration then at Angeles City University, so I proceeded to Clark one time to observe. I befriended some Aeta tribal members by the gate of the base with their wares and I told them I can get inside and sell their products but they have to share me with the profits. They agreed. I walked out a few hours later with nothing but cash in my hand. The leader gave the members their cuts and he gave me some pesos for my jeepney ride. I told him I will repay you someday.
We started with a few Aeta scholars, mostly high school graduates who wanted to teach their members and influence them on the importance of education among the Aetas. We supported three scholars who later on became teachers in various tribal elementary schools. We supported indigents as well and a few financially-handicapped academically-motivated students who proceeded to masteral studies and were employed at government agencies. The first Aeta in Luzon who graduated with his doctoral degree in education was a product of Roscon.
The Scholarship Program of the Aetas was stopped in 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic that affected the funding of the project. I stepped in, spared some funds from our pension to defray the expenses of the scholars. I could not solicit donations in the Philippines without any registration from the Philippine licensing department, so we have to rely on U.S. support. It was scant and I have to depend on some volunteers to help us with the continuation of our missions. I could not see the dreams of two of our Aeta scholars to be realized: First, to have a Community Center for the Abelling Tribe in San Jose where the community can congregate, celebrate their traditions and cultures and influence each other on development projects. Second, that this one can go to West Point. Awesome dreams – but where do I come in?
A tribal member said the Center can be built on 5,000 square meters on the reservation area of the tribe in San Jose. The tribe thought Roscon is aiming to own the property to be built. I told the tribal member that the building is not my dream – but theirs. I am just an instrument to his tribe’s dream. But there will be enough space to ensure that the tribe will have a focal center to show the young ones that the Aetas belong to a beautiful tribe and they have nothing to be ashamed of. They have to learn about their heritage, keep their traditions alive and show to the world how they have grown from the forest citizens their ancestors were to the innovators, educators and scientists the new Aetas have become. My daughter herself with her beautiful brown skin leads the law school in the United States now.
So this journey will begin as I search for the fulfillment of this first dream. I am not after glorification, but to show to the world that a small Foundation can open the gates to a community dream, as long as that dream benefits all. I will start with dialogues from the tribal chieftain to explaining in details their goals towards this Center to the developer, but most importantly, to the future funder of this project. The United States is huge – somewhere in the 50 states, the donor will arrive. Who knows? Perhaps a distant descendant of an Eurasian community gets magnetized with this dream and grab the chance to be another instrument. The world has a galaxy of chances, and I will throw my beads of hope that someone will catch them. I am known to be a woman with the Midas touch. I will have to see if that really works….
What I want to is want we want to do – and find the source for this dream Center…
11.24.2022-Tribal Picture Credit of Dax Simbol, APR 12, 2014 3:30 PM PH- Building Picture Credit of SKOKOMISH TRIBAL COMMUNITY CENTER