AdvenTURO, a service project of Aral Pinoy and Making A Kinship with the Indigenous (MAKI), launched on May 26th of 2018 with a trip to Mariveles, Bataan. Making up the first group of volunteers are elementary and high school educators, corporate professionals, and humanitarians including McJarwin Cayacap who serves as the National Events Director and Public Relations Officer for Metro Manila and Luzon of Humanist Alliance Philippines, International (HAPI). The project spanned two days of adventure and teaching opportunities.
Coined from the words advent which means “coming into being”, and turo which means “to teach” in Tagalog, AdvenTURO is about coming over to teach. Volunteers from all backgrounds make frequent trips to indigenous communities so as to impart knowledge. Also, volunteers get to experience a tour of the community’s cultural and environmental setting.
Aeta Magbukún of Mariveles
For the first trip, AdvenTURO volunteers visited the Aeta Magbukún of Barangay Biaan. They are one of the least known and researched Indigenous Peoples (IP) remaining on the fringe of the Manila Bay and the West Philippine Sea, and within the forest cover of Mount Mariveles at the southern tip of the Bataan Peninsula of central Luzon.
“Through the continued encroachment of non-indigenous populations, the Aeta Magbukún persist at a critical level. Finding it increasingly difficult to sustain their traditional livelihoods, they must engage in informal commerce to procure sufficient food throughout the year… In doing so, the Aeta Magbukún can meet their basic needs, secure traditional cultural knowledge, and are able to influence their own development during a time of relatively rapid acculturation within the mainstream Philippine society.” — Hindawi Journal of Anthropology
About 173 kilometers from the national capital Manila with coves bounded on its eastern, western, and southern sides, Barangay Biaan is situated in a large and predominantly undeveloped mountainous area where the Aeta Magbukún live.
The close solidarity within this indigenous community can be seen clearly during gathering activities and food sharing. The dominant political structure among the Aeta Magbukún, at present, is a democratised Tribal Council, composed of elected Aeta officials. The Tribal Council aims to progress the Aeta Magbukún’s right to self-governance, while also representing and ensuring the tribe’s participation in local, regional, and national affairs.
Aral Pinoy and MAKI collaboration
Founded in 2009 by Antonio Ingles Jr., PhD — a full-time educator from De La Salle – College of Saint Benilde and a mentor at The Climate Reality Project — Aral Pinoy is a non-stock, non-profit organization that is dedicated to education for life-giving relationships. It also serves both the public and private school educators in enhancing their skills, knowledge and attitudes through free trainings on learning and teaching strategies using various methodologies.
MAKI is a community outreach project initiated in 2013 by Ceries Glean, a former Marketing Director for an international youth assembly. His project provides the avenue for change builders and the IP to come together through experiential and educational programs.
Antonio and Ceries first met at the Bangsamoro Peace Forum in Manila in November 2012. They have since planned to collaborate in order to give Aral Pinoy more reach in rural areas.
Adventure for a cause
The distribution of Balik-Eskwela Handog-Aral Kits to the Aeta Magbukún children was the highlight of the first AdvenTURO. A Kit contains pencils, pens, notebooks, crayons, paper and other student essentials. About a hundred Kits and new school bags were given away.
Inspirational talks, tribal and modern dances, classic parlor games, and storytelling filled the morning of the Aeta Magbukún community on May the 27th. Everyone also enjoyed a delectable spread of seafood, chicken, vegetables and pickles during the much anticipated boodle fight.
In the context of Filipino culture, a boodle fight is the military practice of eating a meal without cutlery and dishes. The food is placed on top of a long banana leaf while diners stand shoulder to shoulder around the table. Seeing this done by volunteers and the IP of Barangay Biaan together over lunch motivates stakeholders like HAPI to contribute again for such noble cause.
Critical Thinking workshop
HAPI’s participation in the first AdvenTURO is no ordinary mission. A recent offer from Brighter Brains Institute (BBI) — a 501(c)3 nonprofit, tax-exempt organization in the United States — gave more reason for HAPI to be a part of Aral Pinoy’s recent socio-educational undertaking.
BBI has been on the lookout for communities and schools outside Africa in which to conduct its Critical Thinking workshop. The workshop — called iDOUBT — was designed by Leo Igwe, a Nigerian humanist. It teaches logical thinking and combats dangerous superstitions.
The predominantly religious and superstitious Philippines is a perfect location for such a workshop. Critical thinking has been a rare practice in the daily lives of Filipinos, often leading to unlikely consequences, some of which have made their way to today’s local history books. For example, in the Mangyan tribe, there is the belief that married woman cannot bathe or wash themselves; if they do, it means they have cheated on their husband.
Through the efforts of HAPI and with the support of educators under its Secular Humanist Advocacy Development & Education (SHADE) program, BBI looks forward to conducting one of its first Critical Thinking workshops in the Philippines before the year ends.
- HAPI Metro Manila Member
- Web Content Editor
- National Events Director
- Public Relations Officer
Currently in between careers, he busies himself with anything that works for the good of humanity. Other than being a humanist, he is a realist, an art aficionado, a frugal foodie and a weary wanderer. He looks forward to working in the central government.